Hawks coach Mike Woodson's preoccupation with the Boston Celtics might not strike some people as healthy.But Woodson's motives are pure.
He insists he's only trying to watch and learn from the current kings of the court.
"I just think about how they were able to get it done from beginning to end," Woodson said. "They had three guys and still have those three guys in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, those three great players, that carried them.
"But make no mistake about it, their defense is what won that title. They refused to give in from a defensive standpoint, and I'm talking about every single step of the way. People that don't understand that aren't really examining that team and what they did the way they should."
That's why Woodson and his Hawks are eager to get back on the floor at TD Bankorth Garden Wednesday night against the Celtics, a team they didn't come close to beating on that floor in four tries in their seven-game playoff series last spring.
That's also where the Hawks' current roll began, though.
"That series is where this confidence began," said Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson. "That series has done so much, starting with the confidence, but also because we were humbled in the end; it let us know we can play with the best.
"That's why we have this chip on our shoulder right now. It's made us come out aggressive this year from the start."
HAWKS 113, BULLS 108: The years of tumult associated with the Hawks franchise is history to Al Horford.
It's only something he's either heard others talk about with lament or something he's read about.
His only season in a Hawks uniform ended with 37 wins, a playoff berth and a sterling performance in that seven-game series against Boston.
That's why the fact the Hawks hadn't won in the United Center since he was a senior in high school didn't register with the second-year center Tuesday night.
It's also why Horford had no problem making himself at home on the Chicago Bulls' home court, imposing his will early and often on the home team as the Hawks slugged their way to a 113-108 win.
It was the Hawks' sixth straight win and first here since April, 2004, snapping a seven-game losing streak in this building.
Horford was all over the floor from the start, piling up 16 points, seven rebounds and a season-high tying five blocks ... by halftime. He finished his night with 27 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks -- season highs in every category -- and countless other crucial plays that helped keep the Hawks perfect heading into Wednesday night's game against the Celtics at TD Banknorth Garden.
Since the Hawks are playing without starting power forward Josh Smith, Horford has been more active on the offensive end and has been as physical and nasty as ever on defense.