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Hawks, Wizards could get stiff test from healthy Heat

Southeast Division 2015-16 Preview

POSTED: Oct 13, 2015 10:52 AM ET

By Sekou Smith

BY Sekou Smith

NBA.com

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2014-15 Hawks Top 10 Plays

Relive the top moments from the Hawks' journey through the 2014-15 season.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

The Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards will have company this season in the playoff hunt. They separated from the pack last season and left little doubt as to who would represent the division in the postseason. The Miami Heat had too many wounded and too much change to overcome their circumstances. The Charlotte Hornets had a new look but couldn't match that flash on the court. And the Orlando Magic, still in rebuilding mode, simply were not ready for prime time. The competition will be more heated this time around. There could even be change at the top, as Atlanta repeating its 60-win season will be a monumental task. (Note: I said could be.) There is guaranteed to be at least one more team from the Southeast in the playoff mix come 2016.

DIVISION PREDICTION

1) Hawks*
2) Heat*
3) Wizards*
4) Hornets
5) Magic

* Playoff teams

SUPERLATIVES

Team on Rise: Miami Heat -- With Chris Bosh healthy and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic rolling, the Heat return to their playoff ways.

Team on Decline: Charlotte Hornets -- The Hornets stalled last season and have ground to make up before entertaining thoughts of being a playoff team.

Top Player: John Wall -- This point guard impacts the game for his team in ways only a handful of players in the league can.

Top Coach: Mike Budenholzer -- He's the reigning Coach of the Year. Case closed.

Coach on Hot Seat: Randy Wittman -- Washington's coach starts every season in this same spot but keeps finding ways to survive.

Top Rookie: Justise Winslow, Miami Heat -- The versatile wing was the steal of the Draft and should have an instant impact in Miami.

-- Sekou Smith