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Choose your palate cleanser

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That sound you hear is the rubber meeting the road. Smell it. Enjoy it. Playoff basketball is almost here.

The Hawks have 17 games left. 11 against probable playoff teams. 4 contests with teams that hold better records. 8 wins to 50. And the Hawks currently sit all but locked in to the 3rd or 4th seed. These games are no more real deal than the other 65 that have taken place but if those were the appetizer to see what kind of main course you were going to get, these last 17 are the pallet cleanser to figure out how that main course is going to taste.

What kind of cleanser do you want? Winning? A plain and simple 12-5 run into the playoffs. Work the matchups? 8-4 or 4-8. I don't care. Just tell me what it takes to get Toronto in the first round. Health and rest? Knowing the Hawks can beat and lose to anyone all the team needs is the energy and focus to take on the playoff gauntlet. Playing well? Wins don't matter. Atlanta's die has all but been cast. Getting in a frame of mind that expects ball movement and all out effort defense is much more important. Bench minutes? The Hawks are not leaving the second round, and a few extra wins don't matter even if they are. Let's see more Teague!

These games are odd ones. Teams are tanking. Teams are resting. Teams are fighting for their playoff lives. You can go from an exhibition like atmosphere to playoff intensity in 24 hours. If the team does not have clear goals for these last 17 games, the Hawks will go through the motions and let the other team's effort dictate the results. So with that said, what should be the top priority?