Atlanta Hawks now have to meet high expectations

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Now the question becomes whether anyone can stop the Atlanta Hawks.

They've proven they can beat anyone in the league, anywhere, and they aren't a fluke. In fact, only the Golden State Warriors have a better record. Now, the Hawks have to live up to the expectations.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have folded under those expectations. The last time the Hawks had many, they had Dominique Wilkins on their roster.

Now, after winning 10 in a row and losing just two games since Thanksgiving, it's hard to ignore them.

Over a four-day span starting with Friday's game at Toronto against the 26-12 Raptors, they'll be tested again. On Saturday, they play at the Chicago Bulls and then on Monday they host the red-hot Detroit Pistons, who have won eight of their past 10.

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Will they keep winning?

With a team on a run like the Hawks, you might think that they are in danger of wasting all of their effort now and flaming out before the playoffs. But they are clearly taking that into account, resting starters where they can and making sure the team stays fresh. They've had minor injuries, but nothing major.

But now they have takent to resting starters in games that it appears they can win, like Wednesday's 105-91 win over Boston when starters Al Horford and Kyle Korver sat despite being healthy.

You have to give credit to the bench,” DeMarre Carroll told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That shows you the beauty of our team. We’ve got a lot of guys who can play. That is what we expect. These guys work just as hard and when their opportunity came they took advantage of it.”

Despite that, they've won 10 in a row, which is the longest streak for the team since they won 11 in a row to start 1997-98, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They've also won 10 in a row on the road, a franchise record according to the paper.

Who beat them?

Despite playing essentially the best teams in the league over the past month, the Hawks' two losses since November look … odd.

One came on Dec. 26 against the Milwaukee Bucks, part of an odd home and home back-to-back meetings between the two teams. It was ugly in Atlanta, 107-77, but the Hawks came back to win 90-85 in Milwaukee on Dec. 27.

The other loss was in an eerily similar situation, a 100-99 loss at Orlando on Dec. 13, the night after the Magic came to Atlanta and lost 87-81. The last time they had lost on the road before that was a 122-119 OT loss at Charlotte on Nov. 6.

Toronto Raptors
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Atlanta Hawks
Southeast Division

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