ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks are back in the NBA Playoffs.
The Hawks (41-38) clinched their 10th consecutive playoff appearance on Saturday without taking the court. The Chicago Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets 107-106, securing the Hawks' spot.
The Hawks, who have the second-longest active playoff streak in the NBA only behind the San Antonio Spurs (20) and third-longest active playoff streak in major professional sports, won their second consecutive game on Friday. It was a surprising upset against the Eastern Conference leader Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks rested three of their starters. The win came following a win over the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics on Thursday.
The wins bumped the Hawks up to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. They can only get a playoff seed as high as No. 5. The other top four seeds have already been clinched. If the playoffs were today, the Hawks would face the No. 4 seed Washington Wizards.
The Hawks play Sunday at home against the Cavs. While the Hawks have defeated the defending champion Cavs twice at Quicken Loans Arena this season, head coach Mike Budenholzer laughed when FOX Sports asked him if his team finally had the Cavs' number.
Mike Budenholzer's pregame message? "Let it fly."
Mission accomplished. pic.twitter.com/dmSvz4xjFh— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) April 8, 2017
"No, these guys are an incredible group. They've had an incredible run for, I guess, probably three-plus years. They're going to be ready when it's most important," Budenholzer said on the Cavs. "There's no doubt Cleveland is one of the best teams in our league, and that's what we're building towards is that kind of confidence."
The Hawks' last two playoff runs were cut short thanks to the Cavs. They were swept by the Cavs in the Conference Semifinals last year and lost all four games to Cleveland in the Conference Finals in 2015.
The Hawks have shot 50 and 49 percent in their last two games, respectively, which is the best percentage they've had since March 11. Against the Cavs on Friday, they made 16 threes while holding Cleveland to just nine, showing overall improvement.
Budenholzer credits the bench for coming up big.
"Proud of a lot of guys that haven't played a lot recently, keeping themselves ready," Budenholzer said. "That's kind of the definition of a pro .."
The NBA Playoffs begin on April 15. Here is a schedule and current seedings in both conferences:
April 15: Playoffs begin
May 1: Conference semifinals begin
May 16: Conference Finals begin (possible move up to May 14 or 15)
June 1: NBA Finals begin
June 18: Game 7 of NBA Finals