The Atlanta Hawks head into Toronto on Wednesday with their second chance at clinching a playoff berth, if they can come out with a win.
The Hawks dropped their first opportunity on Monday in Indiana despite the Pacers playing without four starters George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Danny Granger and David West.
If Atlanta can come out with a victory tonight, they will be wrapping up their sixth straight playoff berth, and third consecutive under Larry Drew. Drew took over three years ago for former coach Mike Woodson, who is now at the helm of the New York Knicks.
Last time out against the Raptors, the Hawks squeaked out a 93-92 home victory on Jan. 30, with Al Horford scoring the game-winning basket. Horford and Josh Smith combined for 42 points and 21 rebounds that game.
Atlanta had entered the fourth quarter leading by six points but found themselves trailing 92-89 after Alan Anderson’s 3-pointer gave the Raptors the lead with 1:08 remaining. Luckily for the Atlanta, Horford steadied the ship and scored the final four points of the game to lift the Hawks to a one-point victory.
Jeff Teague missed a layup with 58 seconds left but Horford pulled down the offensive rebound and drew a foul to earn a trip to the charity-stripe. He sank both free-throw attempts to bring the Hawks within one point of tying the score.
On Toronto’s ensuing possession, good Atlanta defensed forced a bad shot from backup point guard John Lucas, which allowed Korver to control the carom, setting up a Hawks timeout with 27.8 seconds remaining.
Atlanta then executed a beautifully drawn up played by coach LD, which resulted in a wide-open layup for Horford to put the Hawks up 93-92.
Korver had taken up all the focus in the play as he inbounded the ball, ran above a double screen set up by Smith and Horford across the foul-line, curled down to the low right block, then cut back up above a Horford down pick, causing Gray to cheat out on the double, which allowed Horford to slip the screen and be left wide open under the hoop for the easiest possible game-clinching basket.
Hopefully the Hawks get the same outcome on Wednesday, but in an easier fashion.