Atlanta is fresh off a 124-101 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are out of playoff contention, and need to stay hot as they find themselves engaged in a battle for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a surging Chicago Bulls (43-35) squad. It’s funny how these things work because a long time ago the Hawks were one of the top three teams in the East but have now mellowed out to where they usually are in the playoffs which is between fourth and sixth.
Atlanta has become known for two things; making the playoffs every year, and never advancing past the second round. As it stands now, the Hawks are setting themselves up for more of the same as they have slipped into the sixth spot. The Indiana Pacers are not a team Atlanta wants to face in the first round no matter how the season series went. Besides, hanging with Jay-Z is so much better than taking a field trip to Indiana any day. In order for the Hawks to finish fifth and face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round they need to win their last few games starting with Milwaukee and hope the Bulls lose one or two games.
The Bucks are pretty much locked into the eighth seed and have nothing really to play for except a shot at finishing .500. Atlanta has owned Milwaukee for the most part particularly by getting great play from Al Horford and Jeff Teague in the previous match-ups. The Bucks will be looking to break any momentum Atlanta may be trying to establish as the playoffs loom so that after the first round is done both teams will be in the same spot–home. This will not be an easy task for Milwaukee since they will be playing without Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders.
Milwaukee can only hope Atlanta will play down to their level tonight, which is quite possible, if they plan on stealing a win in Phillips Arena. Even though it’s only the Bucks, this is a must-win game for the Atlanta Hawks if they plan to make a serious run at the fifth seed in the East.