Archives For January 2014

FINAL

BKN.gif(16-22) 91 – 86 (20-19)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Johnson (BKN): 29 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast
S. Mack (ATL): 17 pts, 2 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Joe Johnson burned his old team in this one. Johnson had 26 points in the 1st half on 10-for-13 (76%) shooting. He then followed that up by making one shot the entire second half to give himself 29 points for the game. The Hawks didn’t play the worst defense in the world. It wasn’t good, but we’ve seen worse. The Nets were just making a stupid amount of shots. They shot 59% from three for goodness sakes! The Hawks are okay by forcing a team to shoot mid-range jump shots, but when that happens, the opponent doesn’t usually go and shoot 60% from mid range.

The offense was really hard to judge because the Hawks were constantly losing. At first the Hawks were trying to get to the rim as much as possible, after they went down they changed up their offense a little to work more on the perimeter and get some three-point shots. Both of these were decently effective, but it wasn’t effective enough to keep them in the game when the Nets were hitting everything they took.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: Millsap’s had better days. Without Horford a lot of the focus has now been shifted on Millsap. While he’s been able to step up, we’re going to get some stinkers every once in awhile. Today was one of those games with a 5-for-13 performance from the field. Millsap could never get anything going on offense. 5/10

Pero Antic: Antic continued his recent string of solid play. Antic is still a rotation player starting in place of an injured star, but he’s had some great moments. His rotations today at the rim were causing the Nets some difficulties and on another day we might have been talking about how his at rim defense was a game-changer. 7/10

Jeff Teague: Oh Teague… you really miss your favorite pick-and-roll partner don’t you? Teague went 4-for-13 from the field and couldn’t get any flow going in the offense. He was able to find other methods of offense, getting to the line four times and going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. 4/10

Kyle Korver: The streak lives on. Sadly Korver had to gun at the end to get it. He had a highlight block. That’s about all the good things he did.2/10 Continue Reading…

Tank? No Thanks

Cole Patty —  January 14, 2014

After the Al Horford injury, there was much speculation on what the Atlanta Hawks should do with this season. Nine game without Al and these questions still persist. The solution the front office appears to have come up with is to stay the course, but many of the team’s followers wonder if that decision is sound. The luxury of a top pick is tempting, and many see the postseason lost without Al Horford.

While some seasons this is sound logic, the 2014 Eastern Conference is a very different beast. With only four teams over .500, and every non-playoff team bolstering a record below the .400 mark, it’s going to be more competitive to land in the bottom seven than the top eight. Even without Horford, Atlanta has a projected 3.2% chance to miss the playoffs by ESPN’s Hollinger’s Playoff Odds. That’s only to miss the playoffs; even if that was actually achieved, there is a strong chance the pick would still be in the double-digits with Western teams struggling such as the Lakers, Kings, and Jazz.

That’s not the only way to chop up the extremely low odds for Atlanta either. The team has 14 games left against the more difficult Western conference, while having 30 games against the East. At the current projections, the Hawks would only need to finish with thirty-three wins — assuming that Detroit, Boston, or Charlotte wouldn’t be specifically be influenced by Atlanta underachieving — to get the eighth seed.  Five games are against Indiana and Miami, but they also still have three games against Milwaukee, another western game against the Jazz, two more against Philadelphia, and one more against Orlando. The chances that this team could find a way to only win 12 of their last 44 games — and lose the tiebreaker against Detroit — are low, and that is just to get a draft pick around 10. Continue Reading…

FINAL

MEM.gif(17-19) 108 – 101 (20-18)ATL

Key Performers:
M. Conley (MEM): 21 pts, 4 reb, 13 ast, 4 stl
P. Millsap (ATL): 21 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks were without Pero Antic (back spasms), but that wasn’t necessarily their biggest issue; if the Hawks keep relying on Mike Scott to keep trying to save the team after slow starts in the first quarter, they are going to have a bad time. The Grizzlies got out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter and really held that kind of advantage for the entire game. The Hawks had the lead a couple of times, but for the most part it was always Grizzlies by single-digits. Mike Conley torched the Hawks on both ends of the floor and really outplayed Jeff Teague; Conley was a game-high plus-20 in a contest that was decided by seven points.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: The value of plus-minus can be seen with Conley’s rating above. The downside? Millsap played a good game… but was a minus-17. All that really means is that Paul was in and out of the game at inconvenient times. (like in for the 9-2 Memphis start, out for the Hawks’ run with Mike Scott in the game) Paul hit one three on the night, but it was late in the game when the Grizzlies had a big enough lead that the Hawks had to keep playing the foul game. 7.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: The Hawks probably could have used Carroll on Conley a lot more. Courtney Lee and a 33 year old Tayshaun Prince concern me a lot less than Conley, who has been playing great lately. Offensively, Carroll was efficient by scoring 15 points on nine shots and no turnovers. Since I usually harp on his transition game, he did fine in that aspect. 8.5/10

Gustavo Ayon: Gustavo did some work on the boards (seven in just 14 minutes), but I’m sort of perplexed as to why you start Gustavo over Elton Brand with the way Elton has been playing lately. Sure, Elton still got his minutes, but since the team keeps getting off to bad starts, they might want to consider starting off games with their defensive anchor and a more capable offensive player in the lineup. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Mike Conley is a very good defender, meaning he gave Teague some fits without Horford there to act as Teague’s security blanket. He started off kind of slow in the first half and he blossomed a bit in the second half… as did Mike Conley, only Conley’s transformation was on a bigger scale. Conley had 12 points, eight assists, and three steals in the second half and Teague and co. simply could not keep up with that kind of production. In the end though, a 1:1 assist:turnover ratio (five assists, five TOs) isn’t going to cut it from your starting point guard. 5.5/10

Kyle Korver: It took until the third quarter for Kyle to extend his three-point streak to 107 games, but he did get it done. Memphis paid a lot of attention to keeping Kyle off of the three-point line, meaning he got a mix of two-pointers and passing opportunities that he was able to convert into five assists. Of course, Kyle’s passing has been a bit more on display this season, and his three dimes per game are a career high. 7/10 Continue Reading…

In this week’s recap, the Heat are on a losing streak!? Is this Miami slump just a bump in the road or is there more to it? The Hawks just knocked off the Rockets and despite missing Al Horford seem to be chugging along. Pero Antic is breaking out as a legitimate rotation player and we say goodbye to Cartier Martin. The Wizards can’t seem to get themselves over .500 and just got stomped by the Pacers. The Bobcats are entering a free fall, it might be the injuries but I think it’s effort. The Magic…they are awful.

Miami Heat, 1st, 27-10, 2nd in the East, 1-2 during weekMIA

After smacking around New Orleans and Toronto it looked like Miami was going to continue on their war path by putting a beat down on the dysfunctional and struggling Knicks. The game was on national TV and was the perfect stage for Miami to obliterate somebody. Then, as if it was a perfect storm, the Knicks played probably their best basketball for the entire season and had possibly a season changing win over the Heat. The next night on a back to back Miami traveled across New York over to Brooklyn to take on the also struggling Nets. The Heat lost that one in double overtime. The Heat had Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, and Dwyane Wade all resting and didn’t look incredibly concerned with winning. The game was bizarre in that we saw a rare moment where LeBron James lost his composure. After a foul on a fastbreak LeBron went nuts and tried to get in the face of the player who fouled him. I’ve never seen that before. I don’t think it means much in the grand scheme of the season but it was still a rare sight.

Atlanta Hawks, 2nd, 20-17, 3rd in the East, 2-1 during weekATL

The Hawks did exactly what we expected them to do after they lost Al Horford. They went on a losing streak and looked nothing like the above average team that could compete with anybody in the league on any given night. Then they had a HUGE victory over the number one team in the East, the Indiana Pacers. Two days later Dwight Howard and Houston came to town and the Rockets couldn’t establish anything. The Hawks delivered Dwight Howard his sixth straight loss in Philips Arena and the Hawks were back to playing at their old level of play. Had the Hawks beaten the Pacers on a random night, I would have put that towards a fluke, but beating the Rockets the way they did means the Hawks may have found a way to sustain without Horford. The team is better with Horford, but players are stepping up without him, more specifically Pero Antic is. Early in the season I wasn’t sure if Antic was an NBA player, let alone a rotation player. He has shown through this Horford-less stretch that he has the ability to definitely be a eighth or ninth man rotation player in this league. We also say goodbye to Cartier Martin this week. Martin was waived from the team before his contract became guaranteed, while slightly surprising, this wasn’t entirely shocking. Continue Reading…

Hawks Sign James Nunnally

Bo Churney —  January 12, 2014

From the Atlanta Hawks’ press release:

“The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward James Nunnally to a 10-day contract, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry.

In 19 starts with the Bakersfield Jam this season, Nunnally has averaged 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 33.6 minutes (.448 FG%, .415 3FG%, .853 FT%). Following this week’s NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, NV, he was named to the All-Showcase first team by NBA scouts and basketball operations personnel.

Undrafted in 2012 out of UC Santa Barbara, he also played with the Jam last season, appearing in 49 contests (eight starts) and averaging 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.7 minutes (.430 FG%, .406 3FG%, .884 FT%). Nunnally was with the Phoenix Suns in training camp in 2013, and saw action in three preseason games.”

Nunnally fills Cartier Martin’s spot, as Cartier was waived the other day by the team. Nunnally should provide the team with some size at wing off of the bench, which is something the team has had a problem with the last two seasons.

RECAP: Hawks 83, Rockets 80

Bo Churney —  January 10, 2014

FINAL

HOU.gif(23-14) 83 – 80 (20-17)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 20 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl
J. Harden (HOU): 25 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Rockets jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter, but Mike Scott responded with eight first quarter points to keep the Hawks within a reasonable distance. The Hawks then won the next two quarters 55-42 to take a 65-60 lead into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, the Hawks used a DeMarre Carroll three-pointer to take a 79-78 advantage that they would not relinquish as four free throws from Kyle Korver iced the game in favor of the Hawks. The win gives the Hawks 20 on the season as they improved to 14-5 in Philips Arena.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: After four very rough games for Millsap, he was able to respond against Houston. His jumper was still a little off, but he did get a couple of three-pointers to fall. His four offensive rebounds were very important, as that was one of the keys that pushed the Hawks to victory despite a 37.2% shooting night from team. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre’s night kind of reminded me of Pero’s game against Charlotte. He was doing the little things throughout the game, but he could not hit a shot to save his life. Finally, with the Hawks trailing 78-76, he got a three to fall. 6/10

Pero Antic: Not a very good night for Pero, who finish with four points on eight shots. On defense, he wasn’t doing completely terrible, but Dwight was simply too physical for Pero on some possessions. The result was Pero getting into foul trouble and a minutes increase for Elton Brand. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was outplayed by both Lou-Will and Shelvin tonight. Dwight Howard’s defense probably gave Jeff the most difficulties of any ATL player, as Jeff just couldn’t do what he wanted in the lane. Outside of the lane, Jeff was consistently short on his jumper, which is very reminiscent of how he was shooting the ball at the beginning of the season. 4/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle Korver has been the team’s top performer in consecutive wins against Indiana and Houston. Korver was 6-for-11 from the field and his three three-pointers in the third quarter were huge for the Hawks being able to take the lead. Korver also played very strong defense in the second half, as his digs and activity caused problems for Houston’s big and their guards. 9/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 97, Pacers 87

Bo Churney —  January 8, 2014

FINAL

   IND.gif(28-7) 87 – 97 (19-17)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 17 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast
P. George (IND): 28 pts, 12 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Sure, Indiana was on the second game of a back-to-back. Yes, Lance Stephenson didn’t play due to a right knee contusion. However, the Hawks — sans Horford — still looked pretty damn great against one of the best teams in the league. The Hawks opened the game on a 12-0 run, which included eight points from Pero Antic, and never looked back in the wire-to-wire victory. Antic and Elton Brand made Roy Hibbert an absolute non-factor, and DeMarre Carroll kept Paul George under wraps until the latter part of the second half. Every Hawk that entered the game scored at least five points and had at least one dime. Overall, it was a great team effort for the Hawks in a somewhat dominating victory.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: Rough night shooting for Paul, who shot 1-for-10 from the floor. He contributed in other areas though, putting up five assists against zero turnovers and generally playing good defense on David West. Millsap has shot 13-for-54 (24%) in his last four games, so hopefully this 1-for-10 is a bottoming-out and he can return to his normal shooting percentages soon. 5.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Between Robby Kalland and I sitting on media row, we had at least 10 instances of us saying to each other, “Why is DeMarre dribbling?” It got so bad at one point that Coach Bud even called a timeout as soon as DeMarre tried dribbling against Paul George’s press defense. All of that aside, DeMarre had a great game, scoring well in transitioning, jumping the passing lanes correctly, and playing strong defense on Paul George, who took 25 shots to get his 28 points. Coach said of DeMarre, “On an individual basis, [DeMarre] really set the tone for us with his defense and activity.” 9/10

Pero Antic: As the Hawks official Twitter account tweeted earlier, is this the start of the Pero Antic “Rookie of the Month” campaign? Pero poured in another 16 points tonight, and his defense on Hibbert was especially strong. Pero also led the team with a plus-20 rating. 8.5/10

Jeff Teague: Sidenote on the “Why is DeMarre dribbling?” mention earlier: Jeff needs to have better awareness on going and getting the ball from his teammates when they are in a bit of trouble. Other than that, just an OK night from Jeff, who took a shot to head at the end of the game. Jeff said he was fine afterwards in the locker room, saying that he got hit on the cheek, which should relieve fans of possible concussion fears. 6.5/10

Kyle Korver: Korver extended his streak to 105 games, which he did on a four-point play in the third quarter. The Hawks rode Korver’s hot hand on the second half, as Kyle scored 15 points on just six shots in those 24 minutes of play. 8.5/10 Continue Reading…

Hawks Waive Cartier Martin

Bo Churney —  January 7, 2014

In a somewhat surprising move, the Hawks announced today that they have waived G/F Cartier Martin.

Martin was signed by the Hawks on Oct. 15 and appeared in 25 games (two starts), averaging 6.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in 17.5 minutes. He shot over 40% from three and had a TS% over 56.4%.

Atlanta’s roster now stands at 14. This will give them some flexibility with roster movement going forward.

And, of course, the world has been freed of my “CARTI-YAY!” tweets… for now.

FINAL

BKN.gif(13-21) 91 – 86 (18-17)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Johnson (BKN): 23 pts, 4 ast
P. Millsap (ATL): 16 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks had a severe lack of Al Horford tonight en route to a 91-86 loss on the road to the Brooklyn Nets. While there were some bright spots, the Hawks being unable to Al Horford in this game truly cost them. Although the score ended up being close, Atlanta was never really in reach because of Al Horford-less basketball, a factor they’ve desperately needed in their past six games.

Alright, enough of that. The Nets came out small but lanky with Pierce at the 4, Garnett at the 5 and Shaun Livingston starting in place of the injured Deron Williams. Their defense was surprisingly energetic and effective thanks to a hard-hedging and trapping strategy that I’ve yet to see them play with for 48 full minutes like they did on this night. It worked, as the Hawks struggled making the extra pass and scoring one-on-one, finishing with just 86 points on 38.6% shooting from the field and 18 turnovers – a lot of them unforced and rather dumbfounding. Despite all this it was a tight game most of the way – thanks to Brooklyn being pretty bad – but a 14-0 start to the second half by the Nets gave them the lead and Joe Johnson doing Joe Johnson things in the fourth quarter the game.

Reaction grades [assessed 0-10]:

Paul Millsap: On paper, Millsap had far from a good game. As many turnovers as collected rebounds, 16 points on 4-12 shooting and a team-worst -12 to top it off. Unpleasant to say the least, but this game was a product of a game-long mismatch issue. Millsap was stuck having to guard Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson practically all night thanks to Brooklyn’s small scheme, possibly wearing him out on the other end. Signs seem to point to fatigue as this is Millsap’s third straight putrid shooting night, likely an effect of having to man the offense all to himself. 3.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll had a usual Carroll night, guarding the opponent’s best wing scorer and cutting all over the place. He did a decent enough job on Joe Johnson in some stretches, less than so in others, but overall a solid game. He finished with 10 points and 7 boards on 4-9 shooting from the field. 7/10

Pero Antic: The Nets gave Pero plenty of space on the perimeter, and he made them pay by canning 2-5 threes from long range. Every other aspect of his game was thoroughly underwhelming however. He didn’t seem to have a lot of energy, only grabbing 3 boards and moving slower than an Atlantic Ave. traffic jam. He managed to pick up 5 fouls in just 18 minutes with some rotations that were far from crisp, and really struggled to find the seams that Horford did in his position. Comparing the two wouldn’t be fair to Antic, but nonetheless a bad game by his standards. 2/10

Jeff Teague: Shaun Livingston’s length and the Nets’ P&R traps stifled the air out of Teague’s lungs, making for a performance to forget for Jeff. He shot 5-15 from the floor and committed 7 turnovers to 5 assists, most of the giveaways just at the fault of horrible IQ. As much as he’s improved this season, Teague has a ways to go before solidifying his place as an All-Star point guard. This isn’t the first game where he’s looked lost and out of control this season, but hopefully it will be the last. Sheesh/10

Kyle Korver: Not only did Korver hit number 104 tonight, but he was Atlanta’s renaissance man. His scoring output was shy but he collected 7 rebounds and dished out 6 dimes, putting his entire repertoire on display. In response, he ended up playing a team-high 37 minutes – all of which valuable to the team’s efforts, even when he struggled to find his shots. 8/10 Continue Reading…

Division recap’s back. Tell a friend.

2013 came and went and as we start 2014 the SouthEast division is currently… exactly how we left it. That said, while the teams may be the same (oh god, are the Magic the same) there is definitely a difference between where they were last season and where they are this season. Unlike past installations of the division recap, instead of going over the last week, this will go over how the season has gone for the teams so far.

Miami Heat, 1st, 26-8, 2nd in the EastMIA

Right where we left them, the defending champs are powering through yet another regular season for them. Like past repeat champions. the Heat look bored with the regular season. Unlike past regular season champions, the Heat don’t look as flawed as we’ve seen bored teams in the past. They still absolutely obliterate teams as need be, but there is an issue with them flipping the switch and losing games they shouldn’t: the Kings loss should have never happened. Miami is ranked 2nd in the East behind the Pacers, but have beaten the Pacers in one of their two regular season matchups so far. The Heat look like the best team in the NBA once again.

Atlanta Hawks, 2nd, 18-16, 3rd in the EastATL

If I had told you that the Hawks were going to be second in the Southeast division by the end of December you would have believed me. Had I told you that Al Horford was going to get injured for the season before the end of December you would have yelled at me for wishing that on the Hawks. Had I told you that the Hawks were going to be third in the East despite all of these things, you would have laughed at me. Now it’s January and all that stuff happened. The Hawks ball movement is better and Paul Millsap is a more than qualified replacement for Josh Smith, making up the loss of defense with his ever expanding arsenal on offense. Millsap can shoot 3’s, Teague is playing at an all star level, and Kyle Korver had over 100 straight games with at least one 3 pointer. It’s a real shame Horford is hurt, because I was excited to see what they could bring towards the end of the season. Now I don’t know if the Hawks will even finish this high in the division, let alone the conference. Continue Reading…