Archives For April 2013

So it begins.

The Hawks will start their six straight playoff run today at 1:00 PM, going up against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers.

Whereas the past few years have seen the Hawks given a decent shot to advance, this year is different; nearly all national pundits are ready to give the Pacers the series in five.

Whether or not that is an accurate prediction is something that we will find out very soon.

HawksHoop writer Buddy Grizzard detailed a gameplan the Hawks can use to advance in the playoffs. As Buddy noted, the Hawks will have to come out firing in game one and turn the tide of the series as quickly as they can.

The way to do this? Play your best lineups as much as you can.

According to NBA.com/stats, Atlanta’s most played and successful lineups feature Kyle Korver and Devin Harris. For example, the lineup of Jeff Teague, Harris, Korver, Josh Smith, and Al Horford (the lineup the Hawks have played the most this season) has an efficiency differential of nearly ten points per 100 possessions. Subbing DeShawn Stevenson for Harris results in an almost identical production.
Continue Reading…

With the series against Indiana starting at 1:00PM on Sunday, we decided to go 5-on-5 to preview the matchup, and of course, to give our predictions.

1. Which player on the Hawks is the most vital to winning this series?

Chris Barnewall: It will probably come down to Al Horford. At first I thought it might be Josh Smith, then I thought it might be Jeff Teague, but if the Hawks want any chance at beating the Pacers, Horford is going to have to be incredible. Horford will not only need to score on the best front line defense in the NBA, anchored by Roy Hibbert, but he will need to anchor the defense the way Hibbert does. Smith will have his hands full with David West shooting mid range jumpers, posting up, and attacking the basket. This will leave Horford to cover the spots that David West will spread.

Daniel Christian: Josh Smith. People love to talk about his erraticism and dub him an enigma, but the fact is he’s a relatively consistent and reliable player outside of shot selection and field goal percentage. He gives you great defense on the wing and help side every night, he creates for others in transition and in the half court, and is more often than not rebounding at a pretty high clip. Critics gloss over those facts en route to what seemingly is the bigger picture– a negligence to execute in the flow of the offense or a penchant for jacking mid-range jumpers. So long as Smith isn’t a detriment to the Hawks’ offensive movement (which he usually isn’t) and so long as he’s not killing possessions, the Hawks should be in every game. Smith can be incredible when he focuses on his strengths (i.e. scoring off cuts, drives (lefty hooks), and in transition) and is often a match-up problem for the opposing defense.

Bo Churney: Devin Harris. Being the playoffs, I believe the Hawks are going to get consistent efforts from Teague, Smith, and Horford. What the Hawks need, however, is a player that can do damage when these guys are sitting on the bench. If Devin can lead the Atlanta second unit to at least a draw against Indiana’s second unit, I really like the Hawks’ chances in this series.

Raj Prashad: Jeff Teague. Al Horford playing at a high level is almost a given. Josh Smith obviously needs to match up against David West and the tough Indiana Pacers defense. But we’ve seen thus far this year that even when Horford and Smith are tuned in, the Hawks offense can sputter if their point guard isn’t controlling the floor. Devin Harris can be sporadic at times, so Teague will need to be aggressive from the opening tip.

David Vertsberger: Jeff Teague. The Hawks offense can never stagnate in this series, and it’s primarily the point guard’s duty to keep an offense flowing. Enter a maturing Teague, who needs to be both the vocal and physical leader of this Hawks offense with one of the worst defenders of the Pacers’ starting five guarding him, George Hill.

 

2. Which player on the Pacers gives the Hawks the biggest matchup issue?

Barnewall: David West. I’m afraid of what David West is going to do to the Hawks. West is great at spreading the floor and attacking the basket. I imagine the player that will be covering West a lot will be Ivan Johnson. It’s not that Johnson isn’t a good defender; it’s that West is crafty enough on offense to really give Ivan problems. West is a player that if the Hawks can find a way to stop him, the chances of winning go up.

Christian: This is an interesting question because the Pacers’ greatest offensive strengths (front court and wing) are positions the Hawks can defend well with their starters. Obviously, without Pachulia, Hibbert becomes an incredibly difficult match up. So I’ll go with the Hibbert-Horford match up, mainly because I think Smith will be able to slow Paul George (he’s excellent at defending threes). Just another match up to consider is Jeff Teague guarding pretty much any point guard in a pick-n-roll, because that will end in either lazy defense or an attempted steal from behind as the opposition slips into the paint at will, causing a myriad of breakdowns throughout the remainder of the possession.

Churney: With Pachulia out, conventional wisdom would point to Roy Hibbert. However, looking back at the past games from this season, Al Horford absolutely destroyed Hibbert when he was matched up with him. In a pinch, I believe that Ivan Johnson’s strength could also match up with Hibbert. However, David West has absolutely killed the Hawks this season with his combination of skill and toughness, which are the sort of things that can get Josh Smith frustrated on both ends of the floor. If Larry Drew decides to put Johan Petro in the rotation, though, I would go for Hibbert. (DON’T DO IT, LARRY)

Prashad: Paul George. He’s a stifling defender who leads his team in scoring. With Horford and Smith tied up with their own match ups, Atlanta will most likely be relying on the likes of Kyle Korver and Dahntay Jones to keep the forward in check.

Vertsberger: Roy Hibbert. With Zaza Pachulia out, size is a key issue, and as capable of a defender Horford is, there’s always the possibility of getting called for a couple of early fouls and having him sent off the floor. Leaving no viable option to guard the imposing Hibbert, who after a bad start has played terrific ball later in the year. Continue Reading…

Another season comes to a close. I’d like to say this division was a thrilling race the entire season, but no, we can’t have nice things when the Magic and Bobcats are in a division. To end the season we have the Heat’s dominance, the Hawks injuries, what could have been with the Wizards, the Bobcats “fail?” at tanking, and the Magic’s success of tanking.

 

Miami Heat, 1st, 66-16, 3-0 for the week, 1st seed in the EastMIA

What a season for the Heat. The Heat came off their title season with no sight of a championship hangover, as they dominated everybody the entire season. The scary part was how the entire season the Heat have never once looked like they were giving 100% effort. There wasn’t a single game that I can think of where I said, “Yeah, they really gave a full effort out there.” Constantly, they were playing with a relaxed attitude and they were STILL blowing everybody away. I think the perfect three stats to show the Heat’s dominance this season is that they shot 55% eFG%, 58% TS%, and they had a net rating of plus-9.9. I’ll be shocked if the Heat don’t end this season with another championship.

 

Atlanta Hawks, 2nd, 44-38, 0-2 for the week, 6th seed in the EastATL

The Hawks started off the season playing better than most people expected. They were third in the East and looked like they might be able to make a little bit of noise in the Eastern Conference. Then the injuries started; the Hawks haven’t been fully healthy since the first two months of the season and that has largely weighed down on the team. The biggest losses of the season were definitely Lou Williams and Zaza Pachulia. Pachulia and Williams were such huge parts of the eight-man rotation and without them I don’t see how the Hawks can possibly get past the first round. Continue Reading…

Earlier, the Hawks posted their top ten plays for the 2012-13 season on their website. Here is the link.

I do have a criticism about this. As you can see from the number ten play, they were willing to include plays that did not count. (even though that dunk probably should have counted)

Essentially, if they are putting up things that didn’t count, where was this?

I mean… it’s Zaza making a 65-footer. How did that NOT make this list?

Here is the current schedule for the first round against the Indiana Pacers:

GAME 1: Sunday, April 21 – Hawks @ Pacers, 1:00 PM (TNT)
GAME 2: Wednesday, April 24 – Hawks @ Pacers, 7:30 PM (NBA TV)
GAME 3: Saturday, April 27 – Pacers @ Hawks, 7:00 PM (ESPN)
GAME 4: Monday, April 29 – Pacers @ Hawks, TBA (TBA)
GAME 5: Wednesday, May 1 – Hawks @ Pacers, TBA (TBA)*
GAME 6: Friday, May 3 – Pacers @ Hawks, TBA (TBA)*
GAME 7: Sunday, May 5 – Hawks @ Pacers, TBA (TBA)*
*if necessary

This page will be updated as games progress and times/networks are announced.

For more, you can check out the series page on ESPN.com

RECAP: Knicks 98, Hawks 92

Bo Churney —  April 18, 2013

FINAL

NYK(54-28) 98 – 92 (44-38)ATL

Key Performers:
I. Shumpert (NYK): 18 pts, 7 reb, 8 asts
M. Scott (ATL): 23 pts, 14 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

This was not the superstar matchup that you were looking for. This game shall forever be known as the “Mike Scott-Chris Copeland battle”, as the two rooks were the biggest beneficiaries of the starters being rested. With the loss, the Hawks finish the season at 44-38, which is the same record they had in Larry Drew’s first season with the team. Atlanta will face third-seeded Indiana in the first round of the playoffs, which starts Sunday at 1 PM on TNT.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Mike Scott: A 20-10 game in your first career start isn’t a terrible way to end the season. The only downside: when you go back and look at all of Mike’s shots, you’ll see a lot that he probably should have made. That may not sound bad to you, but he could have had 30 points tonight! 8/10

John Jenkins: Jenkins missed all six of his three point attempts, and was only able to connect on two jumpers overall. However, he had some great cuts and drives to the basket, went to the foul line a few times, and wound up as the team’s point guard for a large portion of the game. The fact that he was largely able to overcome a terrible shooting night is one of the biggest indicators of his improvement this season. 7/10

DeShawn Stevenson: I’m not even sure where to start with DeShawn’s game… I mean, he was ONE-FOR-ELEVEN from the floor. He wasn’t exactly doing a lot defensively either, as Shumpert and White both took turns making easy plays at DeShawn’s expense. Perhaps he should have rested, too. 1/10

Shelvin Mack: It appeared that Mack was the most consistent of the Hawks that played tonight, as he was the only one who played strong across all quarters. He wasn’t really flashy, but his consistent play is a big reason why the Hawks had a shot to win this game. 6/10

Ivan Johnson: Ivan was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field tonight, which raises a lot of questions: why didn’t we get Ivan Johnson heat checks? Let’s be honest… this game would have been a lot more watchable if Ivan was pulling up from 25-feet. I guess we’ll have to live with his crafty layups that he got to fall through the hoop. 7/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL

TOR(33-48) 113 – 96 (44-37)ATL    

Key Performers:
S. Mack (ATL): 11 pts, 3 reb, 5 asts
D. DeRozan (TOR): 30 pts
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Tonight’s game against the Raptors was changed to a national TV game when the game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers was cancelled. This was an opportunity for the Hawks to change the image they have among fans as a boring team. Did they succeed? Nope, not even close. The team decided to rest Al Horford, play starters minimal minutes, and had a, forgive the cliche, lack of energy on the court. The Hawks played some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen with the Raptors scoring 68 points IN THE FIRST HALF.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith only played in the 1st half and sadly that didn’t really matter. When Smith was in the game his defensive impact was minimal and his offensive impact was pedestrian. Smith had 6 points, 1 FT, and a 3 pointer. 3/10

Kyle Korver: One of the lone bright spots for the Hawks tonight was from Kyle Korver. Korver went 5/7 from the field and drained three 3 pointers. His off ball movement was great as usual and he managed to avoid being streaky. However, on defense there was a point where Korver had to cover Rudy Gay and I’m pretty sure we were all worried for Korver’s well being. Defense, still not his strong suit. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see too much of him tonight, but when we did see him, he was playing well. 7/10

Johan Petro: You could easily argue that Petro was the second best player tonight out of the starters; this is not a reflection of how “well” he played. He was able to grab a few offensive boards and got a few easy buckets, but not much else from Johan. 5/10

Devin Harris: Harris was awful tonight. Harris didn’t help the team at all when he was on the court and in some ways he hurt it. Harris was slow on defense (are you beginning to notice a theme?) and probably just as slow on offense. Harris didn’t push the pace at all and sometimes made it even slower leading to possessions where they weren’t in there sets until way late in the shot clock. He didn’t even help with his shooting going 2/8 from the field. To cap it all off, he received a flagrant foul when he hip-checked John Lucas III. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Teague probably could have been better tonight. While he didn’t hurt the team too much he didn’t greatly help them either. He was able to pass his way to 9 assists but his shooting wasn’t too stellar going 2/5 from the field. The assists are nice but it would have been nice to see him try and change the game up a little. 5/10 Continue Reading…

In this week’s recap we have the Heat finishing strong, the Hawks looking good, the Wizards brutal schedule, the Magic messing up tanking, and the Bobcats perfecting tanking.

 

Miami Heat, 1st, 63-16, 4-0 for the weekMIA

The Heat are finishing their season strong on a 5 game winning streak with a chance to finish with 66 wins. Now I don’t know about you but I never realized just how many wins the Heat have piled up this season. Could this go down as one of the quietest 60+ win teams ever despite being possibly one of the greatest teams in NBA history?

 

Atlanta Hawks, 2nd, 44-36, 2-1 for the weekATL

The Hawks have clinched themselves a playoff spot and are most likely going to finish the season at the 6 seed. At this point, the team is just trying to finish the season strong and go into the playoffs with some momentum. The Hawks didn’t look too bad this week as they took care of the Sixers easily and got a nice win against the Bucks. Could have finished the week 3-0 if not for the 2 point loss to the Spurs on Saturday. Continue Reading…

FINAL

MIL  (37-42) 104 – 109 (44-36) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Smith (ATL): 24 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl
M. Ellis (MIL): 27 pts, 8 reb, 17 ast, 5 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

With just over a week before the playoffs, Atlanta showed heart battling back from a 19-point deficit. They played collective, team basketball in the second half after a porous defensive effort over the first two quarters. In the win, Atlanta clinched at least the 6 seed in the playoffs and currently hold the 5 seed over the Chicago Bulls.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith was tuned in offensively, leading the team with 24 points, but it was his first half defense that he really struggled with. Smith couldn’t stick with Ersan Ilyasova on pick-and-pops, giving up a career-high five treys in the first half and 25 points overall. But in the second half, Smith played fantastic on both ends and showed his ability to defend any position. 8/10

Al Horford: Horford nearly had a 20-20 game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 17 boards. It helped not having Larry Sanders in the lineup as Horford really controlled the glass and the paint. 8.5/10

Kyle Korver: He pushed his 3-pointer streak to 72 games, but had a rather disappointing performance on both ends of the court. Korver had eight points and was decent defensively. 5/10

Devin Harris: Following a dreadful 0-for-7 first half performance, Harris came storming out of the half, scoring 19 in the second half and played a decent night defensively. He played off of Ish Smith for much of the night and went under screens, giving him open looks and couldn’t find Monta Ellis in transition. 6/10

Jeff Teague: You’ve gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to aggressive Jeff Teague. While he shot 10-of-15 from the field and scored 24 points, he did have five turnovers, with four of those coming in the first half. Teague did match up well with Ellis and and dominated JJ Redick up and down the court. The point guard really controlled the pace of the second half and attacked at will for the Hawks. 8/10 Continue Reading…

With the NBA Playoffs just over a week away, I went ahead and took a look at every (realistic) potential matchup the Atlanta Hawks may face in the postseason, and discussed how to go about coming away the victor, as well as giving my prediction.

 

Miami Heat (1st)MIA

Season series: Heat 4-0

3 Keys:

  • If there’s one thing you can take away from the abundance of Miami Heat highlight clips on YouTube is that they can run the fast break like no other team can. Turning the ball over against this squad is the equivalent of a death sentence, you may as well surrender two points and avoid having LeBron James fly over the top of you. This means trouble for Atlanta, who’s 22nd in the league in turnover percentage. The Heat will double the handler on every pick-and-roll, meaning point guard Jeff Teague, who’s matured a great amount since last year will need to be extra careful when controlling the offense. 
  • Miami finds themselves crushed on the boards often, ranking 26th and 24th in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage respectively. They rank 25th in total rebounding percentage, yet are still ahead of the Hawks who rank 27th in the league. It’s quite the head-scratcher considering Atlanta boasts a frontcourt of excellent rebounders in Al Horford and Josh Smith, plus their defensive rebounding percentage is 12th best in the NBA. Anyway, rebounding is Miami’s most glaring weakness and that’s where the Hawks need to take advantage. Now I’m not saying send all five guys to the offensive glass because that would be counterintuitive to the first key, so the load is basically on Smith and Horford, since Zaza Pachulia won’t be returning to the Hawks this season.
  • The Heat’s offense surrounds the skillful endeavors of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, their trio of superstars. However, a great deal of it comes from their role players nailing wide open long bombs off of a kick out from James, Wade, or Bosh. As effective and monumental as help defense is in today’s game, it must be used in a very limited fashion if you’re going to beat Miami, as all three stars are extremely proficient passers and will find the open shooter when doubled. Thus, individual defense is huge. The Hawks may not have a farm of talented one-on-one defenders, but Horford can check Bosh, Deshawn Stevenson defended Dwyane Wade in a Finals series two years ago, (which he won) and Josh Smith is athletic enough to somewhat stick with James.

Prediction: Heat 4-0

 

New York Knicks (2nd)NYK

Season series: Knicks 2-0 (one game remaining)

3 Keys:

  • The New York Knicks have been abysmal at guarding opposing point guards, When your best option is 35-year old rookie Pablo Prigioni, that’s probably what happens. What does this mean for the Hawks? It means they don’t Continue Reading…