ATLANTA --- Jamal Crawford has waited 666 games and almost a decade to make it to the NBA playoffs for the first time.
What's a couple more days?
The Atlanta Hawks' sixth-man extraordinaire has spent most of his career playing for some of the league's worst teams.
Only two others have been in more regular-season games than Crawford without making it to the playoffs. His staggering drought is surpassed only by Tom Van Arsdale (929) and Otto Moore (682), according to STATS LLC.
"I don't wish that on anybody," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "When you play NBA basketball, you're meant to play playoff basketball."
The Hawks, tied with Boston for the third spot in the Eastern Conference, merely need one more win -- or a Chicago loss -- to wrap up their third consecutive trip to the playoffs.
Crawford is eager to find out what all the fuss is about.
"It really hasn't hit me, honestly," he said. "I think it will hit me after the last game of the regular season. I'll know it's really here the night before the game."
Over the first nine years of his career, playing for Chicago, New York and Golden State, Crawford was part of teams that went a combined 231-507 (.313). He never played on a team that won more than 33 games or finished within seven games of the playoffs, even though he developed into a prolific scorer who became only the fourth player in NBA history to score 50 points in a game with three different teams.
Atlanta had been to the playoffs two years in a row even with one of the league's youngest teams, reaching the second round a year ago. Though keenly aware that his postseason odds had improved dramatically, Crawford didn't take anything for granted. Throughout the first half of the year, he always made sure to put an "if" in front of any talk about playing in the postseason.
"I knew I was going to the playoffs, but you never know. I didn't want to jinx anything," he said. "Anything can happen. I didn't want to take it for granted. I've been in that situation before."