Everything is brighter on the West Coast and the Hawks' playoffs potential is not the exception. The Hawks started their West coast road trip by winning two of three in the state of California. The first game of the road trip was a little closer than the experts expected due to the absence of Steph Curry. The Hawks put themselves in a place to the win the game but they could not beat the luck of Draymond Green. Winning two in a row at the Staples Center was a huge plus for the Hawks and their playoff hopes. The Hawks put up major points in all three games, proving they can still score like they did last season. The Hawks scored over 105 in all three games.
The Outlook for this week
The Hawks currently for a consecutive week sit at fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The deficit between first-place and fifth-place is now ten games in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks trail the fourth-place Miami Heat by two games in both the Eastern Conference standings and the race for the Southeast division title. With 19 games to go, there is still a chance of the division title.
The Hawks play the Utah Jazz to continue the road trip and should get the win over the ninth-place Jazz on Tuesday Night. The last stop on the road trip will be a tough road test for the Hawks as they take on the second-place Toronto Raptors. This is the second matchup of the season with two more meetings left to go between the two teams. Toronto won the first one on December 2nd, 96-86 in Atlanta. It should be a closer game than last time if the Hawks can continue the hot shooting. The Hawks will return to Atlanta on Saturday night to host the Memphis Grizzlies in a battle of the fifth-place teams from both conferences. Predicting another two out of three week for the Hawks losing to Toronto.
The Race to Catch the Heat
The Miami Heat have been the team to watch the last couple of weeks winning five-in-a-row. With wins over less than stellar teams, they are still a team to watch out for. The Heat know win to "Heat Up" and this part of the season is that time. Miami is only a half game out of taking third-place from the Boston Celtics. The Heat are second in the league in points allowed, so they know they just have score a couple more than the opposition. Dwayne Wade and Co. are still proving they can compete in the league. The ceiling for the Heat is the third-seed in the East. The Hawks have to keep winning and hope that the Heat will cool down, so that the Hawks can win the division.
Here is a look at the up to the minute Eastern Conference standings:
|1. Cleveland Cavaliers||44||17||0.0|
|2. Toronto Raptors||41||20||3.0|
|3. Boston Celtics||38||26||7.5|
|4. Miami Heat||37||26||8.0|
|5. Atlanta Hawks||35||28||10.0|
|6. Charlotte Hornets||33||28||11.0|
|7. Indiana Pacers||33||30||12.0|
|8. Chicago Bulls||31||30||13.0|
The first two tickets are punched
WIth 19 games to go, the top two teams in the Western Conference have clinched spots in the NBA Playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs joined the Golden State Warriors by clinching this past week. The East spots will be a little harder to clinch than the top two in the Western Conference.