Associated Press
The Atlanta Hawks headed west on their longest road trip of the season with really just one goal left to accomplish: Be at their best when the playoffs begin.
After becoming the first NBA team to reach 50 wins (a few hours ahead of Golden State) with Monday’s 130-105 rout of Sacramento, the Hawks (50-13) left Tuesday on a six-game sojourn.
They open the trip Wednesday night against theDenver Nuggets, followed by games against Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento, Golden State and Oklahoma City. There’s one back-to-back in that stretch – the Lakers on Sunday, followed by the Kings the following night – so that’s a logical point for coach Mike Budenholzer to split up some rest for his starters.
While Atlanta would love to finish with the best record in the league – it is a half-game behind the Warriors – Budenholzer has made it clear that is a very low priority, with the only tangible benefit being home-court advantage in the NBA Finals, should the Hawks make it that far.
”We don’t care about a whole bunch of victories right now,” forward DeMarre Carroll said. ”We’re worried about being better later.”
Budenholzer has been resting some of his key players, and even took the unusual step of leaving Kyle Korver at home for the last road game at Philadelphia in hopes that would help him break out of a shooting slump.
It sure paid off Monday, as Korver hit six of Atlanta’s franchise-record 20 3-pointers and sparked the Hawks to their highest-scoring game of the season.
”Getting him to a good place is important,” Budenholzer said.
That philosophy applies to his whole team, which has dominated the East and is on the verge of checking off everything on its conference wish list.
The Hawks have a 14 1/2-game lead over Washington in the Southeast and could lock up their first division title since 1994 in the next week or so. They have a sizable lead for the best record in the conference and are eight wins away from their best record ever.
Already, the Hawks reached 50 … – Click Here To Visit Article Source