Greetings! The final week of the regular season is upon us, and the Hawks have two must-win games if they want to grab on to the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a look.
Hawks vs. Raptors — Tuesday, April 16th — 7:30 PM ET
The Raptors are playing better basketball recently (5-5 in their last 10), but it would be a tough pill to swallow to lose a crucial home game here. Toronto is pretty talented when healthy, but the Hawks have the best two players on the court (Horford and Smith) and with the Raps having nothing to play for, this should be another “take care of business” spot. The match-up to watch for me comes at point guard, as Jeff Teague squares off with the always-pesky Kyle Lowry, and if Teague can avoid turnovers against the swarming pressure that Lowry always provides, that would be a big win for Atlanta.
Hawks @ Knicks — Wednesday, April 17th — 8:00 PM ET
On paper, this is a tough spot. Fortunately, the Knicks have already wrapped up the #2 seed, and it is a strong possibility that they’ll be resting some guys for the playoffs. Of course, it’s difficult to project absences, so if Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and company all see the court, it’s obviously a tough match-up. There is a lot to be said, however, for the “need” to win and Atlanta certainly has the hunger edge in this game. Carmelo has been out of his mind for about 3 weeks, and if former Hawks coach Mike Woodson chooses to sit him? No one in Atlanta would be upset. At any rate, it’s a must-win game.
If the Hawks win both of these games, it’s likely that they’ll hold off Chicago for the 5th seed. If they struggle and drop one or both? It’s time for a match-up with Indiana, and without home-court in the series, it would be a very, very difficult ask to make it to round two. This should be fun.