2012 NBA Standings: Hawks, Celtics Matchup Key For Playoff Positioning

Mar 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) passes the ball as he drives the baseline against Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) during the second half at Philips Arena. Boston won 79-76. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Tonight's matchup between the Hawks and the Celtics is an important one for both teams in regards to the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Atlanta enters play tonight at 34-23 exactly one game better than the Boston Celtics who currently own the fourth seed by virtue of their lead in the Atlantic Division. However if the playoffs began today, Atlanta would have homecourt advantage over the Celtics despite being the higher seed. Homecourt advantage goes to the team with the better record.

Boston won the previous matchup between the two teams and a Celtics win tonight would tie them with the Hawks and give them the tie breaker advantage in the season series.

The Hawks are currently only a half game ahead of the Orlando Magic whom they play on Friday and just one game behind the Indiana Pacers entering play today. Its a fluid situation that could see teams move up and down essentially every day from now until the end of the season.

Here is a look at the Eastern Conference Standings heading into tonight's games:

W L GB
1. Chicago 44 14 --
2. Miami 40 16 3.0
3. Indiana 35 22 8.5
4. Boston 33 24 10.5
5. Atlanta 34 23 9.5
6. Orlando 34 24 10
7. Philadelphia 30 27 13.5
8. New York 29 28 14.5
*9. Milwaukee 28 29 15.5

Indiana plays Cleveland Wednesday night and Orlando doesn't play again until Friday night against the Hawks. Atlanta could catch a break on Friday as the Magic might be without Dwight Howard who sat out Tuesday's loss to Washington but with two days off might have enough time to recover.

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