The Golden State Warriors' chances of returning to the playoffs in the highly competitive Western Conference may come down to how they handle a road-heavy stretch of schedule over the next month.
After enjoying a favorable six-week span filled with home games, the Warriors begin a four-game, five-day trip Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Golden State (36-22) has played 13 of its last 16 at home, including nine of its 10 February games. It lost two of the road games in that stretch, and now plays 13 of its next 19 away from Oracle Arena.
The Warriors, who made the playoffs last season for the first time since 1993-94, are in eighth place in the West, 1 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Denver. A slip up on the road could cost them a return trip to the postseason.
"We're starting to realize we're playing for something," guard Stephen Jackson said after Sunday's 110-104 victory over Portland. "We want to get into these playoffs, and there's no question we're playing hard. We're just trying to get into position."
Golden State, which wrapped up its five-game homestand with three straight victories, has not won four in a row since a season-high six-game winning streak from Nov. 23-Dec. 2. The Warriors are also looking to avenge the only loss of the recent homestand, 117-110 to the Hawks on Feb. 22.
"We play one game at a time, but obviously every trip we go on we want to win all of them, we want to go 4-0 and we feel like we need to do that," Golden State's Al Harrington said. "That's our focus but you have to play one game at a time, so we have to take care of Atlanta first. They came in here and beat us so we owe them a little payback."
The Warriors have lost four straight to the Hawks (24-33) and two in a row at Philips Arena. Atlanta, meanwhile, has won 13 of its last 19 home games.
Baron Davis had 35 points and shot 14-of-27 in the Feb. 22 defeat to Atlanta, but has struggled with his shooting touch since. He's averaging 14.0 points on 27.6 percent from the field in his last three games after averaging 27.0 points on 51.8 percent shooting in his previous four.
Jackson had 29 points and went 6-of-11 from 3-point range Sunday. He's averaging 22.3 points in his last three contests after missing two games - including the loss to the Hawks - with a fractured left big toe.
Atlanta is ninth in the Eastern Conference, one game back of eighth-place New Jersey, and has been struggling. The Hawks lost 98-88 to Boston on Sunday and have dropped nine of 12.
Mike Bibby, acquired Feb. 16, had 14 points and nine assists against the Celtics. Brought to Atlanta to bolster the playoff push, the point guard is averaging 13.5 points and 7.3 assists in eight games for the Hawks.
"He's definitely an added dimension for that team, a veteran who can give them a boost, especially in these last 20-25 games," Boston's Paul Pierce said of Bibby.
Joe Johnson had 27 points and eight assists against the Warriors in February, but he scored just nine points on 4-of-16 shooting with three assists Sunday.
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