Archives For January 2017

(AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Wow. Where to even start?

It took all 48 minutes of regulation and four overtime periods but the Hawks, eventually, emerged from Philips Arena with a 142-139 victory against the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with a season high 45 points while Brandon Jennings added 18 points. 23 of Melo’s 45 points came in the first half where Melo and the Knicks hung 65 first half points on the Hawks. Melo and Jennings were two of six Knicks who scored in double-digits.

One for the ages

What a game. How does one even try to break this game down? We’ll give it a shot anyways and we’ll start in the fourth quarter.

The Hawks took a 103-102 lead thanks to this lob from Dennis Schröder to Dwight Howard.

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Annie Finberg/NBAE/Getty Images

In one of the most important games of the season, the Atlanta Hawks laid an egg at Philips Arena as they were run out of their own building by the Washington Wizards, falling 112-86 to their division rivals. All five of the Washington starters scored in double digits, led by Otto Porter’s 21 points.

Horrible loss

This was such an important game for the Hawks. The Wizards sat 1.5 games behind the Hawks prior to this game and the season series was tied at 1-1. The winner of this game would be in the drivers seat for the tiebreaker and it’s possible that these two teams will finish the season with similar records, giving the owner of the tiebreaker a huge advantage in terms of playoff seeding. And for the Hawks to lay the egg that they did in this game…unbelievable.

The Wizards flew out of the gates here, an 8-1 start to this game quickly forced Bud into a timeout. But this did little to rattle the Wizards, who scored 37 first quarter points on 56% shooting while the Hawks scored 25 points on 38% shooting. The Wizards did shoot the ball well but the Hawks were poor defensively, their energy and effort lacking.

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Happy Friday!

It’s that time of the week again, This Week in the Hawks Episode 5 covers a wide range of topics including:

  • The All-Star reserves and why Paul Millsap deserved his spot
  • The Hawks’ pending D-League move
  • Game recaps including the comeback against the Bulls, Wade’s and Butler’s comments
  • Stats from the week
  • A look at the Hawks’ upcoming fixtures

Dennis Schroder: The Finisher

Eric Yeboah —  January 27, 2017

Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, and Steph Curry maybe some of names blurted out when asked to name some of the best finishers at the point guard position. Rightfully so, as those individuals have each carved out their own niche whether it’s Irving’s ambidextrous finishes, Parker’s floater, Curry’s high layups off the glass or Rose’s body bending layups through contact.

Dennis Schroder’s name still remains mostly forgotten in this category, which may change by the end of his first year as a full-time starter. Tuning into a Hawks game, you may be drawn to four time All Star Paul Millsap’s scoring prowess, but this motion offense doesn’t work without Schroder’s penetration and finishing ability.His teammates have consistently echoed that sentiment all throughout this year that this team is much more dangerous when he’s attacking putting pressure on both the defense and the rim. The numbers don’t lie, when Schroder scores 23 points or more the Hawks are 10-2. In those twelve games he went for 31 against Westbrook, 27 against Derrick Rose, 28 against the Golden State killer that is Kyrie Irving and 24 a piece facing Steph Curry and Kyle Lowry.

In every one of those elite matchups he showed not only the ability to go toe to toe with some of the best, not only did he show improvement in his midrange jump shot; but sent a message that he can get to the rim with ease at the same level as those big names.

“I don’t really care what people say,” said Schroder when referring to being an overlooked finisher. “I am just trying to prove to my teammates every time we go out there and win games. Everything else will come, people will then talk about it, when we keep winning, people will keep watching us then everything will profit off of that.”

Coming out of the NBA Draft, the Rondo comparisons appeared valid due to his pass first mentality, defensive presence and lack of shooting; but more than anything was the way he found creases in the defense to slither his way through for a finish as quick as lightning. He’s not an elite athlete by any stretch, but what he does possess is a lethal first step, long arms and big hands. Those attributes have assisted in his current 55.3-percent conversion rate on layups, by far the highest of his career. Hidden in that number is his exceptional ability at understanding the amount of time he has in certain situations to release his shot given the type of defender attempting to contest his tries, and all of that came with time and practice.

“My first year I had to figure out how I would finish because there are so many big guys blocking my shots,” said Schroder. “So I had to adjust and see how I could finish without people blocking my shots. I started working more with the coaches, watching little guards in the league like Tony Parker and Rondo really taught me a lot.”

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to use that quickness to create an opening to the lane then use his IQ to gauge just how much or how little time he has to release his shot. You will also notice how he extends his body as he attempts the layup to create enough separation between him and his defender.

Understanding his defender seems to come natural to Schroder, and when you comprehend given scenarios, you then produce plethora of finishes. Particularly someone of his stature with long arms should use the scoop layups and high floating bankers to his advantage, because defenders have no choice but to either foul trying to contest or give up an easy bucket.

All of the best finishers in the league use it, but what I think sets Schroder apart is his ability to consistently convert off either foot or hand, meaning he he can finish taking off on his right leg with his left hand or finish using one side of the body on either side of the rim. In other words, he’s uncanny, unpredictable; but that’s what makes a great finisher great. That is what made Nate Archibald, Rod Strickland, Kevin Johnson and Allen Iverson special and worth the ticket. Those guys played the glass so well and Schroder does the same whether he is on balance or not.

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to score off balance as well as properly place the ball on the glass at all sorts of angles using either hand. Additionally, you can see how effective his misdirection dribble move is and how it helps accelerate him into the paint.

This season, Schroder’s three ball has improved and he’s taking the mid range pull up more confidently than he ever has. Nuzzled in all of this progress, we may have forgotten how lethal he is at getting to the basket. His finishes may or may not wow you like the rest of the bunch that I named earlier, but what they will do is force you to respect his craft, his style, his way.

“I don’t think he is overlooked compared to those other big names because those guys are really good,” said teammate Kent Bazemore on where Schroder ranks among the best finishers at his position. “But I do think in time he will be regarded as one of the best.”

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks managed — somehow — to escape the United Center with a comeback victory against the Chicago Bulls, 119-114. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 40 points while Dwyane Wade scored 33 points. Only one other Bull scored in double digits outside of Wade and Butler: Doug McDermot with 10 points.

The comeback/collapse

A basic summary of this game prior to this comeback: The Bulls led this game the whole way and the Hawks had done a decent job sticking within a run of the Bulls, but couldn’t mount that run to pull ahead/away from the Bulls because they had trouble slowing down Butler and Wade/getting stops. Summary over.

Dwyane Wade sunk a jump shot that put the Bulls up 110-100 with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, leaving the Hawks staring down the barrel of a second consecutive defeat. Coach Bud called for a timeout at this juncture.

In what was an astonishing minute and 19 seconds the Hawks clawed their way back within a point of the Bulls, 110-109. The Hawks eventually won the game 119-114 behind a 19-4 run over the final three minutes having trailed by 10 points with just three minutes left.

The Bulls should’ve closed out this game. Why didn’t they? How did this happen? Let’s break it down.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped the final home game of their three game homestand, a 115-105 loss at the hands of the L.A. Clippers, who were without stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Austin Rivers stepped up in Paul’s absence, pouring out a game-high 27 points while Jamal Crawford added 19 points.

I don’t normally do this, but I’ll stick Rivers’ highlights here. He deserves credit, he played well. It’s nice to see that he’s a competent NBA player now, which was certainly not the case when he was in New Orleans.

The return of Jamal Crawford

It has been a rough month of January for Jamal Crawford. Before last night’s game, Crawford — for the month of January — had been averaging 8.6 points per game on 27.7% shooting from the field and 14.8% from three-point land. As you can see, a really rough month for Crawford, especially from three, Jamal had made just four of his 27 three-point shots. Per Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, coach Doc Rivers was asked about Jamal’s struggles. When Jamal walked into the room, Doc joked that he was sick of answering questions about Crawford, who put his arms around a few reporters, saying “Let’s change that narrative tonight.”

And change it he sure did.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks moved to a season best eight games above .500 after they took care of the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night, 110-93. The Sixers — who were without Joel Embiid — were led by Ersan Ilyasova’s 21 points while (Sir) Robert Covington added 15 points to the Philly cause. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 22 points.

We’re going to keep this brief enough today, with the Falcons game on and all…

Atlanta’s big second quarter sets up win

The Sixers were doing a decent job sticking with — and in front of — the Hawks in the early stages of this game but the Hawks used a very good second quarter to put the little bit of distance they needed by half time, capped by a buzzer-beater by Paul Millsap.

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