Update: The Hawks have announced that Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Dennis Schröder, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kent Bazemore will NOT play on Wednesday evening.
The Atlanta Hawks can and should be thinking about the playoffs now. They locked up the fifth seed in the East with a win over the Charlotte Hornets last night, and will face the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. Even though it doesn’t mean anything for Atlanta though, the team faces one more contest tonight against the Indiana Pacers.
Since the Hawks have nothing meaningful to play for tonight, it is entirely possible that Mike Budenholzer will elect to rest several of his starters. There has been no official indication as of this writing, but it shouldn’t be surprising if players like Paul Millsap or Dennis Schroder don’t enter the game this evening. Indiana, on the other hand, has to win to clinch a playoff berth, and will be playing with maximum effort.
It’s possible that the Pacers could make the playoffs tonight with a loss, but this would also require the Miami Heat to lose to the Washington Wizards (who may be resting players as well). In order to secure the seventh or eighth seed, Indiana will look to play well against Atlanta tonight. That’s the easiest way for them to get into the playoffs.
In any case, it will be interesting to see the lineups and rotations that Budenholzer deploys tonight. Atlanta has received fantastic contributions from bench players over the last few games (especially in the two wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers), and that trend may continue tonight as well. It will also be interesting to see if Thabo Sefolosha plays at all. He participated in Tuesday’s win over Charlotte, but didn’t look completely recovered.
Tonight is the end of the regular season for the 2016-17 Hawks, and it has been an interesting ride to say the least. The team is headed for the playoffs once again, which is no small accomplishment, and it seems fair to say that Washington is probably much more on everyone’s mind that Indiana right now. The exact schedule for this series hasn’t come out yet, but we’ll know before too long when all the playoff games are.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, April 12, 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, ESPN
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM