Hawks re­turn to play­offs for first time in nine years

The Covington News - - Sports -

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.

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