Coming Into Focus

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
By Jon Newberry

With such a tight race involving so many teams, almost every night will feature at least one game with playoff implications. Here on the blog we will provide an almost daily update on the standings, what games to watch, and where to find the best analysis about the Hawks’ position.

Finally, Some Separation
With last night’s results (see below), there is finally SOME clarity in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With Philadelphia’s loss, the Hawks, Magic and Celtics now have a 4.5 game cushion on falling to the 7 or 8-seed and a first-round match-up with the Miami Heat. With just five games to play, it is a safe bet that will not happen.

Indiana continues to win, and has built a 3-game lead on the group tied for the fourth-best record in the East. However, the Pacers don’t own any of the tie-breakers against Atlanta, Boston or Orlando, so there is still a slim chance that they could fall out of the 3-seed if they stumble down the stretch.

Speaking of the final stretch, here is how each team currently in the 3-through-6 spot finish the season:

As you can see, the Hawks are done with their road games, and Indiana plays 4-of-5 in the comforts of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers final game against the Bulls is tricky to predict, as Chicago may be resting some starters if they have already locked up the top seed in the East. On the flip side, there is plenty of bad blood between these two teams, and if either is playing for anything meaningful, look for a heated battle.

The Celtics and Magic both have a tough set of games to finish the season. Orlando still has to head out west for a pair of games against playoff teams, while Boston’s opponents all have winning records.

What happened last night:

  • Hawks 109 – Raptors 87 (@ Toronto)
    Atlanta wrapped up its first winning road record since the 1998-99 season, while avenging a bad loss to the Raptors on Sunday night.
  • Magic 113 – 76ers 100 (@ Orlando)
    Many people expected Orlando to tank without Dwight Howard, but they have now won two straight after getting blown out by the Hawks.
  • Pacers 111 – Timberwolves 88 (@ Indiana)
    Indiana came out of the gate on fire and never looked back as they continue their impressive April.
Here is what is on tap for tonight:
  • Pacers @ 76ers – 7:00 pm
  • Celtics @ Knicks – 8:00 pm

With a three-way tie in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race, it is always good to have some serious number crunchers on hand to help give some insight into possible outcomes. Here on the Hawks Blog we have always relied on for our in-depth analysis of playoff odds, etc. Here is a breakdown of where the Hawks could finish based on their record in the remaining 5 games:


Another resource that uses numbers way above most of our heads is ESPN’s John Hollinger. He is a frequent visitor to the Highlight Factory and breaks down nearly every facet of NBA basketball with statistics and probabilities. For his “Daily Playoff Odds” he runs the remaining schedule through the computer 5,000 times to churn out the most likely results. Right now he has the Hawks finishing 39-27, the fifth position in the East. CLICK HERE for his complete breakdown.