A year after recording their first winning season since 1998-99, the Hawks entered the season bent on improvement. But could they have imagined this? Ten games into the season, the Hawks (8-2) have the best record in the Eastern Conference and are just behind Phoenix for the best record in the NBA (after the Suns' victory Sunday night against Toronto). Among the Hawks' conquests are road wins at Boston, Portland and Sacramento and a home win over Denver.
The start marks the team's best record after 10 games since 1997-98, when it began 11-0.
"I think we can do something special," said forward Joe Smith, the 14-year veteran who has contributed key minutes off the bench. "We have to continue to get better as a group and continue to understand where we can go. The sky's pretty much the limit for us if we believe in each other and believe in what we bring to the table."
Tonight's game against Portland will offer another insight into how much the Hawks have improved since last season, when they went 47-35 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Both teams will play on a day's rest and the Blazers will come to Philips Arena with a score to settle; the Hawks beat last season's Northwest Division co-champions 97-91 in Portland earlier this month.
In the midst of a four-game homestand, the Hawks follow up with a Wednesday visit from the Miami Heat, who are a half-game behind the Hawks in the Southeast at 7-2.
"It's not the team that it was three, four years ago," coach Mike Woodson said after Saturday's 121-98 demolition of New Orleans. "It's not. We're a deeper team and we've got guys that have been together and they're growing up."
Next for Hawks
Who: vs. Trail Blazers
When: 7 p.m. today
TV; radio: FSSO; 790
Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!