Archives For January 2016

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their first game home after their four game road trip in what can only be described as an ugly, 85-83 affair with the L.A. Clippers. It’s a normal occurrence in the NBA for teams who have been on a lengthy road trip to have a let down game in their home return and this was no exception. In this tough loss, what were the takeaways from the first meeting of the season between the Clippers and the Hawks?

Jeff Teague’s haircut

“Handsome young man” – Bob Rathbun.

teague

 

And moving swiftly on…

Lack of bench scoring

The Hawks’ bench made life very difficult for the starters, who essentially had to carry the entire offensive load. The bench scored just 12 points and were outscored by Jamal Crawford by himself, let alone the Clippers’ bench who outscored the Atlanta bench 39-12. Though, it wasn’t that the Hawks bench were outscored by Jamal Crawford by nine points that was concerning — the Hawks bench didn’t register a single point in the second half nor did they register a single free throw attempt in the second half. That’s incredible. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up their four game road trip with a 119-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Having missed the Hawks’ last game in Phoenix, Paul Millsap rejoined the team in the Mile High City as the Hawks finished the road trip on a positive note. Millsap led the charge with 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block, illustrating (if it wasn’t obvious already) why he is arguably the most important player on the Hawks’ roster. This was an important win for the Hawks after the desperately disappointing loss to the 13-31 Phoenix Suns. What were the takeaways from this fixture?

Teague’s improved outing

A lot of people have been quick to criticise Jeff Teague for his inconsistency recently (which, to be fair, has been warranted), but let’s give him credit when he does have a good game. He bounced back from his disappointing outing in Phoenix with a 12 points, 10 assists display against the Nuggets.

One of Teague’s better qualities is his ability to penetrate and draw the attention of the defense. Time and time again last night Teague drew the attention of defense. When the defense began to commit/fully committed to help, Teague would just hand over the ball to the open big man, whether it was Splitter, Horford, Millsap or Mike Scott, who would finish the play. This was one of the contributing reasons as to why the Hawks scored 56 points in the paint. And for the occasions when the ball wasn’t dumped off to a big in the paint, it found its way to the three-point line. On two separate occasions in the second half, in the same corner, Teague connected with Kyle Korver for open three-pointers after Teague drew the attention of Korver’s man. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks’ season can’t have hit much more of a low note after suffering a 98-95 defeat against the Phoenix Suns, who were without Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer, and Ronnie Price. In a classic trap game situation the Suns got the job done, with Archie Goodwin hitting the go-ahead, contested three with 0.1 seconds of the game remaining. The Hawks are now 1-2 on their Western Conference road trip. In a very disappointing loss, what were the takeaways from this game?

The need for a consistent backup center

With Paul Millsap unavailable for this game due to personal reasons, Al Horford slid over to the power forward spot and Tiago Splitter started at center. Millsap has been Atlanta’s best player this season and his production was always going to be sorely missed, as he leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and steals. It was, therefore, important that the Hawks received meaningful production from Splitter, but this never materialized. Splitter only registered two points, three rebounds and a plus-minus rating of minus-13 in just 17 minutes, 11 of which came in the first half.

I’m sorry but he earns nearly $9 million this season. How can you justify having a backup center who can’t even provide 20 minutes or play in crunch time (in a game where rebounding was an issue) when there’s an injury? There was a period in the fourth quarter where Mike Scott played center (while Horford got some rest, eventually playing 38 minutes) and Thabo Sefolosha was the power forward. I love Mike Scott, and he had a good game, but he should NEVER be your center. At all. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks’ fourth quarter comeback fell short against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night as they split the season series with one win apiece, each taking care of business on their home floor. In this long regular season, every game is but a chapter of a long novel that is the NBA season. You have the same main characters who appear in every chapter, but the content of each chapter differs. When we look back upon the chapter of the Atlanta Hawks’ visit to Sleep Train Arena, what are thing main points to take away?

Hawks hosed by bad call late in fourth quarter

Let’s set the scene — There’s 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter and the score is 86-85 in favor of the Kings. The Hawks have just secured a rebound following a DeMarcus Cousins miss. This next possession is obviously very important, as the game is tightly contested. Dennis Schröder dribbles the ball past half court and waits for his teammates to take their positions. Al Horford heads towards the paint and Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore head to their positions on the wings. Schröder gives the ball to Paul Millsap near the elbow. Millsap drives toward the rim and has the ball slapped out of his hands and out of bounds. The call on the floor is Hawks ball with 12 seconds on the shot clock.

However, the officials decided to review, and rightly so. I say “rightly so” because there were less than two minutes remaining, meaning the officials can review the play and consult with the Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J. over any plays they’re unsure about. Replay showed the ball was clearly touched last by Rondo. Millsap doesn’t touch the ball after it is slapped out of his hands. Even the Kings broadcast team, who initially believed it hit Millsap on the knee, conclusively agreed, “that’s going to be Atlanta ball.” Continue Reading…

With the Hawks crossing the halfway point of their 82 game regular season, it is time to look back at some of the successes and failures of the team.

The team’s record sits at 24-17 prior to Monday’s match against the Orlando Magic, on pace for 48 wins for you math majors. This would be a 12-win drop off from last year despite only a couple of roster changes during the offseason. It was common thought that the Hawks wouldn’t be able to match their performance from a season ago given natural regression. The first half of the season has only proved that line of thinking correct. Still, the team has a real shot at a top two seed in the Eastern Conference and will look to enter the playoffs in better shape this time around.

Let’s dive right into what has gone right early in the 2015-16 season.

The Positives:

Kent Bazemore

By now you’ve heard Baze’s story. A four year player at Old Dominion, Kent went undrafted in 2012 and has had to fight for playing time in the Association. James Herbert of CBS Sports recently detailed his early struggles and his improvement since becoming a Hawk in 2014. 

Kent shot 32.7% from three in sporadic time over his first two seasons in the NBA with the Warriors and Lakers. Last season, he shot 36.4% from long range. This year? A brilliant 41.9%. Kent credits a revamped shooting stroke and it has showed in his results. But he has also elevated his game in other ways.

Kent is playing the most minutes of his career at over 28 a game and has responded with double digit scoring for the first time as well. He is fourth on the team in points per game (12.8) and third in True Shooting Percentage (59.2%). In addition, he has turned into a real pesky defender with a 0.4 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DPM) and over a steal per game.

Long regarded as just a slasher with monster hops, the man from Kelford, North Carolina has refined his game into a well-rounder contributor. Baze was once only known for his bench celebrations, but now his electrifying play between the baselines is causing others to go wild from the sideline. It was only a few months ago when questions surfaced about the team’s ability to replace DeMarre Carroll. Well, I’d say the Hawks have found their replacement plus some.

Continue Reading…

I’m happy to present a guest column from Irish NBA writer Graham Chapple — BG

As the regular season has gone from its early beginnings to its halfway point, teams are now more aware of their strengths and weaknesses — and how they rank among the competition — than they were at the beginning of the season. Some teams realize that their front court is too crowded, their bench isn’t giving them the lift they require or that almost nothing is working. For all such teams there is the trade season when teams can flip their surplus assets for something that can be of benefit, whether it’s right now (an established player) or for the future (a young player or draft pick).

Teams like the New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets are examples of teams who could really use a point guard to stabilize the position. Fans have taken notice of their teams’ weakness, prompting them to fantasize about potential trades for a quality point guard. One particular point guard that fans are yearning for is third-year German point guard Dennis Schröder.

And why wouldn’t they? Dennis is a talented young point guard who has starter potential. He’s lightning quick, with the ability to collapse the defense on drives to the rim. He can also pass and defend. If he improves as a finisher and develops even an average 3-point shot, he’ll be a very solid point guard for any team whether it’s in a starting or bench role. Continue Reading…

Paul Millsap scored his 10,000th career point and finished with 21 points, six rebounds, three assist as Atlanta defeated the Brooklyn Nets 114-86.  Dennis Schroder recorded his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 assist leading the bench that outscored Brooklyn’s 53-31. Thaddeus Young was Brooklyn’s leading scorer with 18 points shooting 8-12 from the field. On the second game of a back to back it is important to spread out minutes and Coach Budenholzer was able to do so in a winning effort.

“Good effort by our group. I think a lot of guys played well. The bench was really good for us, said Coach Budenholzer. The first half was a little bit back and forth. We got some cushion. They threw a punch to start the third quarter. It was good to see us take that and extend the lead. A lot of different guys played well. A little different combinations tonight, so it was good to see different guys in a little bit different situations play well”

Atlanta shot the ball well in the first half, shooting 50% in the first quarter and 60% in the second quarter. Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 10 points apiece, while Georgia Tech’s Thaddeus Young led Brooklyn with 14 followed by Wayne Ellington with nine. Once Thabo Sefolosha, Dennis Schroder and the rest of the bench were inserted into the game late in the first quarter and to start the second, the defense picked up and the Hawks were able to pull away to a 44-32 lead with 7:12 remaining in the 2nd quarter. However, a couple fouls by Atlanta, threes from Joe Johnson and Brooklyn were able to cut the lead to just seven as the half ended. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks won their second straight game, defeating the Chicago Bulls 120-105 and ending the Bulls’ 6-game win streak. Al Horford did it all in this one, recording his 10th double-double of the season and finishing with a season-high 33 points and adding 10 rebounds, six assists, a steal and four blocked shots.

The Hawks never trailed throughout the game as they seemed to have an answer whenever Chicago made a run. The Hawks’ biggest lead was 19 as they focused on using speed to disrupt the flow of the Bulls’ up-tempo offense. The ball moved well, resulting in six players scoring in double digits and totaling 33 assists as a team.

Horford talked about how the team wanted to get off to a good start, especially against a top-tier Eastern Conference team.

“We understand this was a good measuring stick game for us,” said Horford. “They’re a really good team. They just won six straight. We knew we needed to come out and the effort needed to be there. We’ve been playing hard but we needed to play harder. We put an emphasis on that and, from the beginning of the game, we did it. They’re a good team. They kept making runs at us, but we were able to hold them off.” Continue Reading…

Over the past decade, the power forward position has been in a constant state of flux; evolving from bruising rebounders with the hint of a midrange jumper, to floor spacing 3-point threats, and on to today’s playmaking variety.

Paul Millsap, through different points in his career, has fit each description — adapting to meet the position’s demands:

With the proliferation of specialized 3-and-D wings, the power forward position has become an important source of secondary playmaking — attacking the brief 4-on-3 advantages created by defensive reactions to a pick and roll.

Once limited behind Carlos Boozer on the bench in Utah, Millsap has worked himself into one of the most notable playmaking power forwards in the NBA. He has developed similar ability to pass and make plays in open space to counterparts Draymond Green, Boris Diaw and Blake Griffin. Each is with the right coach, in the right system and surrounded by the right talent to show off their inner point guard.

Millsap’s demeanor is quiet and workman-like, so at times his impact may get lost in the flash of a Jeff Teague crossover or the intricate off-ball choreography that frees Kyle Korver up for an open 30-foot 3-pointer. But make no mistake, Millsap is the concrete, glue and stick that holds this team together.

Continue Reading…

Arron Afflalo scored a season-high 38 points as New York downed the visiting Hawks 111-97. Sunday’s victory was the Knicks’ first in three tries against Atlanta this season.

Afflalo -who is averaging 12.7 points on the year- finished seven-of-eight from three and 14-of-17 overall. Meanwhile, New York won for just the second time in the team’s previous seven outings.

The Knicks stormed out to an 11-2 lead, largely due to the impressive play of Jose Calderon -seven of Calderon’s nine points came in the opening stanza. However, Atlanta would finish the quarter on a 19-10 run to enter the second trailing 22-21.

New York would pound the glass to put Atlanta down by ten entering halftime. For the half, Atlanta was out rebounded by a wide 26-to-10 margin. The Knicks also shot 52.4 percent from the floor, while Atlanta struggled with a 40.5 percent clip. Continue Reading…