I had pretty much written off any possibility of the Hawks catching the Pacers after the loss to the Celtics. Indiana has a number of games against mediocre teams remaining. However, I hadn't looked very closely at which teams those opponents were. Over their next 5 games, the Pacers play Milwaukee twice and Philladelphia twice, two teams that are battling for the final playoff spot in the East. The other opponent is Minnesota, which is struggling. But in those 4 games against the 76ers and Bucks, nobody is going to lay down for the Pacers.
Meanwhile, between now and April 21st when the Pacers play the last game of that 5-game stretch, the Hawks play Toronto twice, then the Pistons, and then the Celtics on Friday, April 20th. Let's say, just for laughs, the Hawks go 4-0 in those 4 games while the Pacers go 3-2. The Pacers would be 40-24 and the Hawks 39-24, a half game back. At that point, the Hawks would control their own destiny as they would be even in the loss column with Indiana. If the Hawks finish with the same record as the Pacers, they own the tie break by virtue of winning the season series.
As for the upcoming home-and-away set with Toronto, the Hawks can take nothing for granted after a massively-depleted Raptors squad stunned the Celtics last night. Here's a piece by Eric Koreen in the National Post that is yet another example of how Dwane Casey continues to get rave reviews even as his team has struggled. Quoth Casey:
"They’re playing for home-court advantage. We’re playing for pride. We’re playing for culture. That’s about it. Everybody who was in uniform tonight contributed to that. This win was huge."