By Virtue of Chicago’s 101-93 victory over the Celtics, the Hawks have clinched the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Hawks stand with 52 wins heading into tonight’s season finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Those 52 wins mark a 5 game improvement over last season and a one spot jump in the standings from the 4th seed to the number 3 spot. However, everyone around this team understands that their improvement will be measured not by the regular season but by how they do in the post season.
As the three seed the Hawks will either play Milwaukee or Miami in the first round. At the moment Miami has a one game lead over the Bucks and have their final game tonight against the last place New Jersey Nets. The Bucks square off against the Celtics whom I full expect to rest players tonight and not risk injury now that they are locked into the fourth seed. In short if Miami wins tonight then the Hawks will play the Bucks, if the Heat lose and the Bucks win then the Hawks would face the Heat.
By clinching the spot last night enables the Hawks to rest players tonight. There has been no official word that I am aware of if they plan to do this but I would not expect to see the regulars play anything more than marginal minutes tonight. It is all but certain that Jamal Crawford would sit out with an injured toe. Word coming out of Cleveland that there was a possibility that Shaquille O’Neal and perhaps LeBron James might play limited minutes tonight but nothing is certain.
Congrats to the Hawks on an excellent regular season. Now lets go make some noise in the playoffs!