Hawks Reduce Magic Number To 2
In the process, they also stretched their lead over the idle New York Knicks to two games with four to play in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. As a reminder, the Hawks win the tiebreaker should the two finish with the same record, meaning Atlanta needs only to split its remaining four games to clinch a seventh straight postseason berth.
The Knicks have been idle since losing in Miami Sunday afternoon, and they’ll once again be off Thursday. They return from the long layoff Friday to face the Raptors in Canada, needing a win to keep any realistic chance of catching Atlanta alive. After the game in Toronto, they’ll finish with three games in the city of New York – first facing Chicago at Madison Square Garden before heading to their Eastern neighbors in Brooklyn, then returning home to close the season with the Raptors again.
The Hawks will be in Brooklyn Friday with a chance to clinch should they win and the Knicks lose. Of course, that will be no easy task for Atlanta, as the Nets have won 15 straight games at Barclays Center. Atlanta’s final three games are against the Heat and Bobcats at home, and against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Another interesting development that interests the Hawks is what’s happened at the top of the conference this week. After Atlanta manhandled Indiana Sunday, it appeared the Pacers were destined for the two seed. But the Miami Heat have opened the door with back-to-back losses this week, making Friday’s game between the two teams perhaps the biggest regular season game in the NBA to date. The teams are tied in the loss column, but the winner will control their own destiny as the one seed. Indiana wins a tiebreaker if the two finish even, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images