March Madness is upon us once again in the basketball world. The bracket is set and the upsets are just waiting to happen in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The NBA's March is not as mad as the "Big Dance", but can be pretty hectic coming down the stretch. March is crunch time in the NBA for the "bubble" teams to solidify their chances at the playoffs.The majority of the final games played in March, it can be a time to "go big or go home" for the teams in the bottom half of the playoff seeds. The Hawks currently sit in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference sitting at sixth in the Eastern Conference.
With a strong showing this week, the Hawks won three-out-of-four games to finish up the road trip. The only loss of the week came to the second best team in the East, Toronto Raptors. The Hawks gained wins over all three possible playoff teams: Indiana, Utah, and Memphis, it was overall good week for the Hawks. Every game is a must win for the Hawks if they want a top four seed and the Southeast Division championship.
The Week ahead for the Hawks
The only thing the Hawks can control at this point in the season is its own destiny. With three games on the slate for Atlanta this week, all three are winnable and need to be won. All the teams that the Hawks play this week are in the same boat as the Hawks are, needing wins. The Hawks go on the road to face the eighth-seed Detroit Pistons. The Pistons have all but secured the spot, so they also need the win. With the Chicago Bull knocking on the door for the eighth spot, Detroit needs the win but the question is "Who wants it more?". After a brief road trip in Detroit, the Hawks start a three game homestead with the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets coming to town. The Nuggets, who sit in ninth in the West, are five games out of eighth place. The Hawks should get wins from the Pistons and the Nuggets.
The toss-up game for the Hawks will be the Saturday night showdown with James Harden and the Houston Rockets coming to town. Again, it comes down to who wants to be better than the bottom half of the conference. The Rockets are on a serious decline being 33-33 and tied for seventh place with the Mavs. The Hawks should win all three games this week, but could drop one to any of these three if they take a night off.
The Race for the Southeast
The Hawks are now tied for second place in the Southeast Division with the Charlotte Hornets jumping the Hawks for the first time in the Southeast this season. The red hot Hornets have won seven games in-a-row to make the Southeast division a three team race. The Southeast division is probably the hottest division in the East right now and the race to the division championship is a tight one. The four, five, and six spots are the Heat, Hornets, and Hawks respectively and how the season shakes out could effect the entire conference seedings.
A Look at the Eastern Conference Standings
|1. Cleveland Cavaliers||47||18||.723||-|
|2. Toronto Raptors||44||20||.688||2.5|
|3. Boston Celtics||39||27||.591||8.5|
|4. Miami Heat||38||28||.576||9.5|
|5. Charlotte Hornets||37||28||.569||10|
|6. Atlanta Hawks||38||29||.567||10|
|7. Indiana Pacers||35||31||.530||12.5|
|8. Detroit Pistons||34||32||.515||13.5|