Sure, they could be first-round fodders against either the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers. But that’s not stopping the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks from trying their best to the postseason.
With less than five or six games to go for these teams, the final two weeks of the regular season just got more interesting. Who will nab the eighth and final playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference?
Will it be Carmelo Anthony and the much-maligned Knicks? Or will Paul Milsaap tow his Hawks to the playoffs? Or could veterans Jarret Jack and Luol Deng make the improbable happen?
Battle for the East’s 8th Spot
8. New York Knicks (33-43) 9. Atlanta Hawks (32-42) 10. Cleveland Cavaliers (31-45)
The Cavaliers and the Knicks are making their last stand this season with a string of good games recently while the Hawks continued to slide (once upon a time Atlanta owned the 3rd seed in the East).
New York Knicks (3 home, 3 away) - WAS, @MIA, @TOR, CHI, @BKN, TOR Atlanta Hawks (5 home, 3 away) CLE, @IND, DET, BOS, @BKN, MIA, CHA, @MIL Cleveland Cavaliers (4 home, 2 away) @ATL, CHA, DET, @MIL, BOS, BKN
The Knicks and Cavaliers are serious push for that last spot. On Wednesday, both squads left nothing to chances and won via blowouts—New York beat up Brooklyn, 110-81 and Cleveland clobbered Orlando, 119-98. Meanwhile, Atlanta fell at home to the Chicago Bulls, 105-92.
The Hawks’ remaining schedule looks bleakest among the three as well; they’ll face the Pacers and Nets on the road and take on the Heat and Bobcats at home. Their next game—a date with the Cavaliers on Friday could very well decide who will battle the Knicks for the final playoff spot.
Of course, nothing is assured in this last two weeks. Even the Knicks will have to finish the regular season through a tough stretch. New York’s last six games are all against playoff contenders! For Cleveland? They are the dark horse in this race…particularly because they will draw the easiest opponents in their final six games—getting three scrub teams in the Pistons, Bucks and Celtics.