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NBA Playoff Picture: A closer look at the race for 8th

As the NBA season enters its final stretch, we take a look at the race for the final playoff spot in the East between the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks.

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second straight game on Sunday to fall to 31-37 on the season. Despite the loss, they still maintain a relatively healthy lead over the New York Knicks who saw their eight-game winning streak end on Sunday with a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Here is a look at the full standings:

Team W L GB
7. Charlotte Bobcats 34 36 17.0
8. Atlanta Hawks 31 37 19.0
9. New York Knicks 29 41 22.0
10. Cleveland Cavaliers 27 44 24.5

As you can see, the Hawks are three up on the Knicks and four up in the loss column. Atlanta has slipped to two games back of the Bobcats for seventh place.

Here is a look at Atlanta's remaining schedule:

Date Opponent Time TV
Mon Mar 24 vs Phoenix 7:30 SportSouth
Wed Mar 26 @ Minnesota 8:00 SportSouth
Thur Mar 27 vs Portland 7:30 SportSouth
Sat Mar 29 @ Washington 8:00 SportSouth
Mon Mar 31 vs Philadelphia 7:30 SportSouth
Wed Apr 2 vs Chicago 7:30 SportSouth
Fri Apr 4 vs Cleveland 7:30 SportSouth
Sun Apr 6 @ Indiana 6:00 SportSouth
Tues Apr 8 vs Detroit 7:30 SportSouth
Wed Apr 9 vs Boston 7:30 SportSouth
Fri Apr 11 @ Brooklyn 7:30 SportSouth
Sat Apr 12 vs Miami 7:30 SportSouth
Mon Apr 14 vs Charlotte 7:30 SportSouth
Wed Apr 16 @ Milwaukee 8:00 ESPN

Atlanta has 14 games remaining and eight against teams that are currently at or above .500. However, nine of those 14 will be played at Philips Arena where Atlanta has performed much better this season. The Hawks are 20-12 at home versus 11-25 on the road.

Here is a look at the Knicks' remaining schedule:

Date Opponent Time TV
Tue Mar 25 @ Lakers 10:30 TNT
Wed Mar 26 @ Sacramento 10:00 League Pass
Fri Mar 28 @ Phoenix 10:00 League Pass
Sun Mar 30 @ Golden State 9:00 League Pass
Mon Mar 31 @ Utah 9:00 League Pass
Wed Apr 2 vs Brooklyn 7:00 ESPN
Fri Apr 4 vs Washington 7:30 League Pass
Sun Apr 6 @ Miami 1:00 ABC
Fri Apr 11 @ Toronto 7:00 League Pass
Sun Apr 13 vs Chicago 7:30 League Pass
Tue Apr 15 @ Brooklyn 8:00 TNT
Wed Apr 16 vs Toronto 8:00 League Pass

New York begins a five game west-coast run on Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Just four of the Knicks' remaining 12 games will be played at Madison Square Garden. Nine of New York's final 12 games will be played against teams with a better than .500 record.

Remember Atlanta is still four up in the loss column beginning this final stretch. There is a better than good possibility that the Hawks continue to struggle but the Knicks are going to have to be near perfect to make it happen. Its not impossible but New York is fighting a big uphill battle.