Atlanta Stops Two Streaks Against Boston — 3 Lessons

Ronald Agers —  February 28, 2017

The Atlanta Hawks scored a solid defensive performance against the Boston Celtics winning 114-98 for their first win since the All-Star break. With the win, the Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak and are now three games in the loss column behind the division-eading Washington Wizards.

Dennis Schroder finished with 21 points last night, corralling his 22nd game of scoring at least 20 points this season. How good is that? Schroder had 10 games of 20 points or more entering this season! Dwight Howard (more on him later) scored 17 points and grabbed a team high 12 rebounds. Paul Millsap, still in his All-Star form, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Atlanta’s losing streak was not the only streak that was snapped, another historical streak was snapped. It was one of my…

Three lessons…

Lesson number one… Isaiah Thomas’ 20 points in a game streak is OVER!

Boston Celtics All-Star guard, Isaiah Thomas saw his franchise-record streak of 43 games with 20 points or more go by the wayside Monday night. Thomas had a bad night shooting finishing with 19 points on an anemic 4-for-21 shooting in 31 minutes of action. Throw in seven turnovers, and let’s just say the Hawks had him basically on lock all night long. This marks only the second time all season long that Thomas didn’t tally 20 points in a game.

But let’s take a look back at what this record really means. Not just to Celtics fans, but basketball purists in general. Thomas passed true Boston greats to get to the team record books. We’re talking about legends like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Dave Cowens… this list goes on and on. Considering that Thomas was drafted at the bottom OF THE SECOND ROUND, we should all tip our hats to this special player. This is a bad dude folks. But everyone has an off night.

Lesson number two… This is the Dwight Howard that the Hawks need to make noise in the playoffs

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, Dwight Howard got ejected from the game with two technical fouls. But Howard looked like the player that the Lakers and the Rockets wanted for the past few seasons. He had an edge. He looked like he wanted to make an impact and dominate. In this game, Howard may have got tossed, but his presence was felt long after he was gone and hopefully for the Hawks, Howard will consistently provide the defense and rebounding like this for the playoff run.

For years Shaquille O’Neal would criticize Dwight Howard for not taking advantage of his size and dominate in the paint like a big man should. Howard has roundly criticized for not taking the game seriously. That was not the case last night and it was showed in these instances…

Howard does a little “Touching up” on Isaiah Thomas.

The business started picking up in the third quarter, when Howard took a hard foul on Isaiah Thomas. The foul was around the neck which angered the Celtics. The referees only gave Howard a common foul for the play. But as soon as the teams went down to the other end of the court, Al Horford fouled Howard. This seemed to get under Howard’s skin and Horford was pushed by Howard which led to Dwight getting a technical foul.

If you are a Atlanta Hawks fan, you have to love the intensity that Dwight is showing in this situation. Ask any big man and they will tell you, if a little guard comes through the middle, you foul him hard and send a message. No one is saying to injure a player. There is no room in the game for that, but if you are as big and strong as a Dwight Howard, there is no reason for a guard as small as Isaiah Thomas getting full clear lanes to the basket. The Hawks pay Dwight Howard to rim protect. Let him protect!

When Al Horford tried to protect his teammate (which he was right to do) Howard showed that he wasn’t going anywhere and sent the message he would do it again. This is called domination folks. The Hawks need to show the Clevelands, Torontos and Washingtons of the NBA that if any player wants to come to the rim, they will have something to think about.

The second technical that Dwight Howard got was for hanging on the rim after a dunk

This was a questionable call watching the play, and the NBA stated after the game it was the wrong call. But let’s think for a minute. When was the last time anyone see Howard dunk the ball with so much ferocity? This was a dunk that Shaq made famous in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. Legs spread out, clearing players out of the way. This is Dwight Howard who played in Orlando leading the Magic to the Finals who was considered the best big man in basketball. Dwight Howard set the tone defensively and his teammates carried it on to an important victory Monday night.

Lesson number three… Dennis Schroder needs to catch a clue, or a calendar, or a watch.

This has been a strange week for Dennis Schroder. First, he doesn’t get back in time to meet the team after the All-Star break. His excuse was having issues with his visa. Okay, but that had nothing to do with a manufactured feud with Isaiah Thomas stating that he talked about members of his family. I agree some things are off limits when it comes to trash talking, but some players tend to do that from time to time. Shut up and play ball.

Also, visa issues and Isaiah Thomas have nothing to do with Schroder missing the team bus on Saturday. The punishment here, after being suspended for the visa issues, was being benched in a loss to the Magic.

What does this mean? In a playoff run, your starting point guard can’t do this. It’s a distraction. The Atlanta Hawks have invested a lot in Schroder, giving him a big contract and the keys to the team as the starting point guard. The Atlanta Hawks will not get graded on the Jeff Teague trade based on the regular season; the Hawks were always a top four team with Teague at the helm, and the grades come out at playoff time. Teague was never “missing” around playoff time off the court.

That’s what I learned…now learn from this!

Kyle Korver makes his triumphant return as Cleveland Cavalier on Friday night. Korver is shooting a robust 52.5-percent from the land of the extra point as a Cav. As a Hawk, Korver was shooting 40.9-percent from three point land.

Next up, your Hawks face the Dallas Mavericks led by Seth Curry in Atlanta. No this is not a typo. There is another Curry in the NBA lighting it up these days.

Ronald Agers