The last time the Atlanta Hawks visited Houston, they snapped a 10-game losing streak there. The team hopes to continue its winning ways there when they take on the Houston Rockets in the NCAA Final Four city on Sunday.
Al Horford, Josh Smith and the Hawks face off against a red-hot Rockets team making its own playoff push when they tipoff at the Honda Center on Sunday night (7:00 p.m., SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
The Hawks are playing better basketball of late, reeling off four straight wins, including impressive victories against the playoff-bound Orlando Magic and Boston Celitcs. The victories make it increasingly likely that Atlanta will end up with the No. 5 seed in the East and a likely playoff date with the Magic in the opening round.
The Rockets on the other hand need as much help as they can get in order to make it to the big dance.
Houston is in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year and is currently three games behind the New Orleans Hornets for the final spot in the West. Nevertheless, Kevin Martin and the Rockets continue to plug away in an attempt to erase the deficit.
The Rockets won for the seventh time in nine games on Friday, defeating a struggling San Antonio Spurs team 119-114 in overtime. Houston overcame an 11-point third quarter deficit in that one to pull off the modest upset.
Atlanta is coming off of a similarly impressive win -- an 88-83 victory against the reigning NBA Eastern Conference champion Celtics.
On a night where Joe Johnson and Smith were struggling, Horford came up huge, recording his 35th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Reserves Jamal Crawford and Zaza Pachulia also played well in that one. Crawford had his perimeter game going, recording a team-high 20 points in the win, while Pachulia provided much-needed energy off of the bench and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Atlanta has been successful of late because they've shared the basketball and attacked the post. If they can do the same on Sunday night, the team could halt Houston's six game home winning streak.
The Hawks would love to return the favor against a Rockets team that halted Atlanta's 10-game home winning streak with a 112-106 win on Jan. 15. But in order to do so they must contain Luis Scola, who had 20 points the last time these two teams met.