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News » NBA 2008-12-27

NBA 2008-12-27

NBA 2008-12-27
Marvin Williams has heard the phrase so often the past three years that it's committed to memory.

He has even taken to saying it --- doing his best to beat Hawks coach Mike Woodson to the punch when it comes to talking about playing at Philips Arena.

"Take care of home," Williams said. "That's so true. It all starts here."

The Hawks' resurgence started here last season, when they won 25 home games.

They rode that surge into the playoffs, where they won three more in a thrilling playoff series against eventual champion Boston.

They've continued the trend this season, going 12-2 at home with a chance to add another win tonight against Chicago. It's the seventh game of an eight-game homestand in which they've lost once --- to Boston last week.

"I think realistically that if you play 41 at home and you win 30 to 35 of those, you're going to have that chance to win 50 games," Williams said. "And all the great teams are great at home."

There's no debate about that.

The Hawks have the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference. Only Boston (17-1), Cleveland (15-0) and Orlando (13-3) have won more games on their own floor.

Those are also the only three teams above the Hawks in the conference standings. The Los Angeles Lakers (15-1) are the only other team in the NBA with a home record in that stratosphere.

"The real challenge is to do both, win at home and on the road," Hawks point guard Mike Bibby said. "We used to have a saying [in Sacramento] that we wanted to win 50 games before we lost 20 games, and to do that, you know you have to be able to win anywhere. And that's what we have to be able to do now.

"We're not as good on the road right now as we should be. We had those slow starts in Texas. Those were games we could have won if we'd have started better. But that's a part of the learning process."

So is winning big at home for the Hawks, newcomers to managing the expectations that come with successful starts to a season.

Having players that have experienced this certainly helps. Bibby and his backcourt mate, Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson, have played on teams that have won 60 or more games during their careers.

They are well versed in the art of navigating the upper tier of the league standings and how crucial being an elite home team is to that end.

"It's got to start here first," Johnson said. "If you're trying to be a powerhouse team in this league, all of the good teams protect home court and have good home-court records. Then when you go on the road you have to try to steal some. But you can't have letdowns at home. You have to rise up to the challenge every night, no matter who it is you're playing.

"I mean, I look at Cleveland, see they're 15-0 at home, and that speaks volumes about what they're doing this year."

Woodson said his team is on course right now despite the 6-8 record on the road, the only thing keeping it from moving into the 20-plus-win elite.

"I think these guys know what's at stake in terms of the goals we set coming into this season," he said. "We're right on target in terms of our play and wins and losses. We weathered the storm early with all of the games on the road early, and much of that was without Josh Smith. Now we're in a perfect position to continue to move up.

"And if we stay healthy and injury-free, I don't see why we can't move up and make some noise as we move forward. But we have to take care of our business here at home first and foremost."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 27, 2008


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