We are eight days away from the first postseason action for the 2016-17 NBA Season. With only three to four games remaining for each team heading into Friday’s match-ups, the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff seeds remain a complete mystery. Let’s take a look at the Atlanta Hawks and what they would need to do in order to compete in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

5th Seed (current), 40-38

The Hawks have been a very confusing team to follow. If this past summer was any indication, they’re looking to go in a completely different direction — but they’re still competing. The Hawks are a feisty group and while they don’t necessarily have the talent to win a playoff series, they’ve bolstered their bench which will really help them out in the long run. It’s not expected for them to win a series outside the Atlanta fan base, but getting the right match-up could perhaps propel them into the second round.

Their schedule to close out the season isn’t easy what-so-ever. They play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers (a Cavs win would allow them to clinch the first seed in the East), Charlotte Hornets (hanging on by a thread — tenth seed), and close in Indiana against the Pacers (currently the eighth seed).

The Hawks would ideally need to win the rest of their games to get the best match-up in the first round.  They own the tie-breaker against the Milwaukee Bucks who trail them by half a game — Atlanta controls its own destiny for the postseason.

Atlanta’s ideal match-up in the first round would be the Toronto Raptors. Atlanta is a team that relies on a team effort on both ends of the floor. Toronto overall isn’t a great defensive team so perhaps coach Mike Budenholzer can sprinkle some magic onto this Hawks team like we’ve seen in the past. It would be ideal for them to take advantage of the Raptors’ ISO ball scheme.

Their least ideal match-up is the Cleveland Cavaliers. As mentioned above, should the Cavs win Friday over the Hawks, they would be officially crowned as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The only way they would meet is if the Hawks dropped down to the eighth seed. Not likely but it’s still possible and that’s the key here.

The Cavaliers have too much fire-power and just to be quite frank, don’t have a defensive stopper. That may work against a team like the Boston Celtics (currently the second seed) but it won’t work against Cleveland. There is just too much star power on this Cavs team and that’s the last thing Atlanta should want to deal with.

The Hawks control their own destiny. There’s no sense in putting out win-loss scenarios for them and the other teams competing, simply because all the Hawks have to worry about is winning. They’re in a solid position right now and have begun to play much better over the last few games.



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