The Atlanta Hawks have ended two long winning streaks this week. Now they'll try to extend a modest run of their own.Coming off two of their biggest wins of the season, the Hawks look to remain undefeated on their seven-game homestand Friday night as they face an Indiana Pacers team that may see All-Star Danny Granger return.
Atlanta (37-28) has matched Detroit as the league's only teams to end three opponents' winning streaks of seven games or more.
The Hawks snapped Utah's 12-game run with a 100-93 victory Wednesday night, two days after stopping New Orleans' seven-game winning streak with an 89-79 win. They also ended Cleveland's 11-game win streak on Dec. 13.
Atlanta, which opened its homestand with an 87-83 victory over the Pistons on Saturday night, has a chance to win four in a row for the first time since a six-game streak in December.
"This shows everybody in the world the Hawks are for real," said forward Josh Smith, who has posted three straight double-doubles. "They have to take the Hawks seriously."
Even with Marvin Williams hurt, Atlanta is building confidence and has a 1 1/2 game-lead over Miami for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The fourth-year forward, averaging 14.0 points and 6.4 rebounds, has missed two straight games with lower back pain and is out indefinitely.
The Hawks, though, have managed just fine without Williams, winning all five games he's missed this season.
Indiana (28-38) has gone 6-4 since losing Granger, who averages 25.0 points to rank sixth in the league, to a torn tendon in his right foot. The Pacers expect Granger to come back this week, either against the Hawks or at Toronto on Sunday.
Granger's return would be a huge boost for Indiana as it challenges for its first playoff berth since 2006. The Pacers are 1 1/2 games behind eighth-place Milwaukee in the East.
Indiana also has been playing without swingman Mike Dunleavy, limited to 18 games this season due to a knee injury after he averaged 19.1 points in 2007-08.
"I think we've been playing harder together," said Pacers swingman Marquis Daniels, who has been starting for Granger. "That's not a knock on Danny, but I think we've been feeling the sense we're more of an underdog with our two top scorers out and we just come in and play a lot harder."
Daniels was held to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting in the Pacers' 112-100 loss to the Jazz on Tuesday night.
Indiana shooting guard Jarrett Jack had 21 points and is averaging 23.0 in his last eight games. Because he lacks the size to match up with Atlanta's Joe Johnson, the Pacers will likely use Granger or Daniels to guard the Hawks' top scorer.
Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound off guard, is averaging 30.5 points in his last two contests. He's averaged 27.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in his last three games against Indiana.
The Hawks and Pacers each have one win in this season's series, with both games played at Indiana.