Hawks return to playoffs for first time in nine years
ATLANTA— For the first time since 1999, the Atlanta Hawks are headed to the NBA playoffs.
The Hawks clinched the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference when the Indiana Pacers, the only other team with a mathematical chance, lost atWashington 117110 Monday night. The league’s longest playoff drought ended with Atlanta enjoying an off day.
Atlanta’s last playoff appearance came during the lockoutshortened 1998-99 season, when the team finished second in the Central Division with a lineup that featured Dikembe Mutombo, Mookie Blaylock and Steve Smith. The Hawks defeated Detroit in the opening round, but were swept in four straight games by the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Now in the Southeast Division, the Hawks (37-43) made it back to the postseason largely because of a down year in the East.
Still, the playoffs are a major step forward for a franchise that decided to rebuild after its loss to the Knicks and wound up needing nearly a decade to get it right.