Suns visit Hawks as playoffs loom

NBA Basketball

A couple of nice streaks will be on the line when the Phoenix Suns visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night in a game that features two teams on the verge of the playoffs.

Phoenix (47-18) has won five straight after beating Cleveland 134-118 in overtime on Tuesday night. That victory allowed the Suns to move back into a tie with Utah for first place in the Western Conference.

“It is what it is at this point in the season trying to pile up wins,” Phoenix veteran Chris Paul said of his team, which already has clinched a playoff berth.

Atlanta (36-30), which beat Portland 123-114 on Monday, has won two in a row, but the Hawks have been victorious in their past six games on their home court. Atlanta is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and is trying to secure a spot to avoid the play-in round.

“We cannot think ahead,” Atlanta forward Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “We don’t have room for that yet, and as long as we’re winning and playing the right way, that’s it.”

Phoenix won the first meeting between the two clubs, 117-110 at home on March 30. But the Hawks have beaten the Suns six straight times in Atlanta, a streak that dates to March 24, 2014.

Atlanta has gotten healthier, and it has made a difference. Although Bogdanovic is still dealing with a balky hamstring, he is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday. The only Hawks currently out are De’Andre Hunter (right-knee soreness) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness), who have been out with long-term injuries.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan said a healthy team also means less time on the court for minute-hogs such as Trae Young and John Collins.

“You’re going to play a few less minutes, but it should mean you to go even harder, the minutes that you do get,” McMillan said. “If we do that and we have that mindset, we can really be, I think, a tougher team. And a team with a lot of depth.”

Collins said, “He is right. Every team who wants to be successful, everybody has to make some sort of sacrifice in some sort of way. I definitely feel like I’ve been doing my part.”

Unlike Atlanta, which plays five of its final six games at home, the Suns are on the road for five of their last seven.

Phoenix continues to roll behind Devin Booker, who has 32 and 31 points in his past two games. He’s scored 30-plus in five of his past six.

Booker scored 21 when the Suns beat Atlanta in their first meeting this season. Earlier this week he was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season.

Paul had 23 points and 16 assists against the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

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