The Atlanta Hawks are rested and ready to end the season on a high note.
Sitting just 3.5 games behind fourth-place Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference standings with four games left in the season, the Hawks head to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers with their full roster (aside from the season-ending injuries to Zaza Pachulia and Lou Williams), and a fighter’s chance to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nets would have to lose their last five remaining games and the Hawks would have to win out in order to supplant Brooklyn for fourth-place. They would also have to leapfrog above fifth-place Chicago, who leads Atlanta by a half game.
Devin Harris, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and DeShawn Stevenson all missed Atlanta’s game in San Antonio on Saturday, but are expected to go in Philly Wednesday.
Harris has been dealing with an ailing left foot and missed six of the last eight games, including the previous three straight. He received a PRP injection in his toe last Wednesday and hopes to be injury-free for the next month (when the shot wears off).
Horford had a sore hamstring, Korver kept quiet with a non-disclosed injury, Smith sat with a sore knee and Stevenson always sits on the second night of back-to-backs because of sore knees.
With the team’s plethora of injuries, they were carried by career-high performances from rookies Mike Scott and John Jenkins, who played for the first time since sustaining a mild concussion in Boston on March 29.
Jenkins poured in 23 points on seven-of-nine shooting, including hitting all three 3-point attempts while sinking six-of-six shots from the charity-stripe, to go with four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes of action.
Scott chipped in 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting and added six boards and two helpers.
A day before the Hawks fell short in San Antonio, they were smacked at home by the 76ers Friday night. Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes all posted double-doubles in their 11-point victory over Atlanta.
However, Philadelphia was brought down to earth Saturday night in Miami as LeBron James came back from a three-game injury stint and dropped 27 points in 29 minutes of action.
Philly lost again Tuesday night as they were beaten in Brooklyn 104-83. Reggie Evans powered the Nets with 17 points and 24 rebounds. He had 10 points and 10 boards in the first quarter alone.
So not only did the Sixers knock the Hawks down a game in the standings by winning Friday, they pushed Brooklyn up a game in the playoff race by losing Tuesday.
Screw you, 76ers!