"We're very confident," said guard Joe Johnson, who is averaging 21.8 points in the series. "We're 2-0 at home. We've been playing some pretty good basketball here. We've just got to continue that."
But those hopeful words come with a mighty big caveat: Even if Atlanta beats the Celtics in Game 6 Friday night, the series would be decided in Boston. And the Hawks haven't come close to a Beantown upset.
The Celtics romped to their third consecutive blowout at home Wednesday night, winning Game 5 110-85 and reclaiming the upper hand in a best-of-seven series that's already lasted longer than just about everyone expected.
Top-seeded Boston took care of two prime objectives by stifling Johnson, who got off only 11 shots after a 35-point effort in Game 4, and dominating the Hawks on the boards (39-28).
Atlanta couldn't find anyone to pick up the slack for its leading scorer, with the other four starters and sixth man Josh Childress combining to hit just 19 of 50 (38 percent). The Celtics, on the other hand, lit up the hoops by making nearly 54 percent of their shots, including 9 of 20 outside the 3-point arc.
The Hawks, who went 37-45 during the regular season, turned in two of their best performances the last time these teams were in Atlanta. But will they be able to muster that sort of passion tonight, knowing their reward for winning would be another trip to Boston?
"It doesn't take any edge away," Johnson insisted. "We feel like if we have three or four tries up there, we should at least be able to get one. That's what we're banking on right now."
SUPERSONICS: Kevin Durant has been honored as the NBA Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Seattle player to win the award -- and perhaps the last. Durant, the national college player of the year at Texas and the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, averaged 20.3 points per game.
- Coach P.J. Carlesimo will return next season, the team said, ending speculation he would be fired after the team won only 20 games in his first year.
NETS: Owner Bruce Ratner insisted his team is not for sale, shooting down a report that investors were being assembled to buy the franchise and move it to Newark, N.J.
RODMAN ARRESTED: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was arrested Wednesday night, accused of hitting a woman at a Century City, Calif. hotel. His manager told TMZ.com that Rodman grabbed the woman's arm.