Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore, guard Dennis Schroeder and guard Kyle Korver celebrate a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in Washington. The Hawks 122-101. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Hawks clinch ninth straight playoff berth with Wizards loss

Atlanta clinched its ninth straight postseason berth – the longest current run in the Eastern Conference – without playing Tuesday. The Hawks earned a playoff berth when the Wizards lost at the Warriors, 102-94. The Hawks could have clinched earlier in the night but the host Pistons defeated the Thunder (without Kevin Durant), 88-82.

The Hawks (45-30) had a magic number of one after their win over the Bulls on Monday. They stand third in the Eastern Conference, holding a one-game lead over the Heat, with seven regular-season games remaining. The Hawks playoff spot became virtually assured with their recent play. They have won four straight, nine out of 10 and 12 out of 14 games.

“I think that’s going to happen either way,” Korver said recently when asked of the possibility of clinching a playoff berth. “We feel pretty confident about that. We are going to be a playoff team. It’s just where we are going to be. When it’s all said and down, no matter what the standings say, we want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. It feels like we are headed in that direction.”

The Hawks continue the stretch run of the regular season Wednesday at the Raptors, the conclusion of a three-game road trip. The Hawks then play four straight games at home against the Cavaliers, Suns, Raptors and Celtics. The season ends with a two-game road trip at the Cavaliers and Wizards.

The NBA playoffs begin on April 16.

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