Archives For 2014-15 Season

The way the Hawks played at the end of Game 3 against the Wizards was a breath of fresh air. There was defensive activity, ball movement, and open shots that actually went it.

Of course, this was not from the Hawks’ starters. This was Mike Muscala, Mike Scott, Dennis Schröder, and Shelvin Mack finally playing the way that the fans were accustomed to in the regular season. These players fought back from 20 points down to tie the game. Of course, the Hawks wound up with a loss, but the effort and revitalization of the bench was a welcome sight for Atlanta fans.

On Monday night, it’s time for the fans to see that effort from the starting unit.

In the first-round series against Brooklyn, the problem with the Hawks is that the bench unit was awful, save for Pero Antic. This somewhat carried over in the start of the series against the Wizards, forcing Mike Budenholzer to shorten his bench rotation as much as possible. However, the Hawks’ starters — except for DeMarre Carroll — have also had a problem for the nine games they have played so far in the playoffs: they have not made shots.

Jeff Teague’s true-shooting percentage in the playoffs? 46.0%, down from 56.6% in the regular season, a difference of 10.6%. Kyle Korver? 58.9%, which is still good, but it is down from 69.9% in the regular season. Paul Millsap? 50.4% in the playoffs, 56.5% in the regular season. And Al Horford? 49.2% in the postseason compared to 56.3% in the regular season. Continue Reading…

John Wall may be out, but the Wizards still had enough to hold off the Hawks on Saturday, beating the Hawks 103-101. The Hawks rallied back from 21 down to tie the game with 13 seconds left, but still fell victim to Washington. Here’s how it happened.

1. Paul Pierce still has it
Okay, he doesn’t always have it. He shot 5-for-12 from the field including 3-for-7 from 3, but in the deciding moment he scored the biggest two of his 13 points. Pierce in his 17th season saw that he would be guarded by Dennis Schroder and knew he would take the 21-foot game winning shot as the buzzer sounded. The veteran of many playoff battles also still has his quick wit, too. When Pierce told that Schroder called his bucket “lucky”, he game a wry smile and responded only as he can.

“He’s a little young, barely in his second year; of course he’s going to say that,” Pierce said. “He’s hasn’t been around long enough and probably missed with me in NBA 2K.”

Whenever Pierce decides to retire, he’ll be missed by the entire NBA community.

2. The wait for the Hawks to have a performance reminiscent to their regular season is becoming as long as the wait for Doctor Dre to drop Detox
Paul Millsap didn’t start the game due to flu-like symptoms, and it appeared the rest of the starting lineup caught whatever he had, because they all looked sluggish. Hawks got out to yet another lethargic start and didn’t seem like a very confident team after the game. DeMarre Carroll, who prior to the Game 3 defeat had been the Hawks best player in the playoffs, only saw the court for two seconds in the fourth quarter. That’s troubling enough, but his response was to why he wasn’t in on the last possession was even more puzzling: Continue Reading…

The Hawks took care of business at home 106-90 against the Washington Wizards to even up their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at a game apiece. Washington’s John Wall was a late scratch just 60 minutes before tipoff, providing a good opportunity for Atlanta to get a vital win before the series shifts to Washington. Both Coach Budenholzer and DeMarre Carroll said after the game that the defensive plan did not change as a result of Wall’s absence, but it’s hard to believe that Jeff Teague ends up with a playoff-career-high seven rebounds if he has to contend with the taller and more athletic John Wall.

Ramon Sessions stepped up for the Wizards in Wall’s absence and played a fine game, shooting 8-for-14 for 21 points. Teague had a difficult time shooting against Washington, but contributed well in other areas of the game with the seven rebounds and eight assists. As a team, the Hawks totaled 30 assists on 37 made baskets, a byproduct of the perimeter players being able to get in the paint and find open shooters spacing the floor. Atlanta’s aggressiveness paid off in other ways; the Hawks got to the free throw line 25 times and forced Washington’s Marcin Gortat out of the game with six fouls in the fourth quarter. “We were attacking the goal this game; I think that was big for us,” Carroll said after the game. Continue Reading…

The Wizards had nearly an entire week to prepare for the second round after they had swept the Toronto Raptors.

The Hawks had little more than a day.

After finishing off the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, the Hawks had a quick turnaround to face off against the Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon. The result was rather unsurprising: the Hawks looked great early, but appeared to be out of gas by the fourth quarter. Everyone on the Hawks was missing open jumpers, they were moving less on offense, and the defense was a step slow in completing rotations. Because of this, the Hawks’ 10-point halftime lead turned into a 104-98 loss.

After posting over 50% shooting in the first half, the Hawks put up a dread 13-for-52 (25%) in the second half. DeMarre Carroll, who scored 21 points in the first half, only made one bucket in the final 24 minutes. Kyle Korver was 2-for-9 on mostly open 3-pointers in the second half. The shooting was so bad that Al Horford’s 4-for-12 (33%) second half shooting was the best performance by any Atlanta player in the second half. Continue Reading…

The games in the Atlanta Hawks’ series against the Brooklyn Nets have all had a similar story. The Hawks would take an early lead with their starting unit, then Brooklyn would cut into that lead with their bench, make the game close by halftime, and then threaten to take the lead for the remainder of the game.

Game 6 of the series looked like it was going to continue following that formula. The Hawks jumped out to a massive early advantage, making 13 of their first 18 shots to create a 36-23 lead after 12 minutes of play. However, the Hawks’ shooting then went cold and Joe Johnson was able to pull the Nets back within six by the halftime buzzer, with the Hawks’ lead down to just 51-45.

However, in the third quarter, the 60-win Hawks finally arrived to the series.

The Hawks scored 41 points in the third quarter, with Paul Millsap leading the pack with 11. The ball movement was crisp and the shots were crisper, as Atlanta saw 16 (15 assisted) of their 24 shot attempts in the quarter go through the bottom of the net. The Hawks absolutely blew the doors off of the Nets with a 23-3 run to open the period and finally sealing the series by a count of four to two. Continue Reading…

The Hawks started hot and staved off another Nets comeback in Game 5 at Philips Arena on Wednesday night. Coach Budenholzer implied in the time leading up to the game that the players were raring to go, and they showed it. Atlanta led 33-16 after one quarter, but the Nets pulled within two with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter before the Hawks put together a 10-2 run to close out the game and take a 3-2 lead in the series. Jeff Teague had a hand in eight of the Hawks’ final ten points, assisting on an Al Horford jumper and scoring six straight to put the Nets away.

DeMarre Carroll led all players in scoring with 24 in a game that saw each of Atlanta’s starters play at least 34 minutes and virtually all of the fourth quarter. “Coach came to us each individually and told us we were probably going to pick up some more minutes,” Carroll said after the game. The shortened rotation is something that Budenholzer will use going forward, as most coaches do in the playoffs. Mike Scott has fallen out of favor recently and played just over two minutes in this game as Budenholzer opted for a three-man rotation at the power forward and center positions. Pero Antic played almost 18 minutes and provided some much needed defense and rebounding against Brook Lopez. Continue Reading…

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has won NBA Coach of the Year, winning the award with 67 first-place votes on his way to 513 points. Golden State’s Steve Kerr finished just behind Budenholzer with 56 first-place votes and 471 points. Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks finished a distant third with 1 first-place vote and 57 points.

The race between Budenholzer and Kerr has been too close to call all season, but the voters elected to go with Budenholzer after the Hawks’ franchise-record-breaking season that saw them win 60 games, including a perfect 17-0 in the month of January. The Hawks improved by 22 games over their 2013-14 record, the second largest jump in the league behind Kidd’s Bucks.

Coach Budenholzer has been with Atlanta for two seasons after 19 years under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

Full voting results are below, courtesy of Hawks.com.

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In the past few years, the Hawks have often not had much in terms of expectations for the playoffs. In those years, a win in Game 1 would have usually been seen as a huge victory.

On Sunday, the Hawks’ 99-92 Game 1 win over the Brooklyn Nets left something to be desired.

The 1-seed Hawks — with 60 wins and the status as the overwhelming favorite — got off to a strong start, outscoring the Nets 32-20 in the first quarter. The Hawks took advantage of six Brooklyn turnovers and were using them to create open looks on offense. This continued into the beginning of the second quarter, as the Hawks increased their lead up to 16 points and appeared to be well on their way to blowing out their opponent.

However, the Nets stopped turning the ball over and ramped up their defensive effort to start putting pressure on the Hawks. “We had turnovers early, but we finally cut down on our turnovers and figured out how to execute and score,” said Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. “We got ourselves back close in the game.” Continue Reading…

The 2014-15 regular season is over.

Just last year, the Hawks were fighting until the end of the season to secure a playoff berth and sneak into the postseason as the 8-seed in the East.

How things have changed in 365 days. The Hawks — having already secured the 1-seed in the East with 60 wins — have been taking things lightly for a while now, prepping their stars for rest in hopes of a deep playoff run. That rest included Wednesday night’s game against the Bulls, even though all five regular Hawks starters played at least 20 minutes. But when the fourth quarter started and no Atlanta starter was to be found on the court, the message from the team was clear:

The Hawks have bigger battles to fight soon and a 91-85 loss to the Bulls at the end of the regular season will have very little meaning in May and June. Continue Reading…

It is amazing how times have changed.

On November 7, the Hawks fell to 1-3 on the season in a loss to the Hornets in overtime. You may remember that Lance Stephenson hit a banked, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win that game for Charlotte. That loss certainly left a bad taste in the mouth of many Hawks fans and left some wondering if this team’s playoff hopes were not as good as previously perceived

Fast-forward five months and the Hawks are the 1-seed in the East, raising banners for their Southeast Division title, and have 60 wins under their belt after controlling the Hornets in a 104-80 win on Friday night.

Once again, the star of the game for the Hawks was Mike Muscala filling in for the injured Paul Millsap. Muscala was 8-for-9 from the field with 17 points, good enough for the third game of 15 or more points over his last seven contests. The development of Muscala over the past several weeks has been a revelation for the Hawks, as Muscala gives Atlanta yet another capable rotation big to fall back on. Continue Reading…