Archives For March 2017

From a 9–2 start to out of playoff contention, from a streaking team to now stumbling into the postseason, the Hawks have seemingly endured it all this season. Sunday afternoon’s loss to the lowly Brooklyn Nets completed their second seven-game losing streak of the season. Thabo Sefolosha was a late game scratch and, with the Hawks already without Kent Bazemore, Tauren Prince was tapped for his first career start. And, if you’ve noticed the flashes that he’s shown throughout the year, the start went exactly as expected.

 

“He did what he normally does,” DeAndre Bembry said. “He was aggressive offensively, got a few steals, created fast-breaks and of course the good defense. That’s what Coach likes about us as rookies — we play on both sides of the ball.”

 

Tim Hardaway Jr. has been the surprise spark for the Hawks this, but Taurean is giving him a run for his money. Taurean has accomplished what very few rookies under Head Coach Mike Budenholzer have ever done — gain his undeniable trust. At the wing, where the Hawks have a logjam of veterans, Prince has emerged post-all star break shooting 40 percent from three while showcasing his ability to guard all positions except centers all while also playing with a spirit this team desperately needed.

 

“I’ve just come into the second half of the season with a different mindset of how I approach things, how I approach practice and different preparation,” Prince said. “It’s helped me out this far and I think it’s helped the team out as well and I plan to keep doing what I’m doing, but turn it up a little more. Especially since it’s coming to the end of the season.”

 

Currently, he sits as the team’s fifth-best defensive player according to defensive Box Plus/Minus. Especially given the troubles that Dwight Howard has faced in this particular defensive scheme during pick and roll situations and given Bazemore’s increased role as a ball handler throughout this season, there was an opportunity for Prince to earn his keep.

 

He’s done so in so many ways, displaying his ability to chase-down blocks, rotate over from the weak side, contest shots at the rim, anticipate steals and utilize his length in passing lanes. Prince has brought another dimension to this Hawks team that they desperately needed.

 

The bravado that Prince carries onto the floor isn’t always prevalent within many rookies, but it’s something Bazemore noticed earlier in the season. He spoke about it with me in November following Prince’s 19 minutes outing in a 107–100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

“Just another testament to the Atlanta Hawks player development system,” Bazemore said. “A guy works hard every day and when he gets his name called he’s ready. That’s one of his [Taurean’s] greatest attributes — he’s fearless, he’s out there chirping, hitting people, finishing above the rim and that’s his game. It’s good when you can get a young fella this early in his career and be that confident.”

 

The confidence was always there, but every rookie needs that breakout game or two to reassure themselves they belong. Just a few weeks ago, following a 16 point performance — his career high is 17 — against the Memphis Grizzlies, he acknowledged that that moment had arrived. In addition, his five points, five rebounds, three steals game against Portland on February 13th and again his eight points, 12 rebounds and two steals in Boston on February 27th  were a testament to his work ethic and another indication that he belonged, according to Prince.

 

“I’m a firm believer in if you put in the work then everything will take care of itself,” Prince said. “This summer Deandre and I were here, so credit to him and the coaching staff for putting us in the best position. Just being in the gym — especially at the beginning of the season when I wasn’t playing much — I was in the gym a lot more just trying to get reps. I just always had that confidence because I put in the work and believe in myself.”

 

Who would have guessed that? As a young player, especially a first round pick, the images of walking in and being a bonafide stud play through your head on several occasions. However, understanding the importance of how to be the best at what your role is on the team takes some time. Once that hill is climbed and embraced there is more room for growth, and Prince has acknowledged that truth.

 

Now, with the regular season coming to a close, Prince has caught on at the right time. The core players are fully aware of his value to this team and believe he will be a difference maker when they need it the most.

 

“It means a lot when you have guys like Paul Millsap, Dennis [Schroder] and Dwight [Howard] have that type of confidence in me and it’s another reason why I continue to play with confidence,” Prince said. “For me, it starts on the defensive end. I feel like in the beginning of the season I had a different mindset, but I’ve learned to focus on what’s more important. I just want to continue to get better and that’s the great thing about it is I have a lot of room to improve.”

 

The Atlanta Hawks won their second consecutive game after they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 99-92 at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night. The Sixers were led by Richaun Holmes’ 25 points while ‘The Homie’ Dario Sarić added 15 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dwight Howard’s third 20-20 game of the season (22 points and 20 rebounds) while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks after the Bucks picked up a big-time win against the Boston Celtics in Boston. Behind them, the Indiana Pacers fell to the 8-seed after they were well beaten in Memphis against the Grizzlies while the Miami Heat moved into 7-seed with a road win in New York and sit just 2.5 games adrift of the 5-seed.

Just seven games remain for the Hawks.

Dwight coming up big

Continue Reading…

There are some good news and some bad news about the Atlanta Hawks…

The good news is that the Atlanta Hawks won a game.

The bad news is that the Atlanta Hawks really should have lost.

The Atlanta Hawks are in a major freefall losing seven straight games which included an complete embarrassment loss to the Brooklyn Nets. They were still in the same set of circumstances injury wise, playing without the services of Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha. One more loss and the Hawks would match their longest losing streak in the Mike Budenholzer era which happened during his first season in 2014.

Dennis Schroder finished with 27 points, nine assists and six rebounds. He was key in a 17-1 run in the fourth quarter, hitting two consecutive 3-pointers to lift the Hawks to a 95-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns. That’s the good news…

Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks snapped their seven game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at Philips Arena. The Suns were led by T.J. Warren’s 24 points while Tyler Ulis added a double-double, 15 points and 10 assists. 

Standings watch

The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed but remain in a tie with the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night. Elsewhere, the Indiana Pacers lost crucial ground, falling to a narrow defeat at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Losing streak snapped, taking care of business

It’s been a long time coming but the Hawks finally returned to winning ways having lost seven on the bounce. Although, it’s no more than what should’ve been expected. 

The Suns were without Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler, Leandro Barbosa and Dragan Bender. As such, the Hawks — shorthanded as they were — were certainly expected to win this game and they took care of business like they were supposed to behind a strong first quarter where the Hawks outscored the Suns 27-12.

“Obviously we needed a win so I was really pleased with the way the guys came out in the first quarter. The aggressiveness, the competitiveness, the togetherness. Obviously it gave us the cushion we needed to get through the rest of the night”

— Coach Mike Budenholzer

The Suns showed good fight in this game, overcoming an 18 point lead and even taking a seven point lead in the fourth quarter before the Hawks — behind two big three-pointers from Dennis Schroder — reeled off an 8-0 to re-take the lead.

“I needed to hit some. They were shifting a lot off or me. I saw an opportunity to shoot it. I just took it with confidence. I’m glad I made them.”

— Dennis Schröder

In the end, the Hawks did what they needed to do. Should the game have been as close as it was? Probably not but given how desperately the Hawks have needed a win, it doesn’t matter how it comes or how poorly the Hawks may or may not have played. They got the win they needed to stop the rot. Now it’s time to build on it, starting later tonight in Philadelphia.

“It was definitely great to get a win but we have to keep it going. We know our capabilities, we are not settling with just this win.”

— Taurean Prince

Continue Reading…

As you read this article, understand that this is coming from a contributor that covered the Brooklyn Nets for the last two seasons for the TrueHoop Network…

The Atlanta Hawks at this point…STINK! Unapologetically, literally and figuratively.

The Hawks at this point are moonwalking their way into the playoffs and are in danger of dropping to the sixth spot, being passed by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Atlanta Hawks lost to the lowly Brooklyn Nets 107-92 at home marking their season high seven game losing streak. The Hawks were without three starters which included Paul Millsap, who the Hawks desperately need in the playoffs. No check that, the Hawks may need him to win a game at this point. For a more politically correct recap of this game, please check out Graham Chapple’s follow up on HawksHoop.com. It will be informative, but he is very polite in describing Atlanta’s play.

I can’t say the same in my…

Three lessons

Lesson Number One: How do the Atlanta Hawks get beat down by these guys?

The Brooklyn Nets are the worst team in the NBA. Period. Point blank. The fact that they beat the New York Knicks twice in a week brings the franchise a sense of joy of accomplishment this year. Trust me. The Nets started the season at rock bottom (Surprise! They’re still there!) and have struggled at every aspect including holding any leads. That issue is exacerbated on the road. They almost blew it again with the Hawks cutting a 22 point lead to five in the second half…

Continue Reading…

Happy Tuesday! Or, happy ‘at least it’s not Monday’, right?

Anyways, today’s episode of This Week in the Hawks covers a few topics:

  • The Hawks’ seven game losing streak
  • Paul Millsap fresh injury news
  • Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha
  • Sunday’s game against the Nets
  • The Hawks’ poor offense
  • A lookahead to the Hawks’, Bucks’ and Pacers’ upcoming schedule in their three-way race for the 5 seed

The Atlanta Hawks slid to their seventh straight defeat at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets at Philips Arena, 107-92. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 23 points while Jeremy Lin added 19 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 24 points while Dwight Howard added another double-double, 19 points and 16 rebounds.

Standings watch

With this loss, the Hawks briefly slid to the sixth seed before the Chicago Bulls defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, handing the fifth seed back to Atlanta. The Pacers can match the Hawks’ and Bucks’ record of 37-36 should they secure victory against the Philadelphia 76ers at home.

Rock bottom?

Well…this has to be rock bottom, right? A seven game losing streak and a home defeat to the (prior to this game) 15-57 Nets who had only won 5 road games this season? Sliding from eight games above .500 to just one game above .500? Seems about right, though it’s obviously important to mention that the Hawks are carrying significant injuries: Paul Millsap (without whom the Hawks are 0-8), Kent Bazemore and now Thabo Sefolosha, who was a late scratch in this game with a right groin strain (a left groin strain kept him out of action before the All-Star break).

It’s been difficult to watch the Hawks in this stretch, but you have to remember this team is (obviously) SO much different without Paul Millsap. You also can’t understate Kent Bazemore’s importance either. As much as he has struggled this season, he is capable of playing both sides of the ball and he allows THJ to come off the bench, which greatly helps the bench production which is an area the Hawks have desperately struggled since Paul’s absence brought Ersan Ilyasova off the bench and Bazemore’s absence brought THJ off the bench.

Continue Reading…