Hawks already in the playoffs but are challenged with injuries

The sixth time in the playoffs may be the charm for the Atlanta Hawks.

On Wednesday, the  Hawks defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-88 at the Air Canada Centre to clinch the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

“We have to get in the frame of mind on getting ready mentally, just being sharp and playing with a sense of urgency to improve,” head coach Larry Drew said.

Although the Hawks have experience in competing in the playoffs, they have faced with a challenge in going deep into postseason play– injuries.

Prior to last night’s game against the Orlando Magic, it was announced that reserve center Zaza Pachulia will undergo season ending Achilles surgery. The loss of Zaza will be another blow to the Hawks’ bench after losing guard Lou Williams in January.

“Any time you lose a key piece like Zaza, you got to have some guys to step up,” Drew said. “Hopefully the guys will take the challenge.”

In addition to Pachulia being out for the season, more injuries and illness have plagued the team. Starting center Al Horford has missed two games (including last night’s game) due to stomach illness. Guard John Jenkins was also out for last night’s game due to a concussion.

“Here we are at game 74, we want to be healthy as we can as we run down this stretch run of the season,” Drew said. “I don’t think there’s a need to jeopardize that. Hopefully they’ll be ready when we get into the playoffs.”

Despite making the playoffs for the past six seasons, the Hawks have yet to advance far enough to compete in the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals like their division foes Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

The question now is what would be key for Atlanta to finally make a deep run, a favorable matchup or home field advantage?

“Looking at what our situation with the remaining games,” Drew said. “We got to take it at a game at a time. You can’t look too far down the road.”