With just three games left, we have a three-way tie for the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference between the Hawks, Heat, and Knicks after the Lakers defeated the Knicks last night in overtime. The Heat also beat the Celtics, which means Atlanta can also clinch a top-six seed with a win in any of their last three games. They also clinch the 6th seed if the Knicks win any of their final three contests. However, that should no longer be their goal. All eyes in Atlanta should be on home-court advantage.
The Hawks currently own the tiebreaker if there is a three-way tie to end the season. The reason being is because they hold the tiebreaker over the Heat, which would make them the Southeast division champions. Since the Knicks will finish second to Brooklyn in their division, the Hawks would earn the 4th seed. However, if just the Hawks and Knicks finished tied at the end of the season, New York will have the higher seed thanks to their head-to-head record against Atlanta.
But as I’ve said on several occasions, the Hawks hold the advantage in this race because of their schedule. They finish the season with three home games against the Wizards (without Bradley Beal), Magic, and Rockets. The Knicks also finish the season with three home contests, but against slightly better competition — Spurs, Hornets, and Celtics. The Heat have the hardest road of the three by far, hosting the 76ers before hitting the road to play the Bucks and Pistons.
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