The Atlanta Hawks announced today that they have signed sharpshooter Jarell Eddie of the NBA Development League’s Austin Spurs to a 10-day contract.

Sure, why not?

The Hawks had an open roster spot after sending Adreian Payne to Minnesota last month and head coach Mike Budenholzer decided to use it on a standout from his old regime’s farm system. (If you didn’t like people comparing the Hawks to San Antonio, then this news probably isn’t great news for your cause)

Undrafted in 2014, Eddie was a member of the Hawks’ training camp squad and appeared in three pre-season games with before being cut and ending up in Austin. Champion of the D-League’s Three-Point Shootout this year, Eddie averaged 11.9 points per game and shot 42.2% from the outside the arc to go along with 3.3 boards and one assist in 25.6 minutes of play.

When looking at motives for the move, you can’t blame Budenholzer for taking a flyer on a guy in the Spurs’ D-League system that has improved his outside shot since his senior year of college. Only time will tell if the player hailed as a Danny Green-like project by Spurs.com turns out to be a good pickup.

There’s a nice little nugget from Eddie in that same Spurs article where he states, “Shooting’s a premium at the NBA level. With the release that I have and the size that I have, I’ve always had the mindset the I’m an NBA player. Now, it’s clear that if you keep working in the D-League, someone will spot you.”

While other teams might’ve spotted that sweet stroke, the Hawks are the first to capitalize.

The 23-year-old Jarell Eddie will wear #3 for the Hawks, so we’ll see if the 6-7′ Virginia Tech alum can provide some of the same offensive punch that pre-ACL LouWill had for the Hawks two years ago.

In the next 10 days, the Hawks take on the Cavaliers, Sixers, Kings, Nuggets, and Suns. You’d think that the NBA-leading Hawks can find a few minutes for Eddie – and the rest of the lesser-used bench – in a few of those contests.

 

Josh Smith was an Atlanta guy.

Smith was born and raised in Atlanta. He played nine seasons within the city limits and was very active within the community during that time. On Smith’s arms, he possesses two very visible tattoos: one of the state of Georgia and another of the Hawks’ Pac-man logo.

However, on Tuesday night, Smith finally turned on the city he loved for so long.

The night started rather uneventfully for Smith. He entered the game in the first quarter to a smattering of boos mixed with some light cheers, but the reception was hardly made an impact on the decibel meter. The Atlanta faithful — who had already seen Smith in an opponent’s uniform before — seemed apathetic to Smith… for a while.

With James Harden and Dwight Howard sitting out for the Rockets, there were plenty of shots to go around for Houston’s role players. As a man used to running an offense and being a volume shooter, Smith felt perfectly in place, taking control of the ball often in his time on the court. The more Smith shot, the more involved became the crowd, as the Atlanta fans had seen Smith hijack an offense before and were hopeful that Smith could wreck the lead the Rockets possessed.

In Smith’s final years with the Hawks, the crowd had grown restless waiting for his development. As a result, Hawks’ fans often started crying out when Smith took jumpers that he continually missed on, either by loudly groaning or even by shouting “nooooo!” While it was clear Smith’s emotions were being toyed with, he often remained calm and showed little expression about the outbursts in his time with the Hawks.

But that did not happen on Tuesday night, as finally Smith took physical exception to the crowd mocking his play on the court. After sinking a 3-pointer with about two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Smith raised one finger to his mouth and sent his other hand in the air, intimating his wish for the crowd to finally hush. Continue Reading…

The Rockets were without James Harden and Dwight Howard, but were still deadly enough to nearly take out the Hawks with a barrage of shots in the first three quarters. However, the Hawks rallied behind a hot crowd in the fourth quarter and completed a 18-point comeback to win 104-96.

“Seems like we were constantly trying to dig ourselves out of a hole,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer on his players. “The last one I think we went down 15 with nine or ten minutes left in the quarter and they found a way to make one more run to get over the hump.”

The Hawks came out of the gates extremely sluggish, as Jeff Teague’s lack of attention on the opening tip led to an easy layup for the Rockets instead of the Hawks taking possession. This sloppy play persisted throughout the first quarter, punctuated by nine Atlanta turnovers, which resulted in a 31-22 Rockets lead after 12 minutes of play.

“I didn’t like our focus coming out,” said Budenholzer, who was assessed a technical foul in the first quarter.

The Rockets continued to pile on in the second quarter, with Jason Terry and Terrence Jones combining for 21 points in the period. The Hawks interior defense on Jones was non-existent and Terry kept punishing the out-of-position Hawks by nailing open 3-pointers.

“They were doing a lot of great things offensively,” said Al Horford, who scored 18 points in the game. “It kept us guessing a lot of the time. We prepared for playing against, you know, like James Harden and everything and it kind of changes how you’re going to approach the game.” Continue Reading…

When the NBA season began, national analysts were divided on the question of whether the Hawks would make the playoffs. HawksHoop.com projected the Hawks to be contenders for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Nobody predicted the Hawks would be nine games up on second place and possessors of the NBA’s best winning percentage almost three quarters of the way through the season. However, since HawksHoop predicted the Hawks’ trajectory more accurately than most, I thought I’d explain why setting the bar high seemed like a good idea.

We all know the monkey on the Hawks’ back is the failure to advance past the second round of the playoffs since moving to Atlanta. There have been chances. In 1988, the Dominique Wilkins-led Hawks beat the Celtics in Boston to go up 3-2 in the second round. The Hawks lost Games 6 & 7 by two points apiece. In 2011, the Hawks tied their second round series with the Bulls 2-2 behind 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists from Josh Smith. Smith shot 5-for-19 outside the paint over the final three games and Jamal Crawford shot 3-for-19 from the field (0-for-7 from 3-point range) in Games 5 & 6 as Chicago eliminated Atlanta.

Perhaps the team’s best chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1988 happened in 2012. The Hawks faced an aging Celtics team in the first round as it had in the second round 24 years earlier. Atlanta lost Game 2 and surrendered home court advantage, but had a chance to win it back in Game 3. Rajon Rondo failed to record a single basket or assist in Game 3 while guarded by Kirk Hinrich. Larry Drew made the brilliant decision to sit Hinrich in favor of Jannero Pargo and Willie Green in the fourth quarter and overtime. Continue Reading…

I’m gonna say it right off the bat: he doesn’t have the chance yet, but before his career is over, Mike Muscala will be known as a valuable bench weapon.

Casual NBA fans – heck, even casual Hawks fans – might not be familiar with Muscala, a big man who flirts with the chance to take the floor every now and again. The 2013 2nd round draft pick has gotten minor minutes this season; Muscala hasn’t shown anything to prove that he’s a dominant force. However, Moose is growing into player that fits this Hawks system perfectly – a big with range, athleticism, and sound fundamentals.

Coming out of Roseville, Minnesota, Mike Muscala was the 128th ranked power forward in the Class of 2009 high school recruiting class. While his scouting report praised his athleticism and solid post play, he chose to attend Bucknell University, among interest from other smaller schools such as North Dakota, Santa Clara, and South Dakota. Looking at the rest of the big men in that class, the only ones that stand out as productive NBA players are DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, and John Henson.

So what does that say about Muscala? Again and again he’s looked past the doubters and continued to improve. That started at a small D1 school in college. That continued as a 2nd round draft pick. When I spoke with Mike just before the start of the new calendar year, he told me how the chip on his shoulder doesn’t come from any of those past experiences, but instead the drive to be a contributor for his team, saying, “Now that I’m in the NBA, I’m just trying to prove that within the team, within the year, within the Hawks, I can help. At the end of the day I just want to win.” Continue Reading…

Mike Budenholzer rested Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Pero Antic for tonight’s matchup with the Miami Heat. Add that to the previously injured Thabo Sefolosha and the Hawks were missing five key players for a division game.

Yeah, like that matters…

The Hawks used solid rotations and team defense to hold the Heat to 39.5% shooting from the field (27% from deep) and cruised on to win 93-91. Wait? Cruised on? But it was only a two point game! True, but the Heat never provided a serious threat to the lead that Atlanta held for the entire game.

With the Hawks missing two key big men, Elton Brand got the start along side Paul Millsap. First possession of the game and Elton Brand already floated up a short corner jumper. As it clanked off the rim, I wondered if resting so many guys was the right call. Coach Bud would shake his head at that sentence because the Hawks used four early Miami turnovers in the first four minutes – as well as poor shooting – to gain an early cushion.

That cushion never went away.

Hassan Whiteside of the Heat proved early that he was a man amongst boys on the glass. After snatching five rebounds (three offensive) in the first three minutes of action, he went on to tally 24 boards for the game. Twenty-four! He fell three short of matching DeAndre Jordan’s NBA season-high of 27, but made up for it with a few offensive put-backs over three or even four Hawks players. Stopping that guy was nearly impossible.

Continue Reading…

Hawks Outlast the Magic

Bo Churney —  February 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

This looked like it was going to be a blowout and quite honestly, this game should have been a blowout.

The Hawks were leading 21-5 early in the first quarter and were firing on on cylinders. Paul Millsap had 11 quick points, hitting three 3-pointers in about a one minute span in the opening minutes. Everyone was passing well and flying around on defense. Even as the Magic started to pick up their own pace, the Hawks still maintained a double-digit lead into the second quarter.

And that is where the wheels nearly fell off the wagon.

The Hawks’ second quarter can best be defined as a disaster, as the Magic outscored Atlanta 29-14 over the 12-minute frame. The Hawks shot 5-for-19 from the field in the quarter and turned the ball over 11 times. 11! The Magic, to their credit, were doing a good job at forcing the sloppiness and they capitalized off of Atlanta woes by shooting 50% for the quarter, including hitting four 3-pointers.

Whatever Coach Budenholzer said at halftime worked, as the Hawks only turned the ball over one time in the third quarter as they regained control of the game. The ball movement was crisp and the team countered the 11 turnovers from the previous quarter with 11 assists in the third. Jeff Teague, who was 0-for-6 from the field in the first half, also finally got his motor running, going 4-for-4 from the field for nine points as he was finally able to capitalize on opportunities in the lane. Continue Reading…

At approximately 3:32PM, the Hawks were not scheduled to play a game on Wednesday night, according to this Shelvin Mack tweet.

Players later corroborated this story after the team did in fact play a game; Mike Scott was taking a nap and DeMarre Carroll was at the grocery store when the two were later alerted that the game was indeed on.

“They told me the game was off and I got my family and we went to the grocery store,” said Carroll, who finished with 13 points. “We thought we were going to get snowed in. Then I get a text message when I’m in aisle seven pushing the buggy and they tell me the game is on. I had to hurry up. There was a lot of chaos.”

The effect of the late notification showed early on in the game. The Hawks were sluggish out of the gate, shooting 40% in the first quarter while allowing the Mavericks to shoot 64% from the field. The arena suffered four game stoppages in the first period as well, three for clock issues and another when the roof of the arena appeared to be leaking onto the floor.

The short delay and a dunk from Kent Bazemore allowed the Hawks to regroup, as the team came out with a little more gusto to close the first quarter. By the end of the half, the Hawks — though still down by six points — were showing momentum and controlling the Mavericks on defense, even though Monta Ellis and J.J. Barea hit a couple of contested jumpers to keep Dallas ahead. Continue Reading…

It’s weird to say that the Atlanta Hawks sleepwalked their way through a double digit win, but that’s sure what it felt like during today’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks have been struggling ever since that huge win over the Warriors, and those struggles reached a head on Friday night against Toronto. Atlanta was completely thrashed by Toronto, and a lot of the same issues that led to said thrashing re-appeared in today’s win.

Atlanta started off the game not playing their typical style of constant ball movement. Constantly they allowed the ball to stick in one spot and let the Milwaukee defense set up against their offense. The Bucks have a fast, and athletic, group of wing defenders that can easily stay in front of the Hawks if they aren’t constantly moving the ball. Why Atlanta chose to let the ball stick so often throughout the game is a mystery in of itself, but the bigger question might be is do the Hawks have a problem?

A lot of the sluggishness early on can be explained away by this being a matinee game against a tough defense. Most NBA teams don’t look good in early afternoon games, and the Hawks are no exception, but throw a good defense on top of that and the basketball can get sloppy, and it can’t be stated enough that the Bucks have been a thorn in Atlanta’s side at times this season.

Of course, despite all of these complaints, the Hawks still won by double digits, and they still looked really good in the process. When the ball wasn’t sticking their offense was what fans have come accustomed to, and the defense remained top notch throughout the game. It’s not always easy to hold an opponent under 90 points, but the Hawks did that with relative ease. They might have held them to less had it not been for a scoring outburst by Milwaukee in the third quarter.

The Hawks came out of the half just as sluggish as they started the game, but this time their defense didn’t show up. The Bucks scored 29 points in the third quarter and brought the Atlanta lead all the way down to two points. After this, Atlanta stopped messing around and picked up their defense, but seeing the Hawks play so inconsistent like this was just really weird.

Even a look at the box score is a trip down the strange for Atlanta. Nobody played particularly well except for Al Horford, and even he needed 21 shots to get his 23 points. The Hawks shot a mere 40% from the field, and only connected on nine of their 30 3-point shot attempts. Korver made four of that nine, but he struggled yet again in a 4-for-11 shooting effort. Really, had the Bucks manged to knock down more than four 3-pointer, we might be talking about a much closer game.

So do the Hawks have a problem? At the moment it’s safe to say that no they don’t have a problem, but the lackluster play of late is worth concern. Today was a matinee game against a team that has given the Hawks fits before this season, and for them to struggle against the Bucks should have been expected. It’s just coincidence that it happened to come off a blowout loss to the Raptors, and a not so great finish entering the All-Star break. There’s no need to panic, or start comparing the Hawks to last year’s Pacers team, but it might be worth keeping an eye on how the Hawks finish out their February.

This Week In The Southeast, the All-Star break has come and gone and each team has reached the midway point of the season. Instead of recapping this week’s action we’ll be recapping how each team has looked for the season, how they project for the playoffs, and what trajectory they’re currently on.

Atlanta Hawks, 43-12, 1st in the East ATL

The Hawks started off the season a little slow, and a lot of us were wondering what their ceiling was, but then things started to get interesting. The offense was never a problem, but the defense started off the season struggling. This was likely due to Al Horford shaking off some rust and getting used to this season’s defensive scheme, but when it all came together oh man did it come together. The Hawks set a franchise record with 19 straight wins and some of the best basketball we’ve ever seen. They topped the NBA’s best time and time again, including a victory over the Golden State Warriors, and showed that they’re one of the top contenders in the NBA. However, they went into the All-Star break not playing like themselves, and recently were uncharacteristically blown out by the Raptors. It’s probably just boredom, or a random rough patch, but after all those wins early in the season it’s weird to see this group struggle at all.

Washington Wizards, 33-22, 5th in the East WAS

The Wizards started off the season as the best team in the East and got a lot of people jumping on to their bandwagon. John Wall was getting early season MVP consideration, Marcin Gortat was an All-Star, and that defense was just suffocating, but there was one problem that’s still showing up to this day. The Wizards started off the season with a very easy schedule, and they still can’t seem to beat a lot of the NBA’s best teams. They limped into the All-Star break falling all the way down to 5th in the East, and it feels like there’s just no chance of them catching the Hawks. Whatever Washington’s problems are they need to get it together, because the rest of the East is starting to put things together and the Wizards are looking outclassed by all of them.

Continue Reading…