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Atlanta Hawks ping-pong chronicles: March 9

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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.

2013 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/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 Orlando Magic, as the team comes into play against the Pacers tonight. 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 remains at 4 after two days off since their last game in Toronto.

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 on Friday night should they lose to the Pacers.

Hawks upcoming schedule

After a tough recent matchup with the Raptors, the Hawks will be getting no relief going forward. The Hawks game tonight 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 match-up 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 second-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 137.36 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.

With Minnesota losing their game against the Celtics on Thursday, things are getting too close for comfort. The pick would currently convey as the 19th 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. Not to mention Minnesota is about to begin a seriously difficult “murderers row” lineup of games against current playoff teams.

Houston’s pick is a lot safer 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 it would seem they will almost certainly clinch a playoff spot tonight with 31 scenarios possible for that to occur tonight. A playoff clinch would effectively guarantee the pick conveying.

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 most recent game against the Chicago Bulls 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, lost to the Thunder last night and will play the Hornets tomorrow night in a game they have a good chance to be competitive in.

Dallas, who won their last game against the Nuggets, moved ahead of Atlanta by tiebreaker in the standings to the 6th worst record and will not play again until Saturday in their big game against the Grizzlies.

Brooklyn, who moved back ahead of Atlanta in the standings last night after beating the Hornets also get a two day break before their next game against the 76ers. Brooklyn winning games matters big time since they do not own their first round pick which is instead owned by Cleveland.

Orlando moved back behind Atlanta in the standings after losing to the Lakers in their last game. Orlando has another big time basement team matchup in their next game tonight against the Sacramento Kings who are ahead of Atlanta in the standings by percentage points.

The Hawks will make sure to keep a close eye on the game between Orlando and Sacramento tonight and the constant shifting of teams at the bottom of the playoffs in the Western Conference. As always stay tuned for tomorrows update to the Hawks Ping-Pong Chronicles!