The factors fueling the Atlanta Hawks' playoff push, and where they go next

Since the Atlanta Hawks replaced coach Lloyd Pierce with Nate McMillan on an interim basis on March 1, no team in the Eastern Conference has a better record than their 20-7 mark.

Atlanta, aiming to return to the NBA playoffs after three rebuilding years in the draft lottery, has moved from 11th in the East when the change was made up to a tie for fourth with the New York Knicks, giving the Hawks a legitimate chance at home-court advantage in the opening round.

Most of the attention on the race for fourth in the East has focused on the even more surprising Knicks -- winners of nine straight games and whose playoff drought is far longer at seven years -- as well as last year's competitors in the Eastern Conference finals (the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat).

Is Atlanta being overshadowed in that competition? What has changed to fuel the Hawks' run over the past two months? And how much of a threat are they to land a first-round upset? Let's take a closer look.