Happy Friday! This Week in the Hawks Episode 10 is here for your listening pleasure. Bo Churney of FanBuzz joins me as we discuss the trade deadline and the moves the Hawks made: Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Scott and the reported efforts the Hawks made to try acquire Paul George and Jimmy Butler. We also talked about the Hawks’ decision to fill their two free roster spots with Lamar Patterson and Ryan Kelly, who were signed to deals on Friday too and the breaking news of Dennis Schröder’s one game suspension against the Miami Heat on Friday.

Thanks again to Bo for hopping on and thank you for listening! If you enjoyed, a share on Twitter is always appreciated.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The period after the All-Star break is one of my favorite periods of the NBA season. We know what teams are good, what teams suck and you have a frenzy of teams who are gunning for the playoffs/playoff seeding, potentially trying to implement exciting new pieces along the way. It’s this final run-in before the playoffs that I enjoy so much. Almost everyone has something to play/lose for.

And that brings me to today’s topic: how are the Atlanta Hawks looking heading into the last leg of the regular season?

The Hawks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, sitting just half a game back of the Toronto Raptors, 2.5 games behind the Washington Wizards and four games back of the Boston Celtics for the second seed.

The Hawks haven’t played particularly great over the last few weeks and have pulled out games they had no right in winning (e.g. Houston). That said, the Hawks are right there in the mix for home court advantage despite not playing too well so it makes you wonder, if they did play well, how high in the standings this team could actually finish?

Continue Reading…

PhilipsArena.com

A quick ‘before we get things started’ note: the figures that I discuss, such as average ticket price, come from official Atlanta Hawks pocket/media guides (media guides prior to 2010-11 can be found here) and these revealed (under the ‘Philips Arena’ section) what the average ticket price for each area in the arena, as such, was.

Example from the 2013-14 season Hawks media guide (the Hawks removed this information in their media guides from the 2015-16 season onwards):


On November 1st 2016, the Atlanta Hawks and the city of Atlanta announced plans to renovate Philips Arena which are expected to cost $192.5 million, with the city of Atlanta pledging $142.5 million while the Hawks would come up with the remaining $50 million.

As you can see, the Hawks have grand plans to make Philips Arena the place to be on an almost nightly basis and, if the team is any good, the arena will really draw the people in. You also have the likes of Sir Foster, who provides a one of a kind experience, as well as the Hawks’ legendary 3D court projections and these, in addition to all the other factors, may lead to more people wanting to become season ticket holders, thus increasing demand. And, as we know, when the demand for something is high it drives the price up and the Hawks are, perhaps, trying to get an early start on this process by raising ticket prices for next season.

Continue Reading…

Atlanta has suffered through several blowouts so far this season that should give pause to whether or not this team is capable of making a deep playoff run.

In every single one of those blowouts, they looked unequipped and unenthusiastic facing opponents with several shooters and playmakers. Washington, Detroit, and Utah all showed just that this year’s defense, allowing the most points per game under Coach Budenholzer’s tenure, does not seem to be imposing their will on teams as in seasons past.

The reason that may be? Those aggressive teams mentioned above have figured out the weaknesses of the Hawks’ defense, and they are well-equipped to attack it.

“We know that they are a team that likes to have their bigs play back in pick and roll coverage,” said Washington’s Bradley Beal. “So we took full advantage of it and were able to come off screens for jumpers or get in the lane and create for someone else.”

Beal’s teammate — star point guard John Wall — added on to that assessment.

“They are a type of team that closes out the paint first, then closes out on shooters, so with me and Bradley being aggressive in pick and rolls, guys just have to be ready to shoot.” said Wall. “More teams are just going to give me the shot in pick and rolls by allowing me and Gortat to play two-on-tow or take us away and let the weak side score.”

In Washington and Atlanta’s Jan. 27 meeting that the Wizards won 112-86, the box score said the Wizards posted a 42% 3-point field goal percentage, but witnessing it felt more like 52%, as many of them were taken without much contest from defenders. More alarming than some of those other blowouts was that the Hawks were fully aware stepping onto this court that they were facing a Top 10 3-point shooting squad in Washington and apparently made no adjustments from their usual scheme.

The pick and roll scheme, along with electing to pack the paint, seems works well when you face teams like the Bulls or Nets that lack floor spacers. Honestly, it was very apparent last season when Cleveland swept Atlanta for a second straight time that eventually talents trumps scheme; we see that every year during march Madness when a Cinderella run ends once they face an overwhelming gifted roster.

Some believed heading into the season that Dwight Howard could take this Hawks defense to a level that Al Horford could not. Although Howard thrives in rim protection, teams have steadily tried to force him into defending the pick and rolls more frequently, an area he may not be completely comfortable in. Combined with that, the farther Howard is away from the rim, the less of a rebounding presence he becomes. This then results in more offensive opportunities for opponents, as evidence by the Hawks’ currently ranking 26th in opponent second chance points and 23rd in opponent offensive rebounds. While many put a lot of stock in Howard’s pure rebounding numbers, replacing Horford — who excelled in reading coverages and moving his feet well enough to disrupt ballhandlers — is not a skill you can find just anywhere in this league.

The focus in this series of clips is to watch how Howard and Mike Muscala have been instructed to sag back into the paint.

Now when Budenholzer chooses to blitz the ballhandler off the pick and roll by forcing him to one side of the floor, there are only two reactions from opponents: panic or patience. Teams like Washington and Cleveland play with a certain level of patience because they have multiple sources of offense. Those secondary options can make the right pass or drift to the right spot on the backside of the defense for higher percentage looks from downtown. Utah is another team this season who has proven that with length, shooting and playmaking, this Top 5 ranked defense can look discombobulated.

While the Hawks often excel at trapping, this series shows just how vulnerable the weakside is whenever the Hawks trap one side. Not every team can take advantage of that, but Utah’s Gordon Hayward explains why some of the top teams in the league are able to do so.

“They do a good job of coming over, shifting early and shutting down rolls,” said Hayward. “We are unique because we have a lot of playmakers and taller guys so we can see over the defense, which helps make that extra skip pass.”

Hayward’s teammate and point guard George Hill echoed similar sentiments.

“You have to be fundamentally sound when you play these guys,” said George Hill. “Coach Bud is a great coach and they have a lot of great players that are active. So you have to strategically pick them apart as far as attacking the bigs getting them in two-on-one options, where we can get the ball out of the trap and try to play two-on-one on the backside.”

For the last couple seasons, it always felt as though no matter how poorly the Hawks struggled to score the ball that the defense would always be there to keep the game close. They could buckle down in any moment and jumpstart some type of offense, but not so much this season. Yes, the defense enabled them to comeback from 20-point deficits in Milwaukee and Houston, but in order to think like a champion, you must think pessimistically. In the Hawks’ case, it’s not just about blown leads and lost games, but wins too; even in victories in which they had a substantial lead, they closed out the game rather poorly from a defensive standpoint.

Playoff time is just around the corner and no considerable changes to the roster seem forthcoming. The scheme can be and has been very effective obviously, but its weaknesses could very well be the reason they won’t make it very far in this year’s postseason.

Happy Friday and happy All-Star break!

Episode 9 of This Week in the Hawks covers a whole range of lovely topics including:

  • Mike Budenholzer confirming that Paul Millsap will not be traded
  • Some Larry Sanders talk
  • The Hawks looking to add talent ahead of the trade deadline, what they need and what’s out there
  • Game recaps from the Hawks’ three game Western Conference road trip
  • And some team and player stats from the last five games

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed, perhaps consider giving this an ‘aul ReTweet and apologies again for any audio issues, still figuring out the kinks of a new setup. You know how it goes.

Sean Meagher | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Atlanta Hawks returned to winning ways with a 109-104 overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at the Moda Center. The Blazers, as they so often have been, were led by Damian Lillard’s and C.J. McCollum’s 21 and 26 points respectively. The Hawks were led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s team high 25 points while Paul Millsap added 21 points and Dennis Schröder added 22 points.

Paul “Clutch” Millsap takes the Hawks to overtime and beyond

This was not the prettiest offensive game for the Hawks but they managed to slow down the Blazers’ offense and recovered from a double digit deficit to give themselves a chance to win this game. Some great defense, after a few agonising offensive rebounds for the Blazers, by Tim Hardaway Jr. on C.J. McCollum — followed by a defensive rebound by Prince — gave the Hawks the opportunity to possibly win the game or take the game to overtime.

People give THJ a lot of stick for his defense (sometimes it’s warranted) but give him credit here.

However, Atlanta still found themselves trailing by two points with just 2.2 seconds remaining, in need of a bucket to save this game. Enter, Paul Millsap.

At. The. Buzzer.

Continue Reading…

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped the first game of their three game road trip against Sacramento Kings on Friday night, 108-107. The Kings had three players who scored 22 points: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore and DeMarcus Cousins. For the Hawks, they also had three players who scored 20 or more points in the form of Dennis Schröder (20), Paul Millsap (25) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (28).

Hawks on the other side of a 20 point comeback 

The Hawks, twice this season, have recovered from a 20 point deficit and emerge with a victory, but last night they got a taste of their own medicine. The Hawks were seemingly in full control of this game as they stood tall with a 22 point lead (71-49) with 7:02 remaining in the third. The Kings looked defeated and their star man, DeMarcus Cousins, looked a man out of sorts. The Hawks should’ve absolutely closed this game out. So, how did the Kings do it?

The Kings found a lineup that worked and just rolled with it for, pretty much, the rest of the game. It was that 4-man lineup of Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Matt Barnes, Anthony Tolliver that just got things done for the Kings. Together, they scored 43 points on 58% shooting from the field, shot 60% from behind the arc and registered a plus/minus rating of plus-10. They also registered an offensive rating of 135, a defensive rating of 102 and a net rating of +32 in 16 minutes of play.

Continue Reading…

Happy Friday! Episode 8 of This Week in the Hawks is now available for your listening pleasure, if you can call it that.

In the final push before the All-Star break, I talk about:

  • Lamar Patterson being signed to a second 10 day contract and why I’m worried for him
  • The Hawks “changing course” with Thabo Sefolosha’s rehab
  • Trade chatter
  • Game recaps from the week
  • Stats from the last five games and where the Hawks rank in relation
  • Twitter questions including Tiago Splitter, the Hawks’ position in the East and how ticket sales/arena renovations may have forced ownership to step in
  • A look ahead to the Hawks’ three game Western Conference road trip that will carry the Hawks into the All-Star break

Thanks for listening, if you have any questions for the show feel free to leave them either in a comment here or to my Twitter (@Graham_Chapple). If you enjoyed, consider perhaps sharing on Twitter or Facebook, helps get the word around.

Have a safe weekend!

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Hawks got back to winning ways on Wednesday night with a 117-106 victory against the Denver Nuggets at Philips Arena. In the absence of Emmanuel Mudiay and Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with 24 points while Nikola Jokić added 18 points and 15 rebounds. For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 23 points while Dennis Schröder added a double-double of his own, 24 points and 10 assists.

Finishing the right way

The Hawks had built a 20 point lead over the Nuggets in the third quarter but the Nuggets would comeback and make things a little interesting for the Hawks. Their fourth quarter high 12 point lead had been whittled down to just four points (105-109) with 2:56 remaining in the game and in possession of the ball. Gary Harris missed a three-pointer that would’ve cut the lead down to just one point and that’s when Paul Millsap took matters into his own (“f***ing amazing”) hands scoring on the following trip plus the foul.

Continue Reading…