For a moment, it appeared that the Atlanta Hawks might fall completely out of the playoff picture. However, two-straight wins have them once again trending upward in the Eastern Conference standings.
Atlanta snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 95-91 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at Philips Arena. They followed that up on Wednesday with a 97-92 road win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Kent Bazemore returned from a five-game absence in the win over the Sixers and Thabo Sefolosha is also on the trip and could return to the lineup soon. The future is still a bit cloudy for forward Paul Millsap who has been ruled out through at least Saturday’s game in Chicago.
Here is a look at the current picture in the Eastern Conference entering play on Thursday.
Eastern Conference Standings
The first thing that should jump out at you is that the Hawks are still holding down the fifth spot in the standings despite losing 13 of their past 20 games. They are currently tied with the Milwaukee Bucks but hold the tiebreaker due to their 3-1 advantage in the season series. Miami and Indiana are both two games back while Chicago is on the outside looking in 3.5 games behind.
Hawks remaining schedule
|Saturday, April 1||at Bulls||5:00 PM|
|Sunday, April 2||at Nets||6:00 PM|
|Thursday, April 6||vs Celtics||8:00 PM|
|Friday, April 7||at Cavaliers||7:30 PM|
|Sunday, April 9||vs Cavaliers||3:30 PM|
|Tuesday, April 11||vs Hornets||7:30 PM|
|Wednesday, April 12||at Pacers||8:00 PM|
Up next for the Hawks is road games at Chicago and Brooklyn. Atlanta then enters the final stretch with a home/road back-to-back against Boston and Cleveland. The Celtics and the Cavaliers are essentially in a dead heat at the top of the East Standings currently. Atlanta will then close it out with a home rematch against Cleveland and Charlotte before finishing things up in Indiana.
Bucks, Heat, Pacers, Bulls remaining schedules
|Milwaukee||vs DET, vs DAL, at OKC, at IND, at PHI, vs CHA, BOS|
|Miami||vs NY, vs DEN, at CHA, at TOR, at WAS, vs CLE, vs WAS|
|Indiana||at TOR, at CLE, vs TOR, vs MIL, at ORL, at PHI, vs ATL|
|Chicago||vs CLE, vs ATL, at NO, at NY, at PHI, at BKN, vs ORL, vs BKN|
Since the last time we looked at this, the Hawks situation has improved greatly. FiveThirtyEight now projects them to finish with a 42-40 record with a 95 percent chance of reaching the postseason. With Boston and Cleveland fighting it out over the top seed, they may not get the benefit of one of those team’s resting players down the stretch. It remains to be seen whether or not Atlanta can hold onto that fifth spot.