With their 119-98 victory over the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers drew to within two games of the eighth, and final, playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
And they have a big game coming up Friday as they continue their trip through the South with a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, who are percentage points behind the New York Knicks for that final playoff spot after suffering a 105-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls Wednesday.
"We know what's at stake," guard Dion Waiters said after the win over Orlando. "We know we need these seven games. As long as we go out here and play hard, and we feel that we fought hard enough and we didn't come out with a win, we're fine with that. I feel as though we're in the driver's seat right now, and we've got an opportunity to make the playoffs, so why not take these last six games and leave it all on the floor.
"We need this one. We need this one, no matter what the situation is. We've got to bring that intensity. We've got to bring the fight. We know it's going to be a dog fight, but, at the end of the day, if we come and play how we did, we shouldn't have to worry about it."
Should the Cavaliers close the gap between themselves and the Knicks and Hawks and clinch a playoff berth, it would be their first postseason appearance since 2010, when they earned the No. 1 seed and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Boston Celtics.
"They're fun because this is the first time in my career where these games, especially at the end of the season, are starting to mean something, and we're playing against teams that are fighting for spots as well," guard Kyrie Irving said. "It makes the games that much more fun.
"To go out there and compete, guys have got to step up. It's a big-time game, big-time games coming up and you've just got to look forward to those types. We're just going to prepare for Atlanta as best we can, see what things we can take away from this game and just move on."
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has been a part of many postseason trips, both as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers, and head coach previously with the Cavaliers, and knows that his players have to take care of their business on the court and forget about "scoreboard watching" what other teams are doing around the NBA over the next two weeks.
Taking care of their own business will not be an easy task, as once they get done with the Hawks on Friday, the Cavaliers host the Charlotte Bobcats, who hold the No. 7 spot in the conference, on Saturday and end the season with a home game against the Brooklyn Nets, the likely No. 5 seed in the East.
"Every game we play is big for us because of the position we put ourselves in," Brown said. "(Wednesday) was a big game for us, and we have to come and play the right way and see if we can get a win.
"We know that we want to go play the right way and win, so it's easy for us. It's nothing tricky that we have to do. We just have to keep getting ready for the next thing in front of us, go out and practice hard or go out and play hard. It's just as simple as that.
"I just know that with where we are, we've got to play good basketball, and we've got to go try to win. We've put ourselves in this hole, so the only thing we can do is our part to have a chance."