The Hawks' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three; the other seven in the Eastern Conference have already been claimed.With road games coming up at Indiana Tuesday and New York Friday, their destiny is in their own hands.
"These guys are hungry, man," coach Mike Woodson said of his team. "They feel that urgency like we all do. They know the importance of it. We're in a great position to do something that a young team has not done in a long time in our league. And that's what we're pushing for."
Woodson has guided the Hawks to the franchise's best win total in a decade, but he's not going to allow his team to let up now. Not with a chance to make a major splash within their grasp.
"It's a lot of fun and not only that, but the excitement is so great knowing that we're finishing off the season on a good note," Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said. "We have a chance to gain a playoff berth. It's the first time since I've been here that we've been in this position. I'm having a great time."
The Hawks are guarding against worrying about anything beyond their next game, Tuesday in Indiana.
The Pacers have Jermaine O'Neal back and seem to be eager to chase a playoff spot themselves. But the Hawks have plenty of incentive of their own.
"We're going in there to handle business," Johnson said. "It's all business form here on out."
HAWKS 92, 76ERS 85: Revenge was a dish best served by veteran Hawks point guard Mike Bibby Saturday night.
Roughly 24 hours after suffering through one of his worst shooting nights of the season in a home loss to Philadelphia, Bibby helped the Hawks return the favor by draining two huge shots in the final minutes to lift the Hawks to a crucial win over the 76ers at Wachovia Center.
Bibby admitted that if he'd made anything Friday night -- he went 1-for-11 in that loss -- the Hawks might have been celebrating back-to-back wins over the 76ers.
"I'm the type of person you have to take the good with the bad," Bibby said after the Hawks' (36-41) sixth win in their last seven games. "People with regular jobs don't have perfect days every day. I'm no different. And this is an up-and-down job for every guy in this locker room.
"So you just have to take the good with the bad."
The good came late Saturday. Bibby was just 2-for-11 from the floor when he hit the first of his two game-changing shots.
The first was a 3-pointer with 2:57 to play that extended the Hawks' lead to 10 points (88-78) and squashed a 76ers run that began six minutes earlier.
The second was a pull-up jumper in the lane with 34.4 seconds to play that finished off the 76ers, who clinched their playoff spot with Friday's win.
"I don't care if he's 0-for-15," Josh Smith said. "He's a shooter and we trust him. In crunch situations I want him to have that same confidence that he always does. And he gave it to us with those two shots that helped finish this game."