The Atlanta Hawks are closing in on home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.They will try to take another step toward the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday night when they look to end their four-game road losing streak against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Atlanta (44-34) is three games ahead of fifth-place Miami in the race for home-court advantage in the first round. The Hawks haven't had home-court advantage in any playoff series since 1999.
"We are trying to win that fourth spot," coach Mike Woodson said. "We've still got a lot of work ahead of us with four games left, two at home and two on the road."
The Hawks ended a three-game skid with a 118-110 victory at Toronto on Tuesday by breaking out of their long-range shooting slump. Atlanta made 11 of 22 3-pointers in its highest scoring effort since March 17.
During the three-game slide, the Hawks shot 25.0 percent (15-of-60) on 3-pointers. Joe Johnson was 2 of 14 from beyond the arc in that span, but he made 3 of 5 on Tuesday and scored 25 points.
"I don't want to talk about 3-point shots right now," Woodson joked. "I mean, we made them tonight. But when they go in, they all look good."
Josh Smith also scored 25 points and Maurice Evans added 17 as Atlanta placed all five starters in double figures and ended a five-game road losing streak.
"We just wanted to play defense and we wanted to focus on the defensive end," Smith said. "We were giving them too many easy looks at the basket and we wanted to settle down on the defensive end and get out and run a little bit."
The Hawks have had plenty of trouble slowing down Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva this season. Villanueva scored 27 points in Milwaukee's 110-107 home win on Jan. 31, and is averaging 24.3 on 61.0 percent shooting in the three meetings in 2008-09, though the Hawks won the other two at home.
Atlanta has not won at the Bradley Center since a 120-114 victory on April 15, 2006.
Milwaukee (32-46) has lost eight of its last nine to fall out of playoff contention, allowing opponents to shoot 47.2 percent during that stretch.
"The beginning of March, we were right there in the eighth (playoff) spot," guard Charlie Bell said. "We had a nice feeling. March just fell apart on the defensive end. I think defensively, we weren't playing as hard. Offensively, we just hit a rut."
The Bucks are clearly looking toward next season after announcing Saturday that center Andrew Bogut will miss the remainder of this one with a lingering back injury. Bogut only played in 36 games this season while leading scorer Michael Redd took the floor just 33 times before tearing knee ligaments.
Richard Jefferson scored 24 points in Milwaukee's 107-102 loss to Memphis on Saturday. Bell added 23 for the Bucks, who trailed by as many as 20 points before a late rally fell short.
"A team always battles back," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "I'm kind of beyond tired of looking at that as a good thing."