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Hawks Hit the Skids

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A week ago, the Atlanta Hawks rolled into Boston as the East's only remaining undefeated team.  They have yet to win since.

That continued last night with a 113-96 pummeling at the hands of the Pacers in which they were beaten soundly from wire to wire.

Ten games into 2008-09, it seems that as was the story throughout last season, the Hawks' true identity remains unknown.

This is a team that didn't just jump out to a 6-0 start, but it did so with style, picking up four particularly noteworthy wins in that span.  Orlando, Toronto and Philadelphia all project to be playoff teams in the East, and New Orleans is considered a title contender.  That four of the first six wins came on the road and that the home opener included a comeback from a 23-point deficit only made the start all the more impressive.  Even though losing to the Celts put a blemish on their record, the Hawks gave the champs everything they could handle in a 103-102 thriller.

But it hasn't been the same since then.  The Hawks lost both ends of a home-and-home this weekend to a mediocre-at-best Nets, and they followed it up with the wipeout in Indiana.  The team's defensive efficiency has fallen to 21st in the league, and after giving up 100 points just once in their six wins, they have done so in each of the four losses.

Sure, Josh Smith's absence makes a big difference, and his return will probably change things for the better once more, but this Hawks team continues to confuse.  Seems like another classic case of a team that plays to its level of competition.