Archives For Raj Prashad

Hawks lead the series, 3-2

IND(2-3) 97 – 107 (3-2) ATL

Key Performers:

M. Scott (ATL): 17 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast

P. George (IND): 26 pts, 12 reb, 6 Ast, 6 stl


At home, the bench thrives. Or that’s at least how the narrative goes.

The Atlanta Hawks weren’t worried about any stinking narratives Monday night when Mike Scott dropped 17 second-quarter points and the road team took a commanding 3-2 series. lead. This game was much less about Indiana staying close to Atlanta and more about the Hawks squandering opportunity after opportunity. They couldn’t execute much on offense and when they did, the shot simply wouldn’t fall. Well that was the case for three of the four quarters, not including the second.

As a team, the Hawks scored 41 points to Indy’s 19 in the second. Shelvin Mack scored 13 off the bench in that frame alone and Atlanta built a 61-40 lead at the break. The Pacers stormed back in the second half, but couldn’t fight back from the 20-point deficit.

Now, the Hawks have a chance to win their first playoff series since 2010-11, when Atlanta stifled Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: When the Hawks offense was falling apart, Teague kept it above water. Atlanta couldn’t get anything going to start the contest, but the point guard knocked down a few shots early to keep up with the Pacers start. He was one of the Hawks’ six players to finish the night in double-digits points-wise. 7/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap is still the engine pushing this Hawks machine forward. He’s gotten the better of the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West and continued to do the same Monday. Another great all-around game for the forward. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Korver got the 3-ball working Monday and pushed the Hawks with a team-high +21. He hit five triples and nearly recorded a double-double. 8/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll chipped in 15 points, but struggled a bit defensively as Paul George exploded for 26 points. 6/10

Pero Antic: Yet another really bad night for Antic. Couldn’t figure out anything on offense, but had a few solid defensive possessions. 1/10

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RECAP: Hawks 92, Celtics 91

Raj Prashad —  December 31, 2013


BOS(13-18) 91 – 92 (18-14) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 34 pts, 15 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
K. Olynyk (BOS): 21 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast, 2 blk

For much of the afternoon, the Hawks, as a team, couldn’t get anything in the basket. After falling back by 18 points in the second quarter, Atlanta bounced back and used a 30-6 run to fight through the third quarter. Using great defense on a buzzer-beating Jordan Crawford attempt and a strong individual effort from Paul Millsap, the Hawks fought back for a strong win on the road.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Atlanta can’t count on this every night from Millsap, but the forward was fantastic yet again as Al Horford’s replacement. He scored a season-high 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the win. This was just the second 30-point/15-board game of Millsap’s career, but he definitely made it count. 10/10

Jeff Teague: The point guard woke up in the second half, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in the final two quarters alone. He also played fantastic defense on Jordan Crawford, stifling Boston’s point guard for much of the afternoon. 8/10

Elton Brand: Brand looked tired again, unable to keep up with Boston’s bigs in the paint. He had just four points and one rebound in 12 minutes. 4/10

Mike Scott: Coach Bud continues to shuffle Atlanta’s lineups in Horford’s absence, this time pushing Scott in as a starter. The forward responded with a tough shooting night, notching eight points on 12 shots and seven rebounds. It will be interesting to see how much time he will get at the 3-position, something Coach Bud initially didn’t want him to do, going forward. 5/10

Kyle Korver: It took until the fourth quarter, but Korver finally knocked down a three to extend his streak to 101 games with a make from distance. The sharpshooter turned that into a four-point play, drawing a foul and igniting Atlanta’s offense to the win. He never forced the ball, instead making the right passes and looking for better shots for his teammates despite the streak hanging over his head. 7/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Celtics 94, Hawks 87

Raj Prashad —  November 24, 2013


BOS(5-10) 94 – 87 (8-6) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Teague (ATL): 13 pts, 4 reb, 10 ast, 3 stl
J. Crawford (BOS): 24 pts, 3 reb, 10 ast

Atlanta let one slip away when the Boston Celtics outscored the Hawks 30-13, including a 22-4 run, in the fourth quarter to continue the home team’s win-two, lose-one streak. After a fairly even first half, Atlanta stormed out to a 10-point lead to close the third frame. The Hawks saw their lead disappear as their starters sat for the first half of the fourth quarter, and by the time they saw the floor again, Boston’s unit had built enough steam to run away with the streak-snapping win.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: On a night when Horford scored a team-high 18 points on 19 shots and grabbed just seven rebounds, he simply couldn’t do enough to close the game out in the fourth. Boston went with “big” lineups for most of the night, forcing Jared Sullinger or Brandon Bass to match up with Big Al. The continuous physical matchup in the paint seemed to wear down Atlanta’s center over the night and frustrated him with three of his attempts blocked at the rim (two from Sullinger and one from Vitor Faverani). 7/10

Jeff Teague: He forced Jordan Crawford into jump shots until the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end, shooting 3-for-15 on the night. It was a struggle, but Teague tried to get his teammates going by dishing out 10 assists, but his inability to stop Crawford from driving the lane or get any offense going in crunchtime adds to his frustrating night.  7/10

Paul Millsap: The power forward was a stat-filler Saturday night, shooting 50 percent from the field for 12 points, snagging five boards, dishing two assists, two steals and two blocks. He also had a huge dunk on Jared Sullinger that will likely fight for dunk of the year and a chasedown block of Avery Bradley. Millsap also finished with three turnovers and four fouls with the worst +/- on the team (-18). It was one of the glass half full type of nights for the big man. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: You have to love the new and improved camera man, DeMarre Carroll’s play and energy. He was all over the floor, harassing Jeff Green and diving for loose balls. He was a mess on offense though and couldn’t find any semblance of his shooting stroke. 6/10

Kyle Korver: 87 games and we’re still going strong with the streak. Catch-and-Korver is how he’ll be known to me from now on. He had a strong offensive night, scoring nine points, grabbing four boards, three assists and two steals. He couldn’t hold Avery Bradley, who ran through screens and did his best Korver impression from mid-range. 8/10 Continue Reading…

HH Team Preview: Utah Jazz

Raj Prashad —  October 29, 2013

2012-13 Record: 43-39 (9th in West)z-utah

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: Trey Burke (draft), Rudy Gobert (draft), John Lucas III (free agent), Andris Biedrins (trade), Richard Jefferson (trade), Brandon Rush (trade)

Key Losses: Paul Millsap (free agent), Al Jefferson (free agent), Mo Williams (free agent), DeMarre Carroll (free agent), Randy Foye (trade)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 28-54 (14th in West)*

What to Expect: After being right on the cusp of the playoffs in 2013, those in charge decided it’s time to go with the young guys starting in 2014.

They’ll be a much different team and will surely have their growing pains in the new season. Gone are not only Millsap, but Jefferson as well from Utah’s frontcourt. Enes Kanter will step in for Jefferson and much like his predecessor, he’s an offensively skilled big man. Unlike Jefferson, he’s got an outside-in game. He can work the midrange, but he also has the touch to work in the post. Kanter also has the size and technique to attack the glass. Derrick Favors also gives the Jazz a different look on both ends of the court. He’s a 22-year-old, 6-10 forward who can run the floor and finish at the rim. He’s also arguably the best defender on the team. Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 38-44 (8th in East)z-milwaukee

Playoff Result: Lost in First Round

Key Additions:
Caron Butler (trade), O.J. Mayo (free agent), Brandon Knight, (trade) Zaza Pachulia (free agent), Carlos Delfino (free agent), Gary Neal (free agent), Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft), Nate Wolters (draft), Larry Drew (coach)

Key Losses: Brandon Jennings (trade), Monta Ellis (free agent), J.J. Redick (trade), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (trade), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (free agent)

Projected 2013-14 Record: 29-53 (11th in East)*

What to Expect: After making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons last year, Milwaukee has revamped nearly their entire roster.

They did enough over the summer to fight for the eight seed in East (again), but won’t be bad enough to contend for a top draft pick. Milwaukee built depth, but they’ve got no real direction or star power.

The Bucks are building around Larry Sanders as their franchise big, similar to what Milwaukee’s head coach Larry Drew did in Atlanta with Al Horford. They let Jennings, Ellis and Redick walk, then filled their spots with Luke Ridnour, Mayo and Butler. It’s easy to see their scoring will likely take a hit, but Milwaukee should play as a more cohesive team. Drew is the perfect coach for this situation, where it seems that players will likely be interchangeable from the bench to the starting lineup throughout the season to match other teams. Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 24-58 (13th in East)z-cavs

Playoff Result: Missed playoffs

Key Additions: Andrew Bynum (free agent), Jarrett Jack (free agent), Earl Clark (free agent), Anthony Bennett (draft), Sergey Karasev (draft), Mike Brown (coach)

Key Losses: Wayne Ellington (free agent), Omri Casspi (free agent), Marreese Speights (free agent)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 41-41 (8th in East)*

What to Expect: Cleveland had one of the better summers, winning the draft lottery (again) and inking free agent center Andrew Bynum.

They’re a largely unproven team, though. Bynum and Anderson Varejao’s health will be what Cleveland’s season relies on. The Cavs took a chance on Bynum, bringing in the former All-Star big who missed all of last season on a two-year, $24 million deal, with only $6 million guaranteed. Bynum’s bulky knees have caused him to sit out lengthy stretches of the season in the past.

Then, there’s Varejao, who has played a combined 81 games in the past three years. Last season it was blood clots and leg injuries that kept Cleveland’s energy guy sidelined.

Cleveland is also incredibly young, with seven players age 23 or younger. Kyrie Irving is a budding star. Anthony Bennett could fill the gapping hole at small forward as the No. 1 overall selection. Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters add to a very strong core of young talent who will be expected to step their game up as Cleveland fights for it’s first playoff birth post-LeBron. Continue Reading…

HH Team Preview: Boston Celtics

Raj Prashad —  September 13, 2013

2012-13 Record: 41-40 (7th in East)boston-celtics-logo-22

Playoff Result: Lost in First Round

Key Additions: Kelly Olynyk (draft), Gerald Wallace (trade), Kris Humphries (trade), Brad Stevens (coach)

Key Losses: Paul Pierce (trade), Kevin Garnett (trade), Doc Rivers (trade), Jason Terry (trade)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 25-57 (13th in East)*

What to Expect: Boston faces their first year of a full rebuild. Gone are veterans Pierce and Garnett along with former head coach Doc Rivers.

The Celtics face a tough season of growing pains with a young core of developing players and injured stars. Rajon Rondo will be returning from an ACL tear that put him on the shelf midway through last year. Jared Sullinger underwent back surgery days after the team found out about Rondo’s knee. Rookie stud Kelly Olynyk is currently dealing with plantar fasciitis, forcing him to miss playing for the Canadian national team this summer.

This is also a team that struggled mightily on the defensive end with Garnett on the bench. They could rank near the worst in the league, defensively, while they attempt to establish a new identity under Stevens. It will also be interesting to see how the offense develops early on, with Rondo assumingly still recovering from his knee injury. Continue Reading…

Series tied, 2-2

IND(2-2) 91 – 102 (2-2)ATL

Key Performers:
P. George (IND): 21 pts, 12 reb, 2 ast
J. Smith (ATL): 29 pts, 11 reb, 4 ast

Indiana came out playing aggressively on both ends of the court to finish a pretty even first quarter. The Hawks took a 17-point lead into the half, only to watch it disappear behind shooting just 15 percent for the third quarter. Behind Josh Smith and Al Horford’s 17-fourth quarter points, Atlanta hung on to tie the series and send it back to Indiana with a chance to go up 3-2 and close out at home.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Horford got in foul trouble early, which seemed to plague him for most of the night. He did, however, get under David West’s skin yet again, holding the forward to 5-of-14 from the field. After sitting out much of the third quarter, Big Al dominated the fourth with 10 points and eight free throw attempts. 7/10

Josh Smith: One of the more emotional night for Smith led to an up-and-down game. In a supremely efficient first half, Smith had 16 points, six rebounds and played stout defense on Paul George, yet again. A dreadful third quarter in which Smith shot 0-for-6 from the field was just a precursor for his fourth-quarter rebirth. Smith took the game over, scoring seven points, dishing three assists and snagged two rebounds. Smoove’s offensive rebound and dish for a Kyle trey with 2:33 left in the contest, sealed the game. 8/10

Jeff Teague: It was a pretty nonchalant game for Teague, who matched opposing guard George Hill almost point-for-point and assist-for-assist. He held onto the ball throughout the night and knocked down 5-of-6 free throws in the fourth to close out the night. 6/10

Devin Harris: Harris had another game that can only be explained in offensive spurts. He hit a buzzer-beating layup to close the half and knocked down a few shots, but wasn’t anything special. Harris’ defensive tenacity was lacking as he almost allowed a Lance Stephenson triple-double. 5/10

Johan Petro: Petro flew back to Atlanta after the birth of his son today and played 22 quality minutes in which he controlled Roy Hibbert for much of the night and he grabbed eight rebounds. 7/10

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Pacers lead series, 2-1

IND(2-1) 69 – 90 (1-2)ATL

Key Performers:
D. West (IND): 18 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast
A. Horford (ATL): 28 pts, 16 reb, 2 blk

Indiana got out to an 8-1 lead early, but head coach Larry Drew called the first timeout, let the fans back into the game and succeeded in pushing a 42-10 Hawks run to give Atlanta a massive cushion in the second half. The Hawks used transition buckets, physicality in the paint and fantastic perimeter defense on George Hill and Paul George to get back into the series, now trailing just 2-1.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Horford had just six points when David West shoved him to the ground on a fast break, earning a flagrant foul for his trouble. Big Al responded with a massive 26-point, 16-rebound effort as he dominated the paint and led a few transition buckets. Having Horford matched up with West on both ends of floor allowed him the size advantage to work with, leading to a career night. 9.5/10

Josh Smith: It was a heck of an efficient night from Josh on both ends of the court as well. He played excellent defense on George, frustrating the forward whom Atlanta didn’t seem to have an answer for in the first two games of the series. Only three of his 13 attempts came from behind the 3-point arc and he consistently utilized his mismatch in the post over George. 9/10

Jeff Teague: Despite making only 4-of-15 shots, Teague was aggressive from the tip and had spurts of scoring Atlanta needed to push toward the big win. He finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists while turning the ball over only twice. He also played great defense on Hill, cutting off his driving lanes and forcing bad passes. 6/10

Devin Harris: Devin didn’t have a great night for the second consecutive game as he was virtually nonexistent on offense. He played well enough on the other end of the court to where his nonproductive night was matched by Lance Stephenson’s four-point effort. 5/10

Johan Petro: Petro only played 14 minutes, as LD preferred Ivan Johnson over the towering center, but he did have six points and four rebounds in the small chunk of minutes he played. 6/10

He also did this:

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MIL  (37-42) 104 – 109 (44-36) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Smith (ATL): 24 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl
M. Ellis (MIL): 27 pts, 8 reb, 17 ast, 5 stl

With just over a week before the playoffs, Atlanta showed heart battling back from a 19-point deficit. They played collective, team basketball in the second half after a porous defensive effort over the first two quarters. In the win, Atlanta clinched at least the 6 seed in the playoffs and currently hold the 5 seed over the Chicago Bulls.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Smith was tuned in offensively, leading the team with 24 points, but it was his first half defense that he really struggled with. Smith couldn’t stick with Ersan Ilyasova on pick-and-pops, giving up a career-high five treys in the first half and 25 points overall. But in the second half, Smith played fantastic on both ends and showed his ability to defend any position. 8/10

Al Horford: Horford nearly had a 20-20 game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 17 boards. It helped not having Larry Sanders in the lineup as Horford really controlled the glass and the paint. 8.5/10

Kyle Korver: He pushed his 3-pointer streak to 72 games, but had a rather disappointing performance on both ends of the court. Korver had eight points and was decent defensively. 5/10

Devin Harris: Following a dreadful 0-for-7 first half performance, Harris came storming out of the half, scoring 19 in the second half and played a decent night defensively. He played off of Ish Smith for much of the night and went under screens, giving him open looks and couldn’t find Monta Ellis in transition. 6/10

Jeff Teague: You’ve gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to aggressive Jeff Teague. While he shot 10-of-15 from the field and scored 24 points, he did have five turnovers, with four of those coming in the first half. Teague did match up well with Ellis and and dominated JJ Redick up and down the court. The point guard really controlled the pace of the second half and attacked at will for the Hawks. 8/10 Continue Reading…