HAWKSVILLE - The last time the Hawks lost a home game it was at the hands of LeBron James.
The last time King James and his crew lost a home game was before the All-Star Break (Feb. 8 to the Lakers and the Cavs’ only home loss of the season).
The Hawks have won seven straight games.
The Cavs have won seven straight as well (and they are an outlandish 31-1 at home).
Something and somebody has to give Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena when the two teams square off in a rematch of a March 1 game at Philips Arena the King won 88-87 with a last second free throw.
It’s too bad the NCAA Tournament will keep most folks from tuning in to see the two hottest teams in the NBA and the Eastern Conference go at it.
Both teams are fighting for playoff position, the Hawks for home court in the first round and the Cavs for home court throughout the entire playoffs.
It’s a perfect storm for hoops lovers, particularly those that love to dive into the NBA’s version of March Madness. The brackets for the NBA’s tournament can’t be filled out just yet. There are too many variables still in play. But it’s clear right now that the Hawks won’t go into the final weeks on the playoff bubble.
If they did nothing else on this recent homestand, they stamped their ticket to the postseason.
In addition, they rebounded from a potentially devastating few days of internal turmoil between Mike Woodson and Josh Smith to show that winning truly does cure all.
Pounding out wins against teams like Detroit, New Orleans, Utah, Portland and Dallas (all likely playoff bound teams) sent a strong message to the rest of the league.
Not getting popped against Indiana and Sacramento, however, sent an even louder message to me. Because it proved that maybe now, I said maybe, the Hawks are free from the mental letdowns against lesser teams that has shadowed them the past two years.
“They’ve got this thing rolling right now man,” an advance scout for an Eastern Conference powerhouse said to me as the Dallas game ended and we were walking away from the court. “If you’ve got to come in here and deal with this team in the playoffs it’s going to be tough. Now I see what Boston had to deal with last year.”
Since that playoff series with the Celtics, the Hawks are a jaw-dropping 30-7 on their home floor.
So it’s clear the Hawks are going to formidable on their home floor no matter the opponent.
The challenge now is to prove they can get it done away from home.
And that’s why Saturday’s game looms so large.
What team doesn’t want to join the Lakers as the only teams to go into the castle to defeat the King?
But if the Hawks are in the business of staring down their demons the way we think they are, winning a few more games on the road would certainly do the trick.
They’ve already surpassed last season’s road win total of 12 (they are 14-21). Inch closer to .500 on the road, though, and home court advantage and that magical 50-win season both come into clearer focus between now and April 15.