Archives For March 2013

RECAP: Hawks 97, Magic 88

Bo Churney —  March 30, 2013

FINAL

ORL(19-55) 88 – 97 (41-33)ATL

Key Performers:
I. Johnson (ATL): 21 pts, 10 reb, 3 stl
N. Vucevic (ORL): 17 pts, 15 reb, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

With only 10 players available, the Hawks were eventually able to outwork the lesser Magic team, and capture their 41st win of the season. Ivan Johnson stepped up in place of Al Horford, who was sitting a second straight game with a stomach illness. Larry Drew credited Ivan in postgame, saying “[Ivan] brought a very high level of energy and intensity that I thought really got us going.”

Despite the ugly game, the win does give the Hawks a .500 season for the fifth consecutive season. The win was also the Hawks’ 10th straight over Orlando.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Believe it or not, Josh Smith is actually capable of having good games. He worked to get some good looks inside the paint in this one, although he was extremely wild with his passing. Credit his defense to forcing Tobias Harris into a bad night, which went well with his three blocks. And, wait for it… HE WENT 7-FOR-9 FROM THE FREE THROW LINE!8.5/10

Ivan Johnson: Watch this. It’s Ivan’s interview after the game. It is also probably the greatest thing ever. Ivan tied his career-high in points tonight with 21, and added 10 rebounds with it to give him his first 20-10 game of his career. He was originally supposed to be in the starting lineup, but coach Drew later changed the lineup to bring Ivan’s energy off the bench. The plan worked, as Ivan sparked the team when they appeared to be in dire straights in the first quarter. He also did this to poor Kyle O’Quinn. 10/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff had a bad night and he was visibly outplayed by both Devin Harris and Shelvin Mack. It wasn’t exactly the “Passive Teague” that we’ve seen in the past, it was just that Orlando did a good job of trying to keep him out of his comfort zone. He missed a few shots early, and then the Magic made an effort to cut off the passing lanes. Of course, considering that Jeff gets a lot of assists for the pick-and-roll with Al Horford, his absence didn’t exactly help. 3/10

Devin Harris: Devin was the Hawks’ fourth quarter, and was the reason Atlanta was able to pull away. He had 13 points in the final period, including two three-pointers. However, he’s still having trouble with his free throws, as his 5-for-9 performance tonight only added to his season-long woes. He’s still shooting 70% from the stripe on the season, but that’s down from his career number of 80%. 8/10

Kyle Korver: There start to come a point in this streak were I wonder how aware the team is of it. (it’s at 67 now, by the way) Kyle got his three in the second quarter, but then he didn’t play the entirety of the fourth quarter. I’m interested in what would happen if Kyle didn’t have a three in a game where the Hawks were blowing out an opponent. Would they put him in and let him get shots up? Either way, he can probably easily avoid that situation by staying out of foul trouble, which is why he was limited on minutes in this one. 5/10

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The Atlanta Hawks announced Saturday that Zaza Pachulia is out for the season after electing to have surgery on his sore right Achilles.

Pachulia will have surgery Wednesday, April 3rd, in Charlotte at Mercy Hospital, according to a release from the team.

“After thoroughly reviewing the possible options with Zaza, we all felt this was the best decision to insure Zaza’s complete recovery so that he can be at 100 percent going forward. Zaza is a professional with a strong work ethic. The Hawks will continue to be completely supportive as he tackles the return to play process,” said President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ferry.

In Pachulia’s place, the Hawks have elected to play Johan Petro and Ivan Johnson significant minutes. The fan-favorite has missed the previous 15 consecutive games.

The expected recovery time following surgery is approximately six months. Pachulia is a free agent after this season.

With Miami having already clinched the conference, the only sorting to be done in the SE Division for the rest of the year is whether Orlando or Charlotte finishes in last place.

Anyways, here’s how the team’s did this past week:

 

MIAMiami Heat, 57-15, 1st, 4-1 for the week
Well, it had to end at some point. The Heat’s 27 game win streak came to an end this week in Chicago. The team had to fall flat at some point and it came at the hand of a Bulls team missing Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The Heat proceeded to thrash the Hornets and clinch the #1 overall seed in the East.

 

ATLAtlanta Hawks, 40-33, 2nd, 2-2 for the week
The Hawks were on a road trip this whole week, and going 2-2 during it is not a bad thing at all. They’ll be looking to finish out the week strong in a game against the Magic. While regular season games aren’t perfect indicators for how a team will perform in the playoffs, it is a little disconcerting that the Hawks were unable to beat the Pacers and Celtics, who are both playoff teams. The Pacers were actually missing the majority of their starting lineup and the Hawks still lost.

  Continue Reading…

FINAL

BOS(38-34) 118 – 107 (40-33) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Teague (ATL): 17 pts, 2 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl
P. Pierce (BOS): 20 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Just one game after clinching a berth in the playoffs, the Hawks rested Al Horford (stomach virus) and Devin Harris (ankle) in a losing effort to the Boston Celtics. Atlanta traded leads with Boston for much of the first half, eventually allowing the Celtics to build a 10-point lead at the half and hold on for the home win. Boston owns the season series, 3-1, with their only loss coming from a 27-point comeback at Philips Arena in January.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: It was truly a tale of two halves for the free-shooting power forward. Smith connected on 41 percent of his shots in the first half, notching 16 points and four rebounds. In just 12 minutes after halftime, Smith missed all six shots he took and sat for the entirety of the fourth quarter with the rest of the starters.  7/10

Ivan Johnson: Poor Ivan Johnson was on the receiving end of a career game from Celtics’ big man Shavlik Randolph, who had a game-high 13 rebounds. Johnson registered five points and five boards in 21 minutes, so it was a pretty ordinary night for the forward. But his inability to play uptempo and contain Boston’s bigs made him a liability on the floor. 5/10

DeShawn Stevenson: Stevenson finished a team-worst -20 in plus/minus on the court and was ripped apart by Boston’s veteran, Paul Pierce. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague continues to surprise when matched up against some of the best defenders in the league. On a night where his teammates failed to show up, Teague took control of the Atlanta offense from the tip. His shot selection was aggressive, he gambled for smart attempts and he gave Avery Bradley fits throughout the evening. 8.5/10

Johan Petro: Not really sure what Larry Drew wants from Petro to get him more minutes. In just 12 minutes (the second fewest on the night), Petro grabbed seven boards and scored four points. 7.5/10

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Chris Barnewall and I have teamed up to bring you a series of conversations about the Hawks, the NBA, and basketball in general. The name is a reference to an old blog that Chris and I used to write for last year.

Today, we’re going to tackle and important issue that will be facing the Hawks at the end of the season. If Josh Smith leaves in free agency, should the Hawks tank in hopes of getting superior draft position for the 2014 draft class?

 

CHURNEY: Let’s be honest here: tanking sucks. Nobody wants to watch their team lose 60 games in a year (or several years), even if the ultimate goal of it is to turn the team into a contender. Sure, it’s something that can be endured, but it isn’t exactly pretty.

Of course, most teams that resort to tanking do it for two reasons: either they are a borderline .500 team at best as currently configured, or their superstar leaves the team, or gets injured for the season. (Portland, Phoenix, Charlotte, Golden State, Cleveland, and Orlando all went through one of these two)

However, what do you get when you are the Hawks and you’ve been a playoff team for six consecutive seasons? Sure, Josh Smith might leave the team after the season, but how many people would even consider him as the best player on the Hawks anymore? To me, that title belongs to Al Horford, who is signed on under a very manageable contract over the next few seasons. A few nifty maneuvers could very well make them a better team over the offseason.

Chris, as a blogger who is essentially covering two teams that are tanking (Orlando and Charlotte), just layout the positives and negatives that you have seen from tanking this season?
 

BARNEWALL: Tanking is an iffy subject with fans, general managers, coaches, everybody really, Continue Reading…

FINAL

   TOR(26-45) 88 – 107 (40-32)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 24 pts, 4 reb, 13 ast
J. Valanciunas (TOR): 19 pts, 8 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

PLAYOFFS?!? The Hawks officially clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth with this victory over the Raptors, a streak that is currently the longest active one in the Eastern Conference. After a very sub-par first half, the Hawks responded out of halftime, outscoring Toronto 63-34 after halftime. This effort was mostly seen in the fourth quarter, where the Hawks used a 16-0 run to pull away and seal the game. Both Al Horford and Jeff Teague had 10 points in the final period, and Josh Smith was able to sit the entire fourth quarter thanks to the effort of his teammates.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Some people are probably going to look way too hard into Josh not playing in the fourth quarter, but the fact is that LD stuck to what would have been his normal substitutions, and figured out that he didn’t need Josh when the team was up by 20. Otherwise, Josh didn’t have a great night, but he didn’t have a bad one either. He helped tie the game after that halftime deficit with his 10 third quarter points and he played great defense like he almost always does. 7.5/10

Al Horford: Al registered his 41st double-double on the season, which is in the top five in the NBA. He had 26 and 12 on the night, but I think the thing I was most impressed with was his passing, even though he only had one assist. He was pulling some Smoove-like passes out of the paint, and it’s a shame that the guys weren’t able to hit for him. Quietly, Josh and Al have both crept up into the top 25 in scoring. 9.5/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff was extremely aggressive, but he wasn’t exactly finishing well in the paint. However, because the Raptors had to respect his driving abilities, Jeff got great looks on his jumpers, and was able to connect on four of his six shots outside the paint, including back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter. The Teague-Horford two-man game dominated in the 2nd half, as five of Teague’s eight 2nd half assists went to Al. Of course, the Cherry on top of Jeff’s night: only one turnover. 10/10

Anthony Tolliver: Tolliver seemed relatively quiet in his 26 minutes, which isn’t to say he played badly. He scored the team’s last five points in the second quarter, which could have prevented a disaster from happening had the Hawks been down 15 at the break. However, he just seemed to be “out there” a lot, and didn’t actually contribute much else. 6/10

Kyle Korver: This game could have gotten out of hand extremely quickly if Kyle had made his shots in the first quarter. He missed his first FIVE from the field, all of which were good looks set up by his teammates. He did make three of his next four, though, including two three-pointers to extend his streak to 65 games with a three-pointer. 5.5/10

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The Atlanta Hawks have signed reserve point guard Shelvin Mack for the remainder of the season, according to a statement by Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry. Mack was signed to a 10-day contract on March 6, which was subsequently renewed on March 16. Mack will be an unrestricted free agent upon season’s end.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound former Butler Bulldog has averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 assists in 6.7 minutes-per-contest in his nine games with the Hawks. He scored a season high 10 points on Monday night against the Indiana Pacers, connecting on four of nine attempted field goals. He also contributed four assists, two rebounds, and a steal in 19 minutes of play.

Mack has been playing as the third string point guard behind Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, but with Harris out for Monday night’s game, Mack assumed regular back-up responsibilities. He played the entire fourth quarter in lieu of starter Jeff Teague.

Mack has also spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards this season. His career averages are 3.5 points per game, 2.0 assists per game, and 1.4 rebounds per game.

FINAL

IND(44-27) 100 – 94 (39-32) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Smith (ATL): 20 pts, 3 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 2 blk
R. Hibbert (IND): 17 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Coming off an important win over the Milwaukee Bucks last Sunday, Atlanta failed to capitalize on any positive momentum and fell flat against the Pacers on Monday night. It was a lethargic effort from the Hawks, who were plagued by a lack of activity from the starters apart from Josh Smith. Teague struggled from the field and failed to successfully initiate any sort of offense, and that reflected in Horford’s offensive production, as he only shot 6-15 on the night. More on player specificities later, but the energy, as I’m sure Larry Drew would like to say, was not there– the energy (cut to LD nodding vigorously)– was lacking. Obviously it isn’t easy working in the paint against Roy Hibbert, one of the league’s premier defensive centers, and defending the Gerald Green renaissance isn’t any fun either, but the Hawks failed to pick up what would have been an impressive win in an important stretch of the season.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith played the best of any Atlanta player on Monday night, and one thing that is worth mentioning, whether it’s obvious or not, is that Smoove is so much better when he’s moving towards the hoop. Any shot in which his body or his motion is carrying him in a direction closer to the rim is usually a good Josh Smith shot. That was clearly evidenced by the work he did on Paul George in the post. Smith, who is a left handed player, frequently posted George while showing an intent to attack with a left-handed hook (a shot for which he has an affinity). Instead, however, Smith backed George down, showed the ball left, and then swerved and turned his body right for a right-handed shot around the hoop. The first three times he did this the Indiana help was late and he scored rather easily. Now for his jumpers: one was at the end of the shot clock and the other was a play in which the two and the three came off screens to the top of the key. This demonstrates the issue with Smith at the three offensively in Drew’s system because it flushes him out to the perimeter where he can jack in-rhythm or out-of-rhythm jumpers. Even though his 18-footer was in-rhythm on Monday night, you knew it was a bad shot. Still– is anyone complaining about Smith? He went 7-10 from the field. 8/10

Al Horford: At this point we’re all so used to 20-10 games from Al that anything less seems disappointing. It seems as if Hibbert’s defense had an effect on Horford early, and that effect perpetuated itself throughout the game. Hibbert contested six of Horford’s 13 shots, and of those six Horford only made one. He had much more success backing down/working against Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph. The Hawks have recently used a crossing screen with a guard on one block and Horford on the other to allow Al an easy seal-and-post right next to the hoop. They ran that twice against Indiana, once with Jones setting the screen, the other time with Korver. It works. 6/10

Johan Petro: He’s usually ineffective offensively because he’s not great with setting picks/scoring off picks due to his mobility (or lack thereof). His midrange shooting is somewhere between poor and inconsistent. He can be a spatial liability at times, but on occasion his hustle and defensive activity make up for that. That wasn’t the case on Monday as he failed to establish any sort of interior defensive presence. He did, however, have 4 offensive rebounds that all required a whole bunch of tipping and tapping. 4/10

Dahntay Jones: He kicked things off for Atlanta with a three-pointer in the opening minutes, but he didn’t score the rest of the night. He only played 12 minutes, so not too much to discuss here. 3/10

Jeff Teague: The Indiana defense did an exceptional job on Teague, but he missed his fair share of open looks. His outside shot was off the mark, but all 5 of his attempted layups were challenged by Hibbert, and as we know, that generally has a distinct correlation with low field goal percentages. On the other hand, his penetration didn’t seem to open the offense up as much as it usually does. That probably has something to do with Indiana’s number one ranked defense. 4/10

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Kyle Korver has evolved himself into one the best role players in the entire league for this Atlanta Hawks team, so much so that he’s fourth on the team in minutes allocated this year. His major improvement in the recent stages of his career has come on the defensive end, which developed during his two years as a Chicago Bull under coach Tom Thibodeau. His primary skill for a basketball team is his deadliness from long-distance though, and that’s where he’s crept closer and closer to history this season.

Korver has made one or more treys in his past 63 contests, which ranks fourth since 1986. The three-point arc was instituted for the first time in the 1980 season, so there is a small gap here. the streaks ahead of Korver are:

  • Reggie Miller, 68 games (11/15/96 to 4/6/97)
  • Dennis Scott, 89 games (5/12/95 to 4/4/96)
  • Dana Barros, 89 games (12/23/94 to 1/10/96)

Korver’s streak began on the second game of this season, and he’s shot 45.8% from downtown on the year. This percentage is good for the second-highest mark he’s put up for a season in his career, and is higher than Reggie Miller’s and Dennis Scott’s best season clip. Korver’s shooting has been consistent from everywhere behind the arc as well, with no location spitting out less than a 40.5% shooting percentage. He’s been very much a go-to option on offense, there’s hardly a set where you won’t see him curling off one or two screens. 33.1% of his offense come with him running off a screen, per SynergySports. He has an impressive catch-and-fire speed that’s only matched by maybe a small handful of players around the league, and he’s only had one stretch during the season that can be remotely considered a slump. In 5 straight games that were played in just under a week in the beginning portion of March, Korver didn’t put up over a 33% shooting exhibition from downtown in any of those contests.

So, how far can this streak continue? With 12 games to go on the Hawks schedule in the regular season, so it’s safe to assume that Korver’s streak can extend to 74, Continue Reading…