The impact for the Atlanta Hawks of the Heat claiming the top seed

Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Heat clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the fourth time in the history of the franchise. Now that they have two games remaining, they might look to rest some of their stars and this could help the Atlanta Hawks who take on the Heat in the next game.

The Heat can still be tied for total wins by the Milwaukee Bucks. These two teams split the season series 2-2 but the Heat will finish on top of the Bucks thanks to the tiebreaker rules if they lose the next two and the Bucks win both of their games.

This is where it may become interesting for the Hawks in their penultimate game of the season. Now, I am not suggesting that the Heat are going to do the wrong thing and not play to their best. However, if they have a preferred team that they would like to face in the first round, then this may impact who they rest in the final two games.

The Atlanta Hawks are not a team that anyone wants to face in the first round.

The Heat have forced the Hawks three times this season, all in January. The first two meetings were during the Hawks’ Covid-19 crisis and the Heat won both of them. However, when the Hawks got most of their team back they troubled the Heat, beating them at home.

The Heat might want to unleash the Hawks onto the second seed, who at this stage is the Milwaukee Bucks, and by resting their stars they give the Hawks the best chance. If the Hawks win both of their matchups then they will be in the play-in game for the seventh seed. If they lose one then they are likely to fall into the eighth seed games.

Given that the Charlotte Hornets have not looked good against top-seeded opponents even with Gordon Hayward back, the Heat may want to keep them in the 10th seed. They would also prefer to see the Cleveland Cavaliers fall into the ninth seed as they are spluttering to the end of the season.

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If the Heat can help the Hawks finish higher, then this would benefit their playoff chances. Remember how the Hawks took the eventual champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, to within two games of the NBA Finals last season before that Trae Young ankle injury. If the Hawks could take on the second-seeded Bucks and beat them then the Heat would see that as beneficial.