The Atlanta Hawks are all set to face the Miami Heat in a one-game, winner-take-all battle on April 11, though the loser will get another shot at playoff life against the winner of the 9-10 matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls.
Still, there is plenty of history between these two teams dating back most notably to their showdown in the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Miami dispatched Atlanta in five games largely by shutting down Trae Young.
The Hawks made one of the offseason’s biggest splashes, trading multiple first-round picks for Dejounte Murray to take some of the pressure off Young. With a 41-41 record in the regular season, a head coaching change, and multiple rumors fueling speculation that the Hawks front office has the green light to seek a trade for Young, things are as murky as ever.
There is also the issue of the Heat beating the Hawks in three of the previous four encounters this season. Young averaged 19.8 points on 52.5% true shooting in the series – his second-fewest points on his sixth-worth efficiency against any opponent this season.
If the Hawks finally solve the puzzle that is the Heat, they will move on to face the No. 2 seed, the Boston Celtics, as the seventh seed.
Atlanta Hawks playoff schedule 2023
April 11, 7:00 p.m. ET @ Miami Heat (TNT)
April 14 (if necessary), 7/7:30 p.m. ET vs Winner of CHI/TOR (TNT)
Assuming the Hawks win, they will do so knowing they were winless in three tries against Boston during the regular season. However, Young was much better in his two appearances against the Celtics than he was versus the Heat averaging 31 points on 55.6% true shooting against an admittedly different animal than what he might face in the first round of the playoffs.
Head coach Quin Snyder has already made it a point to say that the Play-In matchup versus Miami will be a good warmup test for facing Boston.
The Hawks have to survive Toronto first, however.
If they can’t, they should want to see Toronto whom they beat in two of their three meetings this season over Chicago with whom they split the regular-season series.
Back-to-back losses to end the regular season spoiled what seemed like a well-timed surge ahead of a critical postseason and offseason. The Hawks had won five of their last seven games before that and appeared to be finding some level of consistency.
They need to tap into that again as they take their first crack at the playoffs under Snyder.
Otherwise, they could very well find themselves facing another disheartening exit at the hands of the Heat.
And this time, it could come with severe consequences for a fairly large part of this roster, Young notwithstanding as Snyder gets the chance to mold the roster in his image this offseason.