ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks could clinch their 10th consecutive NBA Playoffs appearance on Saturday without even taking the floor.
The Hawks, who have the second longest active playoff streak in the NBA only behind the San Antonio Spurs (20), 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. If the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls lose Saturday night, the Hawks clinch a playoff spot without playing. They can only get a playoff seed as high as No. 5. The other top four seeds have already been clinched.
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.
"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."
Mike Budenholzer's pregame message? "Let it fly."— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) April 8, 2017
Mission accomplished. pic.twitter.com/dmSvz4xjFh
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 .."
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