(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks had their best regular season in franchise history and will now try to make their way through the Eastern Conference, starting Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena.
Atlanta cruised to the top seed in the East with a franchise-best 60 wins in the 82-game schedule, breaking the previous record of 57 victories set in the 1993-94 campaign, and captured a division title for the time since '93-94.
"We feel like we can really do something," Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap said. "It's up to us going out there and proving it."
The Southeast champions clinched a spot in the postseason for an eighth straight season, but haven't made it out of the first round in each of the past three tries. The Hawks were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in seven games last season.
Atlanta ripped off 19 straight wins at one point this season and went 17-0 in January. It was 25-16 on the road, setting a franchise mark in wins as the guest, and went 35-6 at Philips Arena.
Four of Atlanta's starters -- Al Horford, Millsap, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver -- went to the All-Star Game.
The Hawks were 38-14 in conference action and didn't need the final day to determine their playoff status like the Nets. The Nets punched their ticket to the postseason when they defeated Orlando on Wednesday, coupled with an Indiana Pacers loss at Memphis.
"They're the second-best team in the NBA, record-wise. They've shot the ball extremely well all year. When they lose they don't shoot the ball well," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said of the Hawks. "We've got to figure out how to make them shoot the ball a little bit less than what they normally do and control the glass and score."
The Nets have made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and reached the semis last spring, defeating Toronto in seven games in the quarterfinals before losing to Miami in five games the next round.
Brooklyn finished 21st in scoring at 98.0 ppg and allowed 100.9 ppg, which was 18th.
Hollins made some interesting choices midway through the season, bringing former All-Stars Brook Lopez and Deron Williams off the bench. The Nets sent future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett back to Minnesota at the deadline and brought back Thaddeus Young, a versatile forward.
Lopez emerged in the second half, winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors two of the final three weeks of the season. Williams, meanwhile, has averaged 19.8 points, 8.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 63 career playoff games.
Brooklyn went 0-4 against Atlanta in the regular season, while the Hawks averaged 114 points in those games and won by an average of 17.3 ppg. The Hawks and Nets have never met in the playoffs.