The Atlanta Hawks will look to live up to their No.1 seed in the East by starting with a strong performance against the Brooklyn Nets in their series opener.
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta.
When: Sunday April 19, 22:30 (UK time)
Watch live: Click here to watch on BT Sport online!
The Hawks surprised many by finishing the regular season with a 60-22 record to ensure that they finished top of the standings in the East, and not only was their record impressive, but the manner in which they achieved their results was equally as enthralling.
Mike Budenholzer has established a reputation for the franchise as being the ‘San Antonio Spurs of the East’ and given his working history with Gregg Popovich, it is no surprise to see elements of that team basketball in his own side.
Having won all four regular-season meetings with the Nets by an average of more than 17 points, it is highly unlikely that they will experience too many issues in their first round match-up.
However, they have been on the side of it as recently as last year when they nearly upset the Indiana Pacers as the eighth seed, and so they will need no warning about underestimating their opponents and taking it easy.
With so many scoring options on the team as well as some solid defense even without Thabo Sefolosha, it is difficult to see how Brooklyn will cope with their ability to move the ball and score through the likes of Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Kyle Korver.
Nevertheless, over the course of a playoff series anything can happen and if the momentum is with Brooklyn early, then they will fancy their chances of causing a shock.
The Nets (38-44) needed to wait until the final night of the regular season to book their place in the playoffs, and although their roster is an ageing one, they still have some big threats to the Hawks.
Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson can be a real handful if on their game, and judging from their more recent performances, they could be heading into the playoffs ready to silence the critics.
Lopez in particular has been unstoppable on the offensive end, and he could be a genuine problem for the Hawks if he is able to continue his recent form.
However, it is still an extremely difficult task that awaits Brooklyn, and particularly on the road where Atlanta went 35-6, it will take a special all-round effort to upset the odds.
As a result, back the Hawks to pick up the opening game win to take the early lead in the series and it might not be too long before they are preparing for their semi-final opponents.