Following up from a post I published on Friday with the updated playoffs berth, the Atlanta Hawks for a tenth straight season have clinched a playoff berth. They are the fifth team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff berth. At 41-38, the Hawks were a bit shaky the past two weeks, but with two consecutive victories, they have clinched the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
By beating the top two teams in the East consecutively, the Celtics and the Cavs, the Hawks were able to clinch a playoff berth with three games to go (They are playing the Cavs again today.)
After losing veteran center Al Horford to free agency this past offseason, it seemed the Hawks might take a step back in the East after getting to the playoffs for nine straight seasons, but that is not so. Although they did win 48 games in the 2015-2016 campaign and the most possible wins this season could be 43, the Hawks still were able to pull together under coach Budenholzer and reach the 40 game plateau that is 100% needed to clinch a playoff berth in a very tight Eastern Conference.
The addition of Dwight Howard proved to work out for the Hawks as they were able to use the combination of Millsap and Howard in the backcourt for alot of their successes. They also lost Jeff Teague this past offseason, who joined the Indiana Pacers, but that made for the development of guys like Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore who have really used this season as stepping stone to making a name for themselves in the NBA.
Schroder, a native of Germany, is averaging 18.1 points per game this season for the Hawks to go along with just over six assists per game. He is also averaging 85% from the free throw line which has definitely been a plus for the Hawks in close games down the stretch. Bazemore is averaging 11 points per game for the Hawks and has also helped big time on the defensive side of the floor. Rookie Taurean Prince has also been a huge asset for the Hawks this season as the Baylor product in averaging just over 16 minutes per game this season for the Hawks.