Pistons at Hawks Game Preview - Apr. 18, 2012
The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from a disappointing home defeat their last time out, clinching their fifth consecutive postseason berth in the process.
They haven't lost to the Detroit Pistons on their own court in more than four years.
The playoff-bound Hawks open a season-ending five-game homestand Wednesday night seeking an eighth straight home win over the Pistons, who are coming off arguably their most dominating display of the season.
One night after losing 102-86 to lowly Toronto, Atlanta (36-25) cruised to a 109-87 road win Monday in the back end of a home-and-home set. Rookie Ivan Johnson posted a season-high 21 points while Joe Johnson scored 18 for the Hawks, who recorded 28 fast break points.
"We was better than what we played (Sunday) night, we just stepped it up more. It happens, it's the NBA where amazing happens," Ivan Johnson told the league's official website.
After concluding its road schedule 17-16 - the first time it has finished over .500 on the road since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, Atlanta closes the regular-season with five in a row at home. The Hawks host Boston, New York, the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas following this contest.
"Hopefully we can get all five of those," said Jeff Teague, who had 19 points and 10 assists Monday for his third double-double. "That would be big."
The Hawks are tied with Orlando for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference but own the tiebreaker over the Magic.
"We're right there in the thick of things," coach Larry Drew said. "As long as there's an opportunity for us to move up, we want to try to take advantage of that."
A home matchup with Detroit (23-38) could help Atlanta do just that. Since falling 94-90 on Feb. 12, 2008, the Hawks have limited the Pistons to an average of 88.9 points during their seven-game home winning streak in the series.
Atlanta has taken two of three from Detroit this season, with its only loss coming 86-85 on the road March 9. The Hawks won the most recent matchup 101-96 on April 6 behind Teague's career best-tying 24 points and season-high 11 assists.
Atlanta is 7-0 when Teague dishes out at least nine assists.
The Pistons looked like anything but one of the weaker teams in the league during a 116-77 dismantling of Cleveland on Tuesday night. Detroit shot 60.0 percent from the floor - its highest mark in more than two years - and took a whopping 100-50 lead into the fourth quarter en route to only their second win in seven games.
"Sometimes, there are just crazy nights like that," coach Lawrence Frank said. "Everything you shoot goes in. For them, everything they shoot doesn't. We've all been there."
Selected No. 8 overall in the draft, Brandon Knight scored a season-high 28 points on 11-of-12 shooting while Greg Monroe added 12 points and 13 boards for his 29th double-double.
"Even though the season is winding down, we wanted to set the tone for next year and the offseason and continue to build on that," Knight said.
Detroit had dropped eight of 10 in opposing arenas before prevailing 109-85 at NBA-worst Charlotte on Thursday.