The Atlanta Hawks will get a second chance to nail down the No. 5 seed. Standing in the way is a struggling San Antonio Spurs team that is fighting to cling onto the top seed in the West.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs come to town for their yearly meeting in Atlanta (7:00 p.m., SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
San Antonio was ravaged by injuries and went into an uncharacteristic tailspin, dropping six straight games over a span of almost two weeks to let the Los Angeles Lakers back into the race for the No. 1 seed in the West. But the Spurs got back Duncan this week and righted the ship against a Phoenix Suns team that is out of the playoff race.
George Hill netted 29 points and Matt Bonner added 16 in a 114-97 rout of the Suns on Sunday. Sprinkle in a loss by the Lakers and the Spurs moved 2 1/2 games ahead for the top seed in the West and hold a 1 1/2 game edge over the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the NBA.
The Spurs are facing a Hawks team that's coming off of a disappointing 114-109 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Atlanta faded late failed in its first attempt to secure the fifth seed and set up a first round playoff date with the Orlando Magic. Joe Johnson had 25 points and Josh Smith posted 21 in a game that went down to the wire. But Kirk Hinrich fouled out and Jeff Teague misfired on a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the contest as the Rockets snapped the Hawks' four-game winning streak.
The Hawks may play this one without Smith, who sat out of practice on Monday in order to rest his sore right knee.
Atlanta is going to need Smith's defense to help stop a San Antonio team that can play both inside and out. The Spurs are the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, connecting on almost 40-percent of their shots from behind the arc. They were an astounding 15-for-29 in their win over the Suns on Sunday.