Every now and again, a sports franchise comes along that embodies the bland, the dull, the endless pursuit of the middle of the pack.
Think pale beige. Now make it a bit more pale and lifeless.
Congratulations. You’ve got the Atlanta Hawks.
Five games remain on their schedule and they’re in sixth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. On the plus side, they’ll likely be making the playoffs for the 10th straight season and their nine straight appearances is the conference’s longest active skein. Not too shabby. Everything else? Shabby.
The Hawks last won an NBA title in 1958, when they were based in St. Louis. They moved to Atlanta in 1969 and haven’t been to the NBA Finals in that entire stretch.
The Hawks are a game over .500 (39-38). They’re not great on the road (19-20) and they’re not great at home (20-18). Of the eight teams in the Eastern Conference currently holding playoff spots, the Hawks have the worst record against conference foes (5-10).
Are they going into this stretch run on a streak? Yes. A cold streak. They’ve lost nine of their last 11 games, including two straight.
No matter what they do in their last five games, they cannot move any higher in the playoff standings than the fifth seed. They could, however, fall out. Place your bets, folks.
“For sure, we are going to make the playoffs,” guard Dennis Schroder told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m pretty sure. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to make it. We are going to make it.”