When the Hawks play back-to-back games with Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first decade of the 2000s will be over for the Hawks.
It has not been the most fruitful of decades. Entering Saturday's game at Indiana, the Hawks were 311-508 for the 2000s. However, the decade ends well, with the Hawks having gone to the playoffs twice in a row, with a third consecutive berth likely in 2010.
The team's recent success colors Hawks broadcaster Steve Holman's all-decade team. Holman, who has called every Hawks game since March 1989, named four current players among the decade's five best Hawks.
• Shareef Abdur-Rahim, forward, 2001-04. "He was able to endure a lot of stuff that happened here, and he was able to make an All-Star team. ... He had health and knee problems. He was always sore, but he carried the team as best he could."
• Mike Bibby, guard, February 2008-present. "The only reason I put Bibby over ‘J.T.' [Jason Terry] is because [Bibby] helped us make the playoffs. ... He's like the general on the floor. It's a cliché, but he's like a coach on the floor."
• Al Horford, center, 2007-present. "He's so solid every night, and you know exactly what you're going to get. I think, as young as he is, I think he's kind of become a leader of the team."
• Joe Johnson, guard, 2005-present. "He does what he does, and he can get 40-point nights just as easily as anybody in the league right now. When he's out there, you go to him. I always say on the air, ‘When in doubt, go to Joe.' "
• Josh Smith, forward, 2004-present. "He's like Dominique [Wilkins] used to be. Josh has got kind of an ‘it' factor. People will come to the game and when they leave, they'll say, ‘Did you see what he did?' "
Happy New Year?
January will be far tougher for the Hawks than December was. Including Saturday's game against Indiana, the Hawks played nine of their first 12 games of the month against teams under .500. The Hawks were 8-3 in December before Saturday.
However, starting with the back-to-back games against Cleveland and continuing through the end of January, the Hawks will play 11 of their next 17 games against teams that were above .500 entering Saturday. Seven will be on the road. Also, seven will be against the Eastern Conference's "big three" of Cleveland, Boston and Orlando.
Ho, ho, ho
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy on the NBA's five Christmas Day games, according to the Orlando Sentinel: "I think we get a little carried away with ourselves in sports thinking we’re a lot more important than anything else. But that’s the way it is. There’s nothing more important than the NBA. It has to be the focal point of your Christmas Day. Not me. I won’t watch one second of the other games today. I have no interest whatsoever."
Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that Orlando lost 86-77 to Boston on Christmas.