Losing three straight games to end the regular season last year had most folks expecting an early first-round exit for the Hawks in their series against Boston.It never happened. The Hawks battled the Celtics to seven games, getting blown out in the finale.
Still, few people saw a seven-game series coming after watching the Hawks limp to the finish line in the regular season.
Hawks coach Mike Woodson doesn't want to see his team repeat that mistake of crawling to the finish.
"My thing is, you want to end on a good note so you can really start your preparations for the playoffs. And as soon as we get this fourth spot locked up, we can do that and we can also start resting some guys for the playoffs."
The Hawks still can't let up right now, though, not with Miami and Philadelphia chasing them for the home-court advantage that comes with the fourth spot.
"We have to win games, plain and simple," Josh Smith said. "We need a collective defensive effort and we need to bottle up what we do at home and make sure we open it up on this road trip."
The Hawks play at Milwaukee on Wednesday before returning to Atlanta for a Friday night game against Indiana at Philips Arena.
HAWKS 118, RAPTORS 110: A little urgency is what the Hawks said they needed to get back on track.
And a little urgency is what they showed Tuesday night.
They showed just enough to snap out of their three-game funk and just enough to rally for a crucial 118-110 win over the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
The Hawks stormed back from a 10-point deficit to win on the road for the first time in more than a month -- they won in Washington on March 2.
It couldn't have come at a better time for the Hawks, 44-34 and still trying to fend off Miami and Philadelphia for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Josh Smith led the Hawks' charge with words before the game, insisting that his team needed to take a stand against the Raptors. And he backed that up with action.
He led the Hawks with 25 points, including a 3-for-5 showing from beyond the 3-point line, seven rebounds and two timely blocks. But he was far from a one-man show.
Seven Hawks scored in double figures as they piled up their highest scoring total since a 119-107 home win over Sacramento on March 17, thanks in large part to their 11-for-22 shooting effort from beyond the 3-point line.
Joe Johnson matched Smith's 25 points on 9-for-22 shooting, 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. Mo Evans added 17, including a 3-foor-4 effort from deep.
Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds and Mike Bibby had 13 points and 10 assists. Flip Murray chipped in with 12 off the bench, including nine during an early fourth-quarter run that helped the Hawks take control of the game. And Zaza Pachulia added 11.