The Atlanta Hawks currently hold a 3.5 game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Based on their play recently, it does not seem that they really want it.
The Hawks have now won two straight games. Each of those two wins have come against two of the NBA’s worst teams. The Hawks barely defeated the Utah Jazz on Monday night, 112-110. On Thursday night, they struggled once again to put away an inferior Milwaukee Bucks team, as they squeaked out a 102-97 victory. Atlanta has won just three of its last 17 games.
Mike Budenholzer has enough talent on his team that they shouldn’t struggle this badly against poor opponents. Jeff Teague is a good point guard. Paul Millsap was an All-Star this season. Kyle Korver can flat out shoot. DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott are quality role players.
With a record of 28-35, Atlanta’s closest competitors for the final spot are the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers. As far as the remainder of the schedule looks for Atlanta, they have just nine games left against teams with sub-.500 records.
In all likelihood, the team that grabs the final seed in the Eastern Conference might only need 35 wins, at most. That would require the Hawks finishing the season with a record of 7-12 in their final 19 games. With Teague, Millsap and Korver leading the way, Atlanta does have a chance. They will probably have to pull a few upsets along the way.
Still, with those three at the helm, the Hawks should be more focused and not have as much trouble putting away teams like the Jazz and the Bucks. If they are serious about making the playoffs, they have no choice but to come out more focused. Based on their recent efforts, it does not seem like they are serious at all.