Eleven games into this NBA season and already the Hawks are changing course. They're no longer content with just securing the fourth playoff spot again and making sure they can boast of having home-court advantage during the postseason. They want more.
"I haven't really talked about (it) with my guys, but I like being atop the division," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Monday after his team won its fifth straight game. "Expectations are high this year. And they should be. These guys have worked hard to get to this point, and I don't see how accepting anything less than the big prize makes much sense for us."
The Hawks were tied with Phoenix atop the NBA standings through Monday (both were 9-2) with Wednesday's game against playoff foe Miami looming. Even with all the hype surrounding the team right now, though, the Hawks don't see the need to get caught up in it.
"You cannot believe in your own hype," Josh Smith said. "That's the danger zone that we'll avoid now that we've been through it a little bit in the past few years. Seriously, we know better than to get caught up in anything. Our sole focus is the next game, and right now that's Miami."
Woodson swears this team is a different bunch compared to what the Hawks have had in the past, and that includes the team that did well last season.
HAWKS 99, TRAIL BLAZERS 95 (OT): Playing from behind wasn't the hard part for the Hawks, because they knew they could come back from a 12-point deficit against Portland on Monday night at Philips Arena.
Playing the way they did to get down by double digits is what bothered them most.
"We're a better team than we showed those first three quarters," Josh Smith said after the Hawks' come-from-behind overtime win. "That's what really makes you sick."
The Hawks needed all 26 of Joe Johnson's second-half points to secure the win; he finished with a season-high 35 on the night as the Hawks won their fifth straight game. But the Hawks got huge efforts from across the board in completing their first season sweep of the Trail Blazers since the 1996-97 season.
"It says a whole lot about those guys in that locker room," coach Mike Woodson said. "They're playing for something and that's what it's all about at this stage.
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