Hawks season play-in

All-Pro Reels, CC-BY-SA 2.0

All-Pro Reels, CC-BY-SA 2.0

After a regular season that included injuries, COVID outbreaks, and streaks of winning and losing, the Atlanta Hawks finished with a 43-39 record, their second consecutive season finishing with more wins than losses. This record was good for the ninth seed in the Eastern conference, placing the Hawks in the Play-in tournament to battle for a playoff spot. 

The NBA’s tournament was introduced during the 2020 season to expand the post-season from eight teams per conference to ten teams per conference. The bottom four seeds play a tournament, with the seventh seed playing the eighth seed and the ninth seed playing the tenth seed. The winner of the seven-eight game earns a spot in the playoffs, while the loser plays the winner of the nine-ten game for the second available spot in each conference. With the Hawks finishing as the nine seed, they first played the ten seeded Charlotte Hornets at home. 

The Hawks dominated from early on, suppressing the Hornet’s star point guard Lamelo Ball and assuming a ten-point lead at halftime, despite poor shooting from the all-star point guard, Trae Young. In the second half, Young erupted, making key plays down the stretch, and the Hawks secured a 132- 103 blowout win.  

The Hawks then progressed to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road for a shot at the postseason. In the first half, Young made two field goals after being harassed by the Cavaliers team defense. The Hawks headed to the locker room at halftime down ten points, despite play from guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and forward Danilo Gallinari. When Young took the floor for the second half, the game swayed very quickly. After knocking down consecutive long three-pointers late in the third quarter, the Cavaliers called a timeout. In the fourth quarter, Young hit a floater to secure the Hawks their first lead since early in the first quarter. The Hawks were able to secure a win after a key steal from guard Kevin Huerter, and a career-high 30 points in the second half from Young.  

The Hawks now move on to play the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs.