Posted: 9:22 am Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Is the Pacers’ slide a bad break for the Hawks? 

By Mark Bradley

The Bulls enjoyed beating Indy on Monday. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The Bulls enjoyed beating Indy on Monday. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

The Atlanta Hawks, who’ve lost three games in four days, are lucky to be 2 1/2 games ahead of New York for the final playoff spot in the East. (That’s if you consider making the playoffs preferable to landing in the NBA lottery, which the Hawks apparently do.) Had the Knicks not blown a 15-point halftime lead at home against wretched Cleveland on Sunday, the Hawks’ lead would be two games with 13 remaining.

It could be that the Hawks will get unlucky regarding their postseason opponent. (According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, as posted on ESPN.com, they have an 88.9 percent chance of making it.) The Indiana Pacers, who are apt to be the No. 1 seed in the East, are stinking out the joint. They’ve lost three of four and seven of 12. They’ve beaten one team that’s above .500 since Feb. 7.

Worse, the Pacers appear to be in disarray. Team president Larry Bird told Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star that he believed the Pacers had become too passive. After Monday’s loss in Chicago, Brian Windhorst of ESPN wrote of guard Lance Stephenson: “At times, he flat-out hogs the ball,” and suggested that the midseason acquisitions of Andrew Bynum and Evan Turner had alienated the incumbent players, who after all had forged the best record in the East.

After Monday’s game, forward David West told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star that the team looked like crud, although he used a different word. Some of this is surely a function of the elongated NBA regular season, in which the Pacers really have nothing more to prove. But Indiana is different from the Miami Heat, who have themselves been sliding: Miami knows it can gather itself for the playoffs because it has won consecutive NBA titles; unless you go back to the ABA days of Roger Brown and Mel Daniels and Freddie Lewis, the Pacers have no such history.

The Pacers hold a two-game lead over Miami with 11 games to play. (The Heat have 13 games remaining.) The two will meet twice. It’s possible, though not probable, that Indiana could fall to second place, which wouldn’t be great news for the No. 8 seed, which figures to be the Hawks. The Pacers have been very good for most of this season and did beat the Hawks in Round 1 last spring. All things considered, I’d still rather face the team that doesn’t have LeBron.

From myajc.com, our premium site: Can the Hawks win a playoff round? Probably not.

 

13 comments
-OBrien-
-OBrien-

" It’s possible, though not probable, that Indiana could fall to second place" MB.

What do you know.  It is now likely :)

ReggieTheMailman
ReggieTheMailman

Actually the Hawks matchup better with the Heat than the Pacers....they beat the Heat in Atlanta and had them beat in Miami till a phantom foul call in the end forced overtime. The Heat can't guard Paul Milsap but Paul can't score vs Indiana.....look it up

seminoleking
seminoleking

when will the nba front office LET the hawks build a championship team instead of using them as just a win enough games so we can make money but forget about the fans franchise????

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

It doesn't really matter to me whether we get smoked by the Pacers or Heat. Let's lose out and get a ping-pong ball.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

By the way, the Pacers will still smoke the Hawks in a playoff series, so it won't matter whether the Hawks play the Heat or the Pacers. The only advantage to playing the Pacers is that Philips Arena won't be packed with fans pulling for the other team.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Hey Mark,

Remember in the 80's when the Hawks actually matter?

I realize it is hard to report this bunch.

The day Ted Turner sold us was the end of the Hawks.

It hurt us with the Braves too. 

He made us and he broke us. 


NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

No, the Knicks' slide is a bad break for the Hawks.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I dont think it will matter.  Without Horford, they are already short.  Now Korver has been out.  Milsap has missed time.  This is a solid playoff team with all hands on deck.  The probably would have ended up with the 3rd or 4th seed.  But as it stands, they will limp into the playoffs.  It wont matter who they play.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Hate to be the bearer of bad news..............but it does not matter who we play in the first round.............unless they would have kept that three seed and then perhaps and this is a BIG perhaps they would have made it to the second round.  This is more about getting playoff money for the guys on the team.  Miami and Indiana ( whoever we play) will hit a switch come playoff time...........and the Hawks will be what we all know they will be...............ROADKILL!

JackClemens
JackClemens

For me this Hawks season is like the beginning of a longterm a science experiment. Win or lose, they have no chance of winning it all. I'm interested in the outcome, but it won't be known this season.