Atlanta Hawks: What the second season of the play-in tournament means

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks will have a totally different view of the play-in tournament this season. Last season, many experts believed that the Hawks would finish between seventh and tenth last season and therefore would compete in the tournament in an effort to make the playoffs.

While there was a case at the end of the season for the Hawks to qualify for the play-in tournament, they famously finished fifth in the Eastern Conference and qualified directly for the playoffs which gave them a dream run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Despite heavy criticism from players like LeBron James and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the NBA has decided that the play-in tournament will return for next season. This is not a bad thing, the tournament gives two teams who normally would not have the chance to qualify for the playoffs.

The Atlanta Hawks will be aiming to skip the play-in tournament.

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The Hawks are going to look to skip the play-in tournament and qualify directly for the playoffs this season. There are a number of benefits for this route, including the break the playoff teams get while the lower-ranked teams battle it out.

One of the other benefits is the higher that a team finishes in the standings, the better the chance they have of getting that vital home-court advantage. While it did not matter for the Hawks in the New York Knicks series because they dominated the matchup, it was more important as the playoffs went on.

While there is a question mark over whether John Collins returns next season, the Hawks will hopefully have Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter back for most of the season which should negate that loss if it happens.

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Given how well the Hawks played under their head coach Nate McMillan there is a strong possibility that the Hawks could finish higher in the standings than this season. This spells danger for most of the other contenders in the East as the Hawks are very deep.