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News » First tough test looming

First tough test looming

First tough test loomingThe numbers stayed on the dry-erase board in the Hawks' locker room for three full days as a reminder.

Last season's home record (31-10) was written in bold across the top with the road record just as bold right below it (16-25).

Coach Mike Woodson wanted to make sure his players understand that while the top batch of numbers are fine and the bottom batch need serious work, there's no room for slippage on either side.

It turns out it wasn't a necessary motivational tool.

His players already had such things on their minds.

"Don't think we haven't gone back and detailed the games we should have won but didn't," Hawks captain Joe Johnson said. "That's just human nature. At the end of a season, you're going to go back and examine things and figure out your strengths and weaknesses."

After hosting Washington tonight, the Hawks will play six of their next seven games on the road, including a Sunday night matchup with the reigning world champion Los Angeles Lakers. That gives both games a high level of importance to the Hawks , now that they're talking seriously about chasing 50-win seasons and playoff berths after years of dreaming about them.

"We talked about it before last season," Woodson said. "I'm sure these guys are probably tired of me harping on it, but if we're talking about taking that next step, if we're going to try and get to 50-plus wins, we had to first establish ourselves at home and then go out and do the same thing on the road. I think we showed last year that we were among the best teams in the league on our own floor. And we need to maintain that this year, first and foremost."

Last season, they made up for the miscues away from home by owning their own floor for the first time in years. Never was that home edge more important than in the first round of the playoffs against Miami, though the Hawks had to win a game in Miami to make sure they got the series to deciding Game 7 on their own floor.

Still, without that home-court advantage to fall back on, their playoff run might have ended before the conference semifinals.

"I put it all on our fans," Josh Smith said. "They're the ones that have turned Philips Arena into what it is. We feed off of them when we're here, and we struggle without them on the road.

"The best teams in the league, the best of the very best, don't care where they play. We have to adopt that sort of attitude of wanting to silence crowds on the road while still taking care of our business when we're here."

Next for Hawks

Who: vs. Wizards

When: 7:30 p.m. today

TV; radio: FSSO; 790

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 30, 2009


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