Two games — that’s how close the Atlanta Hawks are from clinching the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The ninth-place New York Knicks have fallen off and the eighth-place Hawks are in prime position for another post-season appearance.
Any combination of outcomes will get the job done: 2 Hawks wins; 2 Knicks losses; 1 Hawks win + 1 Knicks loss.
Fortunately, it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when, because the Hawks WILL make the playoffs, for the seventh straight season — the longest streak going in the Eastern Conference. It’s virtually guaranteed as they have a 97 percent likelihood, according to John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds at ESPN.com.
Atlanta and New York both have four games remaining in the regular-season. The birds are currently two games ahead in the standings, and also own the tie-breaker over the knickerbockers. The Knicks would have to win every game down the stretch, while the Hawks would have to lose at least three of their last four in order for NY to miraculously leapfrog over ATL for the final playoff spot, or Knicks go 3-1 and Hawks go 0-4.
Both squads are in action on the road Friday night against playoff-bound teams. The Knicks are at Toronto while the Hawks are at Brooklyn.
Check back tonight for an updated post on the race for eighth place.