With a four-game winning streak, Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks appear to be doing just enough to hold on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. After barely squeaking past the Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks, the Hawks have added a pair of victories over slightly better competition, the Denver Nuggets and Charlotte Bobcats.
Following Monday’s victory over Kemba Walker and the Bobcats, Atlanta stands four games ahead of the New York Knicks. The Cleveland Cavaliers are five games behind the Hawks, while the Detroit Pistons are pretty much done at 5.5 out of the final playoff spot. Atlanta now has a 30-35 record with just 17 games left.
It has been a complete roller coaster season for the Hawks. They started off a surprising 25-21 despite losing Al Horford early on to a pectoral tear. Then, rookie coach Mike Budenholzer’s team went on a massive losing slump where they won one game out of 15 contests. Even with that slump, Atlanta still was able to hold onto a playoff spot as the bottom half of the Eastern Conference has been absolutely woeful this season.
Now, the Hawks are going to try to keep up with their winning ways. Led by Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, one has to think that they have just enough to hold off the surging Knicks. Millsap was an All-Star this season, while Teague has enjoyed his best statistical season and Korver has burned through some more 3-point shooting records.
With a four-game lead and a team that looks to be hitting a high note again, the Hawks are the favorites to get the final playoff spot in the East.