The Atlanta Hawks are among the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and on the cusp of their longest winning streak in five years.
A favorable schedule is surely helping.
After gaining a share of the Southeast Division lead, the visiting Hawks go for a seventh straight win Monday night when they attempt to capitalize on another struggling opponent in the Indiana Pacers.
Atlanta (13-6) is tied with Washington for the second-best record in the conference, thanks in large part to winning six straight and eight of nine. However, that entire winning streak has come against teams that currently own losing records.
“Every NBA game is tough, but we’ve had a favorable schedule to this point,” guard Kyle Korver said. “We’ve gotten to play some teams that aren’t as high up in the standings as we’re going to play later.”
That’s not about to change this week. After visiting Indiana (7-13), the Hawks will host Philadelphia on Wednesday before opening a home-and-home set with Orlando on Friday.
They continued to take advantage of the schedule Sunday, leading by as many as 24 before finishing with a 96-84 win over Denver.
“We’re starting to figure out how to play,” center Al Horford said, “and build those habits to play the same way every night.”
Doing so again would give Atlanta its first seven-game winning streak since Nov. 7-20, 2009.
Paul Millsap is second on the team with 17.1 points per game, and he’s looking to build on his 23 points from Sunday — his highest total in nine contests. However, the forward is averaging just 9.6 while shooting 35.2 percent from the floor in five meetings with Indiana as a member of the Hawks.
They’ve won just twice in seven visits to Indiana, but weren’t in much danger in their most recent April 6. Atlanta scored 33 points in the first quarter and led by 32 at the half en route to a 107-88 victory.
The Pacers should be happy to play four of their next five at home following a winless four-game road trip. They concluded the trek Friday with a 102-101 overtime loss at Sacramento, erasing deficits of 15 and 17 points before falling on a put-back with 0.8 seconds left.
“You’ve gotta put it behind you right away,” coach Frank Vogel told the team’s official website. “We talk about moving on to the next play all the time, throughout the course of a game, and the same applies when you lose a game like that.”
David West is averaging 14.2 points in five games after missing the first 15 with a sprained ankle, including the defeat at Atlanta. The forward had team highs of 16 points and eight rebounds against the Kings, but he missed 10 of 16 from the floor including a 29-footer at the buzzer.
West scored 13 in the most recent home meeting with the Hawks, while Roy Hibbert was benched for the second half after missing all five shots to finish with no points.
The center, though, had 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the latest matchup.