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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 8

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For the final stretch of games this season, Peachtree Hoops will be covering Atlanta’s daily changes in draft position along with keeping tabs on the teams that owe the Hawks 2018 draft picks.

2015 NBA Draft Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

For the Atlanta Hawks, these last 17 games of the 2018 season are pivotal in the determination of the 2018 NBA Draft positioning. Coming down the stretch and into the draft lottery, Peachtree Hoops will be doing a daily update breaking down Atlanta’s dwindling Tragic Number and also the status of the other two first round selections owed to the Hawks by Minnesota and Houston.

Hawks tragic number

The Hawks still sit at a 20-45 record, which is tied for the worst mark in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets, as the team comes into play against the Pacers on Friday. The Hawks “tragic number” which is the number of games Atlanta would have to lose or that teams currently in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture would need to win to eliminate the Hawks from the Playoffs is currently 4.

Atlanta had already been eliminated from being able to win the first, second or third seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and were eliminated from fourth seed contention after the Cavaliers defeated the Nuggets last night.

The Hawks could be eliminated from the fifth seed tonight if Philadelphia beats Miami.

Hawks upcoming schedule

After a tough recent matchup with the Raptors, the Hawks will be getting no relief going forward. Atlanta’s next game in Indiana features a Pacers team that has gone 7-3 over their last 10 games and have split their last two games against the Hawks. After facing the Pacers, the Hawks will be back at home for an important matchup against the Chicago Bulls that could be pivotal in deciding Atlanta’s draft position as Chicago is right there with Atlanta in the mix at the bottom of the league standings.

Minnesota and Houston pick status

Atlanta continues to hold the 2nd most valuable array of draft selections according to tankathon.com’s composite draft score ratings. Phoenix, the only other team that currently controls three first round picks besides the Hawks, currently sits ahead of Atlanta’s composite draft score of 127.00 with a score of 184.40.

The Hawks are also keeping a close eye on the Timberwolves and Rocket records since Atlanta owns both Houston’s and Minnesota’s first round picks if everything falls into place. The Timberwolves pick is protected for selections 1-14 in the Draft and with Jimmy Butler still on the mend things are beginning to go downhill for Minnesota quickly in the tight race that is the Western Conference Playoff standings. While Minnesota has had a 5 day break to rest it is important to note their incoming schedule which is brutal. The pick would currently convey as the 22nd selection in the Draft since the Timberwolves are still in the Playoff picture, but with the T-Wolves holding the third most difficult remaining schedule in the entire league, it looks as though the pick conveying could come down to the wire.

Houston’s pick is a little more safe as it seems the Rockets are going to make the Playoffs rather easily. The even better news is that the pick is only protected for the top 3 selections in the Draft making the chances of it not conveying less than 1%. Houston’s “Magic Number” to clinch a playoff berth is just 1 and after they clinch a Playoff spot the pick will be guaranteed to convey.

Other teams at the bottom

Atlanta’s own pick positioning will be majorly influenced by the status of those teams that currently surround Atlanta at the bottom of the standings. Here are updates on the teams that are currently behind Atlanta in the league standings.

The worst team in the NBA continues to be Memphis at an 18-46 record. The Grizzlies lost their game against the Chicago Bulls yesterday moving their losing streak to 15 games. Memphis has a big game coming against the Mavericks on Saturday that could really shake things up at the bottom of the league.

Phoenix, who became the first team to enter the Draft Lottery after being eliminated from Playoff contention on Monday, will face off against the Thunder tonight.

Dallas, who won their last game against the Nuggets, moved ahead of Atlanta by tiebreaker in the standings to the 5th worst record

Brooklyn, one of two teams behind the Hawks in the Eastern Conference standings, are back in action tonight against the Hornets in a game they have a real chance to win in. Brooklyn winning would do the league a favor as the Cavaliers own the Nets first rounder with no protections.

Orlando moved back behind Atlanta in the standings after losing to the Lakers in Los Angeles last night on two Brook Lopez free throws with no time remaining. Orlando’s loss moves 5 teams to a 20-45 record which is unusual in mid March.

The Hawks will be keeping a close eye on the Timberwolves game tonight against the Celtics and will be hoping for a Phoenix upset to improve their draft odds. As always stay tuned for tomorrows update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!