ATLANTA — When the Philadelphia 76ers last appeared in the playoffs, Andre Iguodala was a wide-eyed rookie responsible for passing the ball to Allen Iverson.
Now, over a year after Iverson’s trade to Denver, Iguodala knows the Sixers will depend on him in the postseason.
Iguodala scored 30 points and Andre Miller had 23 to help the 76ers wrap up their first playoff spot in three years with a 109-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Philadelphia, which stopped the Hawks’ five-game winning streak, never trailed after Miller’s layup made tied it at 67 with 3:09 left in the third.
Combining with Iguodala for 25 points, three assists, five rebounds and one steal in the fourth quarter, Miller was satisfied with holding off the Hawks’ comeback from a 14-point deficit.
Atlanta was one of the few opponents to score 100 on the Sixers, who are now just 5-23 when allowing over 99 points. What mattered to Miller, though, was finding another way to win.
"It’s been a lot hard work," Miller said. "We played some hard teams and could’ve easily slipped to the side. We’re just playing good basketball right now. It’s one of the better moments of my career."
Joe Johnson led Atlanta, with 32 points, but fell down and lost the ball on what appeared to be a damp floor while dribbling with 1:36 remaining.
The Hawks still have the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, three games over Indiana, which won at Milwaukee.
Iguodala, who also had 10 assists, drove the length of the floor for a layup banked high off the backboard that put Philadelphia up 103-96.
The Sixers have won two straight and 21 of 28. The teams will play again Saturday in Philadelphia, where the Sixers are 13-2 in the second game of back-to-backs.
That’s not exactly the kind of scenario that Atlanta wanted before Friday’s tip-off.
"We have to come out focused and not them hit us first like they did tonight," Johnson said. "We have to come out and be the aggressor, go up to Philly and get one."
Atlanta never got closer than an 88-all tie on Josh Childress’ 8-foot runner with 6:36 remaining.
The Hawks were down 91-90 after Childress dunked in a putback at the 5:25 mark, but Miller pulled up for a 16-footer against Marvin Williams that started another Philadelphia run.
Iguodala, who hit a 3-pointer in the final second of the third to make it 77-74, came within three of his season high.
Mike Bibby had 11 assists, but he was just 1-for-11 from the field for Atlanta. Childress finished with 20 points in a reserve role.
"It’s just one of those games where we played from behind the whole night," Childress said. "They played a good game. They hit shots, got loose balls, got rebounds and hit free throws. When they’re doing all those things, it’s hard for us to get a win."
Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks will insist that his players show no tendency to relax after earning a postseason spot. He doesn’t have to look far to find motivation.
"The last time we were in this building, we were 18-30," Cheeks said. "To be where we are now is an incredible accomplishment. Our first step was to get to the playoffs. Now we have to turn that off and turn it back on tomorrow to try and get a better spot."