At 36-37, eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks are on pace to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Led by their star backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, the Hawks made a number of additions around the trade deadline to bolster their chances of making a deep postseason run:

First, adding third-year forward Saddiq Bey, a former first-round selection out of Villanova University. Bey has averaged 10.8 points per game for the Hawks, shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range despite not yet having a consistent role.

Secondly, replacing former head coach Nate McMillan with Quin Snyder in an effort reign in the locker room and provide a fresh outlook for a sputtering offense. Atlanta has gone just 5-7 with Snyder thus far after firing McMillan when they had a 29-30 record. However, the Hawks have averaged 121.8 points per game in March, their highest scoring average of any month this season and all games coached by Snyder.

With these key additions in tow for Atlanta's postseason run, the question is what Eastern Conference team presents the best matchup for the Hawks in the 2023 NBA Playoffs?

Hawks' dream seeding scenario, matchup for 2023 NBA Playoffs

Looking at the Eastern Conference teams that are all but shoo-ins for the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the team that sticks out as the easiest matchup for them in a potential first round battle is the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are currently 46-28, fourth in the Eastern Conference. As a result, the Hawks will have to climb up to the fifth spot, currently held by the 42-32 New York Knicks.

The On-Court Matchups

It will be a game with plenty of fireworks, as Young and Cavs star guard Darius Garland have both improved their defensive intensity and focus but will still have trouble stopping each other one-on-one. Furthermore, Atlanta's frontcourt duo of John Collins and Clint Capela will get to try their hand at guarding Cleveland's talented twin towers in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

As Collins, Capela, Mobley, and Allen benefit highly from the play of their team's point guard, whichever team can slow down the opposing floor general may have the best chance on winning the battle. However, to slow down Young, Cleveland may have to lean on third-year swingman Isaac Okoro. While Okoro is an excellent defensive player, he's an unreliable offensive player that may handicap the Cavs offensively on any given night.

Looking at the starting twos for each team, both Murray and All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell are athletic combo guards, but Mitchell is the better scorer and Murray's the better defender. Murray's defense is so strong, in fact, that it could be the difference-maker. With his pterodactyl-like physique, Murray stands a great chance of contesting the barrage of 3-point attempts that Mitchell is sure to put up and to make it difficult for Mitchell to get all the way to the rim as well.

The X-Factor

Because the frontcourts of both teams can be dominant defensively, the team that's better at shooting from the outside could be the team to emerge victorious. For one, having a player that can draw a big man out of the paint simply opens up the lane for backcourts that know how to cut open and through a defense. Secondly, because the paint could be clogged regularly, the offense will have to take advantage of what the defense gives them.

This could work in the Cavs' favor, as Garland (41.6 percent) and Mitchell (37.9 percent) are much more efficient from 3-point range than Young (34.1 percent) and Murray (35.2 percent). However, the team that is more capable of relying on their teammates to knock down threes is Atlanta, as they have more players in in the rest of their rotation that are efficient from 3-point range.

For the Hawks, this list includes Bey, Bogdan Bogdanovic, AJ Griffin, and De'Andre Hunter, all players who shoot at least 36 percent from 3-point range.

The Cavs only have two players outside of Garland and Mitchell that shoot above 36 percent from 3-point range: Cedi Osman and Caris LeVert, two players who can be considered anything but consistent.

All it may take is one hot night by either of the Hawks backcourt players to win easily. In fact, in their precious matchup, Atlanta defeated Cleveland by a 17-point margin even without John Collins.

Though the Hawks lost to the Cavs in their only other matchup this season, that game saw them playing without Young and it was prior to their additions of Bey and Snyder, as it happened back in November. Even still, the Cavs only managed to edge out the Hawks with a fourth-quarter surge.