ATLANTA — Believe it or not, the Atlanta Hawks clinched the NBA’s Southeast Division title Saturday night without having to play a game.
The team found out they clinched after the Miami Heat lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 122-108 Saturday night.
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Earlier this week the Hawks, who’ve won their last three games and enter tonight’s game with a 40-31 record, found out they’d be in the playoffs for the first time since 2017. And the winning record affords them the luxury of avoiding the NBA’s new “Play-In” playoff games.
It’s a stark turnaround for a team that’s been saddled with injuries to key players throughout the season and fired its head coach at the beginning of March when it was floundering with a 14-20 record.
Since Interim Head Coach Nate McMillan has taken over, heading into tonight’s game, the Hawks have gone 26-11.
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We already know who the Hawks will once they press play in the playoffs--they have a date with the New York Knicks who they are 0-3 against this season.. The only question remaining question is who will be the home team?
Both teams enter their final games with identical records, 40-31. The Knicks play Boston early Sunday afternoon, so the Hawks should know where they stand before their 7 p.m. tipoff with the Rockets.
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Should the Hawks and Knicks end up with identical records, the Knicks own the tiebreaker because of their head-to-head record.
The NBA Play-in tournament starts May 18. The teams not involved but in the playoffs begin play on May 22.