By Mark Zinno

I don’t know how many people were in front of their television sets Tuesday night for the Hawks game. More importantly, I don’t know how many people were listening to Steve Holman on 92-9 The Game to hear the Hawks game. I couldn’t tell you how many of those people either listening or watching turned away to catch the start of the UGA-Kentucky game.

What I can tell you, is that for the nearly 19,000 people who were at Philips Arena Tuesday night, got the best indication of how this team will play in the post-season.

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And if you weren’t there, you couldn’t really grasp what was going on. Philips Arena had a feel to it last night like no other. It wasn’t like the game against Memphis on “Swipe Right” night. It wasn’t like the game against Golden State, when they beat the best team in the league.

Last night was an atmosphere that this season hasn’t seen at Philips Arena.

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It was very playoff like. It was urgent. It was intense. It had attitude. It made me feel like they could win tough postseason games against tough teams. It showed heart. It showed determination.  It showed team work. It didn’t remind me of last year against the Pacers … why? Because they won! They closed out the game. And that’s the most pivotal thing that you have to do in the playoffs.  You want to play in the Eastern Conference Finals? You want to play in the NBA Finals? You play like they did last night.

Here’s the one advantage the Hawks have as a team with no stars. They don’t know any better. See, stars know when and how hard to push. They also have an expectation that things will just work out their way because they always usually have. So in a game like last night, when the Hawks got down by 15 early in the 4th quarter, no one told them that they were supposed to lose the game. They didn’t know! They just kept playing because that’s all they focus on and that’s what they do well. Just keep pressing. Keep pushing.

Knowing how to come back from a deficit is important. It’s good to be able to climb out of those holes because it’s going to happen in the playoffs. They are going to start slow and the other team will shoot really well and you will find yourself down by double-digits quickly. You can’t play emotional. You can’t lose your cool. Those are the hallmarks of teams that come back in those games. The Hawks are built on that. They take on the personality of their coach, who never seems to get too excited about anything!

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I try not to put too much into any one given game during the regular season, but I left Philips Arena last night feeling better about May. Feeling better about a 7-game series with the Cavs. Feeling better about the chances of this team overall.