Because Caldwell—and the other Hawks—will cheat for the fast break, they have been vulnerable to opponents who get second shots through good offensive rebounding. But Atlanta has all its other flanks protected, and is a prime candidate to become the first Western team to win the NBA title since their ancestors, the St. Louis Hawks, won in 1958.
The players believe in that possibility with what borders on a kind of mysticism. Bridges, speaking carefully, trying his best to translate an emotion, says: "I don't exactly remember when it was, but suddenly it spread over us. It was something that I had never experienced before, and I can't describe it. But suddenly this feeling was just with us all and we knew we would win. We knew that. Even Walter Bellamy believes that now, and every day he believes, the better we are."