Currently the Hawks are tied with the Boston Celtics for third in the Eastern Conference with a 49-29 record. Because of the divisional tie breaker the Celtics will be awarded the third spot if the season ends in a tie with the Hawks. So I wanted to take a closer look at the potential first round opponents that the Hawks might face.
5th seed Milwaukee Bucks – 44-34
The Bucks currently sit in 5th place and hold the tie breaker over the Miami Heat. A lot of people like myself figured the Bucks to plummet in the standings after Andrew Bogut suffered a season ending injury on April 3rd but have in fact won their last three games. They are a scrappy defensive bunch that more than emulates their Coach Scott Skiles fiery personality. They do have a tough schedule remaining but I am not going to write them off completely. That said of the two other teams that I am going to highlight I would rather play the Bucks. Especially with Bogut not available. The Bucks remaining schedule looks like this:
April 9th @ Philadelphia
April 10th Boston
April 12th Atlanta
April 14th @ Boston
So two matchups with the Celtics and one with the Hawks isn’t exactly an easy schedule with both of those teams still vying for better positioning in the playoffs. With that schedule I don’t see any way that they are going to be able to hold off the Heat.
6th seed Miami Heat – 44-34
The Miami Heat are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference having won their last 9 games in a row. While they haven’t exactly played the strongest teams during that winning streak they have in fact been able to take care of business which is more than I can say for the Hawks of late. The Hawks lost three of four meetings this season to the Heat and I really don’t want to match up with a team that has a superstar like Dwayne Wade. I would much rather them be matched up with the Celtics in the first round. Miami’s remaining schedule looks like this:
April 9th Detroit
April 11th @ New York
April 12th @ Philadelphia
April 14th New Jersey
That is a much easier schedule than what Milwaukee has to deal with. It wouldn’t be out of the question to assume that the Heat might win all four of their remaining games and go into the playoffs with a 13 game winning streak and the 5th seed in the playoffs.
7th seed Charlotte Bobcats – 42-36 2 games back of 5th
The Hawks split the season series with the Bobcats at 2 games apiece but I still do not want any part of this team in the first round of the playoffs. The Bobcats defend you for 94 feet and I really don’t want to be locked into a series with Larry Brown as the opposing coach. I know he will make adjustments if he needs to and I am not sure that the Hawks will. The Bobcats remaining schedule looks this way:
April 9th @ Houston
April 10th Detroit
April 12th @ New Jersey
April 14th Chicago
The Bobcats in all likelihood are stuck in the 7th spot unless the Bucks suddenly start playing like they lost their franchise Center to a season ending injury and the Bobcats win three of their last four games. The Bobcats would need the Bucks to lose out.
Ultimately I don’t see anyway that the Bucks can hold off the Heat for the 5th spot. The Heat are just playing too well right now and the Bucks remaining schedule is a lot harder. That said I do think the Bucks will win enough to keep a handle on the sixth spot. So I am predicting a finish of Miami, Milwaukee, and Charlotte.
So where does that leave the Hawks? Good question? Under my scenario they will need to finish in the third spot to get the match up that I want with a Bogutless Milwaukee team. There is still a lot left to decide coming down the stretch and will be very important in however it ultimately plays out.