Archives For May 2015

Paul Pierce had another chance to terrorize the Hawks on Monday night. With eight seconds left on the clock, Pierce shot around a huge Nene screen and had an open 3-pointer for a chance to tie the game.

Apparently he didn’t call game this time.

Pierce missed the open shot, allowing the Hawks to walk away with a 106-101 victory to tie the series at two games apiece. The win gives home-court of the series back to the Hawks, having lost it by dropping Game 1 at home.

The biggest change for the Hawks was the play of Jeff Teague, who had his best game of the playoffs. Teague was out of control at time, but his aggression was a welcome sight from how he had played the first three games of the series. Teague finished with 26 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and what became the dagger 3-pointer, which he hit with 1:12 left to put the Hawks up seven.

Teague’s play did enough to offset the work of Washington’s Bradley Beal, who was absolutely magnificent with 34 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. In the absence of John Wall, Beal took over the Wizards’ offense successfully, often imitating Wall by just out-dribbling the Hawks down the floor in transition. Beal has been great for Washington in this series and there is a huge reason for the Hawks to be concerned by him in Game 5. Continue Reading…

The way the Hawks played at the end of Game 3 against the Wizards was a breath of fresh air. There was defensive activity, ball movement, and open shots that actually went it.

Of course, this was not from the Hawks’ starters. This was Mike Muscala, Mike Scott, Dennis Schröder, and Shelvin Mack finally playing the way that the fans were accustomed to in the regular season. These players fought back from 20 points down to tie the game. Of course, the Hawks wound up with a loss, but the effort and revitalization of the bench was a welcome sight for Atlanta fans.

On Monday night, it’s time for the fans to see that effort from the starting unit.

In the first-round series against Brooklyn, the problem with the Hawks is that the bench unit was awful, save for Pero Antic. This somewhat carried over in the start of the series against the Wizards, forcing Mike Budenholzer to shorten his bench rotation as much as possible. However, the Hawks’ starters — except for DeMarre Carroll — have also had a problem for the nine games they have played so far in the playoffs: they have not made shots.

Jeff Teague’s true-shooting percentage in the playoffs? 46.0%, down from 56.6% in the regular season, a difference of 10.6%. Kyle Korver? 58.9%, which is still good, but it is down from 69.9% in the regular season. Paul Millsap? 50.4% in the playoffs, 56.5% in the regular season. And Al Horford? 49.2% in the postseason compared to 56.3% in the regular season. Continue Reading…

John Wall may be out, but the Wizards still had enough to hold off the Hawks on Saturday, beating the Hawks 103-101. The Hawks rallied back from 21 down to tie the game with 13 seconds left, but still fell victim to Washington. Here’s how it happened.

1. Paul Pierce still has it
Okay, he doesn’t always have it. He shot 5-for-12 from the field including 3-for-7 from 3, but in the deciding moment he scored the biggest two of his 13 points. Pierce in his 17th season saw that he would be guarded by Dennis Schroder and knew he would take the 21-foot game winning shot as the buzzer sounded. The veteran of many playoff battles also still has his quick wit, too. When Pierce told that Schroder called his bucket “lucky”, he game a wry smile and responded only as he can.

“He’s a little young, barely in his second year; of course he’s going to say that,” Pierce said. “He’s hasn’t been around long enough and probably missed with me in NBA 2K.”

Whenever Pierce decides to retire, he’ll be missed by the entire NBA community.

2. The wait for the Hawks to have a performance reminiscent to their regular season is becoming as long as the wait for Doctor Dre to drop Detox
Paul Millsap didn’t start the game due to flu-like symptoms, and it appeared the rest of the starting lineup caught whatever he had, because they all looked sluggish. Hawks got out to yet another lethargic start and didn’t seem like a very confident team after the game. DeMarre Carroll, who prior to the Game 3 defeat had been the Hawks best player in the playoffs, only saw the court for two seconds in the fourth quarter. That’s troubling enough, but his response was to why he wasn’t in on the last possession was even more puzzling: Continue Reading…

The Hawks took care of business at home 106-90 against the Washington Wizards to even up their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at a game apiece. Washington’s John Wall was a late scratch just 60 minutes before tipoff, providing a good opportunity for Atlanta to get a vital win before the series shifts to Washington. Both Coach Budenholzer and DeMarre Carroll said after the game that the defensive plan did not change as a result of Wall’s absence, but it’s hard to believe that Jeff Teague ends up with a playoff-career-high seven rebounds if he has to contend with the taller and more athletic John Wall.

Ramon Sessions stepped up for the Wizards in Wall’s absence and played a fine game, shooting 8-for-14 for 21 points. Teague had a difficult time shooting against Washington, but contributed well in other areas of the game with the seven rebounds and eight assists. As a team, the Hawks totaled 30 assists on 37 made baskets, a byproduct of the perimeter players being able to get in the paint and find open shooters spacing the floor. Atlanta’s aggressiveness paid off in other ways; the Hawks got to the free throw line 25 times and forced Washington’s Marcin Gortat out of the game with six fouls in the fourth quarter. “We were attacking the goal this game; I think that was big for us,” Carroll said after the game. Continue Reading…

The Wizards had nearly an entire week to prepare for the second round after they had swept the Toronto Raptors.

The Hawks had little more than a day.

After finishing off the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, the Hawks had a quick turnaround to face off against the Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon. The result was rather unsurprising: the Hawks looked great early, but appeared to be out of gas by the fourth quarter. Everyone on the Hawks was missing open jumpers, they were moving less on offense, and the defense was a step slow in completing rotations. Because of this, the Hawks’ 10-point halftime lead turned into a 104-98 loss.

After posting over 50% shooting in the first half, the Hawks put up a dread 13-for-52 (25%) in the second half. DeMarre Carroll, who scored 21 points in the first half, only made one bucket in the final 24 minutes. Kyle Korver was 2-for-9 on mostly open 3-pointers in the second half. The shooting was so bad that Al Horford’s 4-for-12 (33%) second half shooting was the best performance by any Atlanta player in the second half. Continue Reading…

The games in the Atlanta Hawks’ series against the Brooklyn Nets have all had a similar story. The Hawks would take an early lead with their starting unit, then Brooklyn would cut into that lead with their bench, make the game close by halftime, and then threaten to take the lead for the remainder of the game.

Game 6 of the series looked like it was going to continue following that formula. The Hawks jumped out to a massive early advantage, making 13 of their first 18 shots to create a 36-23 lead after 12 minutes of play. However, the Hawks’ shooting then went cold and Joe Johnson was able to pull the Nets back within six by the halftime buzzer, with the Hawks’ lead down to just 51-45.

However, in the third quarter, the 60-win Hawks finally arrived to the series.

The Hawks scored 41 points in the third quarter, with Paul Millsap leading the pack with 11. The ball movement was crisp and the shots were crisper, as Atlanta saw 16 (15 assisted) of their 24 shot attempts in the quarter go through the bottom of the net. The Hawks absolutely blew the doors off of the Nets with a 23-3 run to open the period and finally sealing the series by a count of four to two. Continue Reading…