Maintaining Focus

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
By Jon Newberry

After a finishing a tough week 2-2 with quality wins on the road in Houston and at home against the Celtics the Hawks must refocus for this final stretch before the All-Star break. At one point this season you could have looked at this stretch of games as a easy patch in the schedule, but recent play has changed the perception of many of the opponents:

@ Oklahoma City – Won 2-of-3 in current homestand, including win over Denver.
The Thunder is in playoff position in the West and beat the Hawks in Atlanta on Jan. 18th

vs. L.A. Clippers – Have lost 4 straight, all on the road.
Playing without their top pick Blake Griffin the Clippers have struggled all season.

vs. Chicago Have won 5 straight, all on the road.
The Bulls have found their rhythm on the road and enter today on a five game winning streak.

@ Washington – Have lost 5 of their last 6 home games.
The Wizards haven’t fallen as much as predicted after the suspension of Arenas.

@ Memphis – Have won 7 of their last 8 home games.
The Grizzlies have recently beat the Lakers, Magic and Suns at home.

vs. Miami – Have lost 4 of their last 5 games.
Possible first round playoff opponent. Hawks need to make a statement after getting handled in their last meeting in Miami.

Oklahoma City and Memphis are both teams that could have been viewed as easy match-ups as the season began, but both are included in the “Most Improved” category and will require a solid effort on the road if the Hawks want to leave with a victory. Many believed Chicago’s current stretch of 9 out of 10 games on the road would be the end of head coach Vinny Del Negro’s tenure, but the Bulls have rallied to beat quality teams (Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio) and have to at least be viewed as a dangerous team when they visit this Friday.

So three home games, three road games, three teams playing well, and three teams stumbling a bit. All of the games are winnable. This is a great opportunity for Atlanta to make another statement this season.

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