Eyeing Postseason, Hawks grab key wins

After looking like they were on the verge of missing the playoffs a week ago, the Atlanta Hawks put together back-to-back victories against the cream of the crop in the Eastern conference.

On Thursday, Atlanta defeated No.2 seed Boston 123-116 at home and a day later took a depleted squad into Cleveland and came away with a decisive 114-100 victory over the Cavaliers.


Against the Celtics, rookie guard Taurean Prince had his coming out party by scoring 18 of his career-high 20 points in the first half to help the Hawks build a insurmountable lead. All-Star Paul Millsap, who had been bothered by a sore knee coming into the contest, carried the load off the bench in the second half on his way to a team-high 26 points and 12 rebounds. Hawks swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. also had an impactful game with 23 points and point guard Dennis Schroder followed up with 18 points. Despite the loss, Boston All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas poured in a game-high 35 points.

The following night at Cleveland, the Hawks rested top players Dwight Howard, Millsap, and Schroder. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the Hawks didn’t rest Hardaway Jr. who scored 15 of his game-high 22 points (4/6 from downtown) in the fourth quarter to help his team hang on for the road victory. Veteran long-range shooter Mike Dunleavy also found his stroke with four 3’s on his way to a 20-point scoring effort. LeBron James led all scorers with a game-high 27 points.

The consecutive victories marked the Hawks (41-38) fourth win in the last 10 games, and put them a game ahead of Milwaukee (40-39) for the fifth seed in the East with only three regular season games remaining. The Hawks are not out of the water just yet as only three games separate them from postseason competition or an early summer vacation.

The Hawks will wrap up the regular season with consecutive home games against the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland once more, before closing the season with a highly anticapted showdown with the Indiana Pacers with possible playoffs implications on the line.

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