This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks are resting and coasting their way to the finish line, the Washington Wizards go streaking, there’s a switch in division standings for the first time in quite awhile, and the Orlando Magic are doing Orlando things. No, not going to Disney World, but losing games…and okay well maybe going to Disney World too, but what does that have to do with basketball?
It’s weird to be talking about how the Hawks haven’t been playing well, but…they haven’t been playing well. The Los Angles Lakers game doesn’t count cause they were resting players, but before that Atlanta received a throttling to a revived Denver Nuggets, and needed a 4th quarter come back to escape Phoenix with a victory. It makes sense that after clinching the playoffs, and at this point of the season, the Hawks would coast a little to the end, but it’s a little worrisome to see them play so horribly at times. If they ever go through a stretch like that in the playoffs it could cost them a game. However, if any of these problems they’re having are real, they can figure them out now with a month before the games really begin to matter again.
The Wizards are going streaking! They’ve won three in a row with some quality wins against a Hornets team they had lost five times to going in to last season, and an even bigger win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Washington has struggled beating better teams for much of the season, but if they can get back to what made them great early in the year then they could become a threat in the East once more.
The Hornets stayed .500 this week and that was just good enough to jump them up a spot in the division standings, and right in to the playoffs. The jump came at a price though with Charlotte receiving injuries to both Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller, but Kemba Walker is back. They pulled off a big and needed win against the Chicago Bulls this week, but losses to the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings left a lot on the table. Right now they have one less win and the same amount of losses as the 7th seed Indiana Pacers. Hindsight is 50/50, but had the Wizards gone 3-1 on the week then they would be in the 7th spot, and a clean sweep would have put them in sole possession of a favorable playoff spot. Instead, a loss Monday night could tumble them right back down to 9th.
One rough week for Miami and they’re knocked right back out of the playoffs. A tough loss to a surging Boston Celtics squad is how they started their week, and then it ended with a shellacking at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. Miami has just as good a chance at making the playoffs as Charlotte, and it might end up coming down to which team gets a little luckier between injuries, strength of schedule, and how the basketball bounces. They do get Cleveland on a back to back, in Miami, on Monday night and that could be a potential bi game for them to steal.
The Magic are bad again! 1-5 this week with their one win being quite a surprise against the Celtics. However, this same Magic team then blew what should have been two wins for the week against that same Celtics team. There was also a close loss to Milwaukee this week, but the “highlights” of the week are two beatdowns Orlando received at the hands of the Pacers and Cleveland. Ouch.