Archives For February 2015

Hawks Outlast the Magic

Bo Churney —  February 28, 2015

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…

The Hawks had a huge problem on Friday night.

No, it wasn’t that they “needed a big man” like many continue to insinuate about the Hawks after the team stood pat at the trade deadline. It wasn’t that the Hawks needed Gary Neal or Ray Allen, either; this 25-point loss would not have been remedied by a roster change.

Quite simply, the Hawks did not play “Hawks basketball” on Friday night.

Sure, it did not help that Kyle Korver’s shooting was off, as the sharpshooter was 3-for-13 from the field and 2-for-11 from behind the arc. It did not help that Mike Scott was missing wide open dunks or that Paul Millsap was airballing free throws. The Hawks lost because they turned the ball over 20 times through the first three quarters.

Credit to the Raptors for playing great defense and anticipating the passing lanes well, but this was mostly on the Hawks. Their passes were often lazy and the ball started sticking a bit as the turnovers started to pile up. Millsap and Teague frequently tried driving in the lane, but when there was nothing there for them, they tried too much to get bailed out by the refs or to force an awkward pass out to the perimeter never reached its mark. Continue Reading…

The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars 163-158 on Sunday night in Madison Square Garden behind game-MVP Russell Westbrook’s 41-point performance. LeBron James led the East squad with 30 points.

Of course, this is a Hawks blog, so the focus here is going to be how Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver performed over anything else. Despite the loss, it’s safe to say that those four represented Atlanta well and gave the city something to be proud of.

Horford was the first Hawk to enter the game, as he did so with Kyrie Irving about seven minutes into the first quarter. This felt like a surprise, because the general thought was before the game that Budenholzer might insert all four Hawks at once. However, it did not take long for the rest of the Hawks to see the floor, as Teague, Millsap, and Korver joined Horford and Irving on the floor about a minute of game time later. Those four played the remainder of the quarter and we did not see four Hawks on the floor again until the third quarter when they took the floor with LeBron James.

Korver had the most notable performance of any Hawks player, as quick-paced nature of the All-Star game suits his style perfectly. Korver scored 21 points in 16 minutes and was 7-for-12 from 3-point land for the game. Continue Reading…

As ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported — and the NBA later confirmed — Kyle Korver was named the injury replace to Dwyane Wade for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Korver becomes the fourth Hawks on the team, joining teammates Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford.

“We would like to thank Commissioner Silver for selecting Kyle as an All-Star,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “He is an integral part of our team and we are extremely proud that Kyle will be able to join his teammates Al, Paul and Jeff in being recognized this weekend. This is a positive reflection on all of the work the entire team, coaching staff and organization has put in this season.”

Korver currently leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage (52.8%), 3-point field goals made (160), and true-shooting percentage. (73.6%) Korver is currently chasing a 50-50-90 season, where he could become the first player in league history to shoot 50% from the field, 50% from 3, and 90% from the free throw line.

The All-Star game will take place on Sunday, February 15th in Madison Square Garden.

Throughout the season, there has been a lot of talk of what team Ray Allen will decide to go to, or whether he will come back at all. The future Hall of Famer has been taking his sweet time in making up his mind. Thus far, he has been rumored to be connected to the Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers. So, basically, any team in contention that could use a shooter.

Everyone knows who Ray Allen is. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters of all time, he won championships with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, and now half of the teams in the league are vying for the thirty-nine-year old’s service for half of a season.

For his career, Allen is shooting an absurd 40 percent from downtown, which is the main reason teams want him. Allen will help any team’s spacing, without a doubt, and it is fun to think about him in Mike Budenholzer’s offense. For the first time in his career, Ray shot more 3s than 2s last season and that should be expected to be the same for the second half of the season. He should be expected to run around the perimeter, looking for opportunities to knock down a triple.

One reason Allen is going to be used as a sniper is because he’s no longer athletic enough to consistently drive to the rim, especially against the über-athletic guards in the NBA these days. It seems a little outlandish to expect a guy Allen’s age to drive and blow by someone like Jimmy Butler or DeMar DeRozan. Continue Reading…

According to Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, the Atlanta Hawks have traded the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Adreian Payne, to Minnesota for a first-round pick:

Payne, who played four seasons at Michigan State, only got on the floor for 19 total minutes this season in three games. He averaged 1.7 points while on the floor for the Hawks, and spent most of this season in the D-League. In the D-League, he averaged 13 points, eight rebounds, and two assists per game playing with Austin and Fort Worth.

With Paul Millsap, Mike Scott, and Elton Brand on the roster, there was really no chance for Payne to get meaningful playing time. He is a versatile power forward that fit the system, but Atlanta felt getting a future pick for him was the best option.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the first-round pick will come in 2017:

The Hawks now have an open roster spot, and according to Woj it could be used on Ray Allen or Gary Neal if Neal is bought out in Minnesota. Stay tuned as more details start to emerge.

This game could have definitely been billed as a trap game for the Hawks.

While the Timberwolves haven’t been good all year, they finally have gotten some of their injured pieces healthy. Ricky Rubio is back, Kevin Martin is back, and Nikola Pekovic and Shabazz Muhammad were both healthy for this game. With the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back coming off of a loss against Memphis where Jeff Teague was hobbled with a slight ankle injury at the end, it would not have been too surprising if Atlanta got caught napping by a Minnesota team that still hopes to prove something this year.

Of course, this Hawks team is still proving that it is not one that is going to get caught napping very often.

Al Horford scored a season-high 28 points and DeMarre Carroll scored a career-high 26 points to pave the way for Atlanta in a 117-105 win over the Wolves in confines of the Target Center in Minnesota. The win kept the Hawks from losing consecutive games for the first time since mid-November, when the team dropped games to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It definitely looked early on like that streak could end, as Minnesota was aggressively attacking the boards and getting second chances on offense. The Wolves had 23 offensive rebounds in the game and turned them into 27 second chance points, constantly extending possessions where the Hawks had to reset after playing 15 or 20 second of good defense. The rebounds were a big reason why Minnesota was hanging even with the Hawks at halftime with a score of 57-53 in favor of Atlanta.

But the Hawks turned it around in the third quarter, led by Carroll’s 11 points in the period. Overall, the Hawks committed more to running in transition, scoring a whopping 14 fast break points in the quarter. To their credit, the Wolves kept grinding on the glass and getting second chance opportunities, but the Hawks were mostly able to shut them down and forced the Wolves into 7-for-21 shooting in the period for just 19 points. Continue Reading…