The Hawks have two games against the current No. 7 seed Nets in the next five days, starting tonight at Philips Arena. They will have a chance to knock the Nets back down the standings. Maybe more importantly, the Hawks can push the Nets back into the draft lottery, still holding the right to swap first-round picks.
It might not be the sole motivation for winning, but the Hawks know what's at stake.
"So I hear, I'm not a big front-office guy, but we get that first-round pick," Kent Bazemore said. "I think these are two very important games riding on this. ...
"I think we are anxious (for the playoffs to start). But if you look too far ahead you might trip on something right in front of you."
The Heat remain in the No. 8 spot and are currently the Hawks' first-round opponent. The Hornets loss Friday dropped them to two games out of the final spot.
The Nets, Heat and Hornets are all in action Saturday night.
Here’s how things stand in the Eastern Conference for the final two spots:
7. Brooklyn (35-40) 21.0 GB 7 games remaining
8. Miami (34-41) 22.0 GB 7 games remaining
9. Boston (34-42) 22.5 GB 6 games remaining
10. Indiana (33-43) 23.5 GB 6 games remaining
11. Charlotte (32-43) 24.0 GB 7 games remaining
Nets: 5 home, 2 away – at Hawks April 4, vs. Trail Blazers April 6, vs. Hawks April 8, vs. Wizards April 10, at Bucks April 12, vs. Bulls April 13, vs. Magic April 15
Heat: 4 home, 3 away – at Pistons April 4, at Pacers April 5, vs. Hornets April 7, vs. Bulls April 9, vs. Raptors April 11, vs. Magic April 14, at 76ers April 15
Celtics: 2 home, 4 away – at Raptors April 4, at Pistons April 8, at Cavaliers April 10, vs. Cavaliers April 12, vs. Raptors April 14, at Bucks April 15
Pacers: 4 home, 2 away – vs. Heat April 5, at Knicks April 8, at Pistons April 10, vs. Thunder April 12, vs. Wizards April 14, at Grizzlies April 15
Hornets: 3 home, 4 away – vs. 76ers April 4, at Heat April 7, vs. Raptors April 8, at Hawks April 10, at Pistons April 12, vs. Rockets April 13, at Raptors April 15