Last week, I so eloquently explained why tanking for the East's six seed to avoid the Heat might be the very worst idea forever of all-time. See? I can always be that eloquent.
However, the Bulls can't always play great basketball. Their two game losing streak against the Raptors and Heat dropped them down to the six line, and even though they have since partially rectified the damage with a win against Orlando, it will be tough to get the edge in the playoff race...
... except that, you know, the odds explicitly state that they will be the 5 seed victors with some major help from their tiebreaker. Looking at our analytics, let's break down what should happen the next two days for these two teams trying to avoid Indiana in Round One.
As it stands right now, the Bulls hold a 58.3 percent odds of grabbing the five seed. No teams other than the Hawks and Bulls are in the running; this means Atlanta holds a 41.7 percent chance at facing Brooklyn in round one.
These obviously aren't overwhelming odds, to be sure. If the Bulls lost to the Wizards on the final night of the season, they would also need Atlanta to lose both of their remaining two contests to still make the playoffs. Of course, they'll know going in whether a win is necessary since the Hawks play the Raptors tonight, and it could very well be the case that Atlanta holds the edge heading into the final day of the season.
However, as of now, the odds are strongly in favor of the Hawks losing at least one, if not both, of their games. Toronto would seem to be the easy opponent, but I wouldn't sleep on the Raptors quite yet.
Tale of the Tape: Atlanta vs. Toronto
In addition to getting their fill of Chik-Fil-A (would it really kill them to build one in Toronto?), the Raptors also plan on playing a basketball game at some point in Phillips Arena. At least, they'll put on the facade: this game doesn't mean a darn thing for the Raptors.
However, the numbers say that it still might be close. While the Hawks clearly have the superior defense, allowing 3.5 less points per 100 possessions than their Canadian counterparts, Atlanta actually has a less efficient offense. The Raptors have scored 105.5 points per 100 possessions this season, good for an average No. 16 in the NBA. The Hawks sit two spots lower at No. 18, only having scored 104.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Hawks may have the edge, but it's closer than you'd think. In fact, the Raptors hold the edge in three of the four offensive Four Factors categories, while the Hawks hold the edge in each category on the defensive side of the ball.
|Team||Off. eFG%||Off. TOV%||ORB%||Off. FT/FGA||Def. eFG%||Def. TOV%||DRB%||Def. FT/FGA|
I have to imagine it's not exactly a good thing for Atlanta's playoff hopes that the only one of the offensive Four Factors where they aren't in the bottom five of the league is effective field goal percentage, where they rank sixth overall. Toronto, meanwhile, sits in the top 11 in both offensive turnover percentage and offensive free throw factor.
This means strength will be going against strength in tonight's game. It won't be an easy one for the Hawks. While they may hold an edge in the playoff race if they win tonight, that win still isn't guaranteed.
For our hypothetical money, we're still expecting those Brooklyn/Chicago and Indiana/Atlanta matchups in the East's first round. Sorry Hawks fans, but you might be screwed yet again.
If you're looking for game projections, including the exact projected score, of tonight's Atlanta/Toronto game and all of tomorrow's contests, check out numberFire's Premium Section now and throughout the Playoffs. And for full championship odds, check out our Team Rankings page, where the Heat rule the roost.