The Hawks have undoubtedly taken a step back from their second half surge in 2021, but they still have a decent shot at making some noise in the playoffs in an uncertain Eastern Conference. A few things will have to go their way, and the Hawks have a lot of tough opponents coming up on their schedule, but this team has enough talent to catch lightning in a bottle.
3/30 @ Oklahoma City
3/31 v. Cleveland
4/2 v. Brooklyn
4/5 @ Toronto
4/6 v. Washington
4/8 @ Miami
4/10 @ Houston
The Hawks can hang with these teams; it’s actually been the lesser opponents that have given Atlanta trouble this season. They could easily beat Miami — the 1 seed in the East — then lose to the lowly Rockets. Right now, in a normal playoff format, the Hawks wouldn’t even qualify for the playoffs. Atlanta currently holds the 10th seed with a 38-37 record. They are four games up on the Knicks, another playoff team that hasn’t performed up to expectations in 2022, and one game behind the Hornets and Nets for the 9th and 8th seeds, respectively. So, what happens in each scenario?
10th Seed: The Hawks would play the 9th Seed in a play-in game. The winner will play the loser of the 7th and 8th Seed matchup for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. If the season ended today, it would be the (10) Hawks v. the (9) Hornets. The loser of this game is eliminated.
9th Seed: Same as above, except the Hawks would have home court advantage.
8th Seed: The 8th Seed plays the 7th Seed for the 7th Seed in the Eastern Conference. In this format, however, the loser of this game still gets one more chance to make the playoffs.
- Each conference’s Nos. 9 and 10 teams will face off, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game. The loser of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will be eliminated from playoff contention.
- The loser of the No. 7-vs.-No. 8 game and the winner of the No. 9-vs.-No. 10 game will then play against each other. The winner of that game will be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. The loser will be eliminated from playoff contention.
7th Seed: Same as above, except the Hawks would have home court advantage.
Atlanta is currently four games behind the Cavs, who own the 7th seed. The Hawks need to start stringing together some wins quickly because their season could be over in the blink of an eye with the new playoff format.
Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire
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