Game Thread: Knicks @ Hawks 04/22
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Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew is worried about complacency while New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson is concerned about effort.
These playoff-bound teams hope to use this final stretch to sort out various issues starting with Sunday's matchup at Philips Arena.
Atlanta (38-25) took a major step toward gaining home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs Friday with its third straight win, 97-92 over Boston. The Hawks will open at home as the Eastern Conference's No. 5 seed as long as they hold off Orlando and finish with a better record than the Celtics, who are guaranteed the fourth seed as Atlantic Division champions.
"We're going to try and get as many advantages as we can so if having home-court is one of them, then we're going to come out and really prepare for it and try and get it," said Joe Johnson, who had 30 points.
Atlanta, however, was not happy with a victory that was tougher than expected because Boston rested key players Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
"For us, it definitely sits a little uneasy," Johnson said. "I don't feel like we brought our 'A' game."
With three games left on a five-game homestand, Drew is hoping his team can maintain a high energy level.
"We have New York coming in here on Sunday," he said. "So hopefully we can take these three games, and we're in front of our home crowd, we're done with the road in the regular season, hopefully we can take these three games and really work and focus on the things we really need to.
"I don't want to be passive at this time, I don't want to be complacent at this time, I don't want to be lethargic at this time. I want our guys to really enjoy being home and every time they step in between those lines, bring some energy, bring some smarts."
New York (33-30) clinched a playoff spot on an off day Thursday when Milwaukee fell at Indiana. The Knicks were predictably flat in their next game, Friday's 98-90 loss at Cleveland.
"There's nothing about tonight's game that I liked," Woodson said. "We just didn't compete. That's unacceptable."
The lone positive for the former Hawks coach was the return of Amare Stoudemire, back in the lineup after missing 13 games with a back injury. Stoudemire had 15 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes.
"As the game went on, I felt more and more comfortable," Stoudemire said. "I felt my rhythm coming back a lot faster. It's that muscle memory. Once you get going again, it just comes back to you. I felt great."
It's hard to say what the Knicks can accomplish over their final three games. They will likely finish seventh or eighth in the East, earning them a first-round matchup with Chicago or Miami.
"These next three games, that's all we have," Woodson said. "We're going to have to keep pushing. We won't be able to practice (Saturday) much, we've got a 1 o'clock game on Sunday."
Carmelo Anthony was held to 12 points Friday after averaging 30.5 in his previous three games.
He scored 36 in Atlanta on March 30, but the Knicks lost 100-90 to end their three-game winning streak in this series. Johnson had 28 points in that matchup after missing the first meeting this season due to injury, a 99-82 road loss Feb. 22.
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THIS DATE IN KNICKS HISTORY
April 22, 1973: Knicks roar back from a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat the Boston Celtics 117-110 (2OT) and take a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Walt Frazier leads the way with 37 points.
April 22, 1984: Bernard King scores 46 points for the second consecutive playoff game, leading the Knicks to a 120-113 victory over the Pistons at MSG and a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference First Round.
April 22, 1994: Pat Riley records his 700th career victory in 125-85 win at Milwaukee. Riley becomes the 10th coach in NBA history to reach the milestone.
April 22, 2001: Knicks open the playoffs with a 92-85 win over Toronto at Madison Square Garden. Allan Houston scores a game high 23 points.
April 22, 2011: Playoff basketball returns to the Garden after a seven-year layoff, but New York without the services of an injured Chauncey Billups (knee) and Amar‘e Stoudemire (back spasms) loses to Boston 113-96 in Game 3 of First Round, falling in a 3-0 hole.
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