Schedule favors the Hawks in the race for a top-four seed

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With just six games left on the schedule, there is still plenty of jostling to go between the 4th-7th seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks got a break last night, as the Heat fell to the Mavericks. Atlanta now sits one game ahead of Miami for the 5th spot and 1.5 games ahead of Boston, and they own the tiebreaker over both teams. The Hawks are also eyeing home-court advantage in the first round, but they need to jump over the hottest team in the NBA — the New York Knicks — to earn it. That won’t be easy to do with how well the Knicks are playing, especially considering they are 1.5 games ahead of the Hawks and own the tiebreaker, but the remaining schedule gives Atlanta every opportunity to take over the fourth seed.

Hawks Schedule

vs. Phoenix Suns

@ Indiana Pacers

vs. Washington Wizards

vs. Washington Wizards

vs. Orlando Magic

vs. Houston Rockets


As you can see, this is an extremely favorable schedule for the Hawks. The only team they play with a winning record is the Suns, and they even get a break there because Phoenix is on the second night of a back-to-back and had to go to overtime with Cleveland last night. The Pacers and Wizards surely aren’t pushovers, but they are winnable games, and the Magic and Rockets are the two worst teams in the NBA. On top of that, the Hawks get five of their last six games on their home court, where they are 20-11 so far this season. At the very worst, they should win four out of their final six contests.

Knicks Schedule

@ Denver Nuggets

@ Phoenix Suns

@ Los Angeles Clippers

@ Los Angeles Lakers

vs. San Antonio Spurs

vs. Charlotte Hornets

vs. Boston Celtics


The Knicks are winners of 12 of 13, but they have benefitted from an extremely friendly schedule over that stretch. That ends today as they embark on a four-game Western Conference road trip against four of the best teams in the league. Given the way the Knicks are playing, I wouldn’t be surprised if they scrapped their way to a couple of wins, but going 0-4 out west is certainly possible. New York then returns home for their final three games, but they are all against teams fighting for playoff spots. This has to be one of the most difficult schedules in The Association to end the season, and it very well could open the door for the Hawks to sneak into the 4th spot in the East.

Heat Schedule

vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

@ Boston Celtics

@ Boston Celtics

vs. Philadelphia 76ers

vs. Milwaukee Bucks

@ Detroit Pistons


The Heat’s schedule is extremely challenging as well. They begin and end with two easy matchups against the Timberwolves and Pistons, but the four games sandwiched in between could all be losses. Those two games against the Celtics on the road will be critical in determining what seed they will be in the Eastern Conference, and of course, the 76ers and Bucks are two of the best teams in the NBA.

Celtics Schedule

@ Orlando Magic

@ Chicago Bulls

vs. Miami Heat

vs. Miami Heat

@ Cleveland Cavaliers

@ Minnesota Timberwolves

@ New York Knicks


Of all of the Hawks’ competitors, the Celtics undoubtedly have the easiest schedule. The Magic are abysmal, and Chicago is a very winnable game. Again, those two games against the Heat will be critical, but they get both of them at home. Boston then ends their season with a three-game road trip. They should be able to handle the Cavs and Timberwolves, but their season finale at Madison Square Garden could be pivotal to their seeding.

The Hawks don’t need to be scoreboard watching; that’s our job. If they take care of business as they should against lesser teams down the stretch, things will fall into place, and they’ll have a fantastic chance of earning home-court advantage in the first round.


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