Archives For 2016-17 Season

The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 1 of their best-of-7 series against the Washington Wizards, coming out second-best in an ugly 114-107 encounter at Verizon Center. John Wall led the Washington Wizards with a new playoff-high of 32 points and 14 assists while Bradley Beal added 22 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 25 points.

Turnovers prove costly

From our playoff preview:

Turnovers were a big factor in the regular season-series and whichever team takes care of the ball (and in the process, limits the opposing team’s points off of turnovers) is going to have a huge advantage over the other.

It was indeed a big factor in Game 1 and it was the Wizards who were the ones who took care of the ball while the Hawks were the ones who coughed it up. The Hawks committed 21 total turnovers which led to 23 Washington points. There wasn’t really one specific player who ran up the turnover counter (though Millsap did have four), everyone contributed in that department. The one thing the Wizards love to do is run and get out in transition, and when you fuel them with turnovers they’ll churn out the fast break/turnover points.

Here, Kelly Oubre Jr. gets an arm on a pass from Ersan Ilyasova to Tim Hardaway Jr., and Oubre takes advantage with a dunk in transition.

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In 2015, the Atlanta Hawks met the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semi-finals after both teams knocked off the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors in the first round respectively. The Wizards took Game 1 in Atlanta but an injury to John Wall’s hand marred the victory. Wall would sit out Games 2, 3, and 4 with the injury before returning for Game 5 but clearly wasn’t 100%. The series was tied at 2-2 when Wall returned and the Wizards would go on to drop Games 5 and 6 as the Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While the Hawks celebrated their trip to the Conference Finals, the Wizards were left to wonder what could’ve been had John Wall been healthy. The Wizards believed, had Wall been healthy, they would’ve advanced to the Conference Finals.

“In my opinion, we should’ve won 4-1.”

— Bradley Beal

“You take away Al Horford or Jeff Teague from their team for three games, the series would be totally different. I’m a big key to this team. This team can still do great things without me. Those guys competed and gave themselves a chance to win. But I feel like if I was there we would have had a better opportunity of winning the series and probably could have went up 2-0 on the road like the Toronto series and came home with some momentum, and tried to close these guys out. But everything happens for a reason.”

— John Wall

“Healthy John. That’s all we’re missing. I think if he played all the games, I think we’d still be in the season today. That’s my opinion.”

— Marcin Gortat

And to close out:

“I give them credit. I always give a team credit. I give Atlanta credit. That’s a tremendous team. They’ve been playing like that all year. They’ve been playing great basketball. But whenever you’re playing against me, even if you beat me, I’m a sore loser. They didn’t really beat us.”

— Bradley Beal

“They didn’t really beat us”…

Those quotes came a few days after the Wizards exited the playoffs but I can’t imagine those feelings are much different now. The Wizards’ feelings about the 2015 playoffs are clear.

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Happy ‘Almost-the-playoffs’ to you!

A new episode of This Week in the Hawks is here for your listening pleasure. Topics today basically cover:

  • The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and where the Hawks fit into things and other playoff talk
  • Recap of the Cavs game

Doesn’t sound like much but there’s plenty of things to discuss at this time of the season in those two topics, as you can imagine.

Thanks for listening! Likes/ReTweets are always appreciated.

The Atlanta Hawks completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in NBA history on Sunday afternoon, having trailed by 26 points in the fourth quarter they took the game to overtime where the eventually prevailed 126-125 over the defending NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving (45 points) and LeBron James (32 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) combined for 77 points. Paul Millsap scored 22 points (including the game-tying shot at the end of the fourth quarter) while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points.

In the process, the Hawks also won the season series 3-1.

Standings watch

The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed, holding a game advantage against the Milwaukee Bucks while also owning the tiebreaker over the Bucks. For the Hawks to fall out of the 5-seed now, they would have to lose their final two games (vs. Charlotte and @ Indiana) while the Bucks would have to win their last two games (vs. Charlotte and @ Boston).

With the Washington Wizards now locked into the 4-seed, it seems as though that Wizards-Hawks is going to be the first round matchup we’ll see. A Bucks loss on Monday would all but guarantee (depending on the Indiana Pacers, who sit two games adrift of the Hawks, whose the tiebreaker with the Hawks is yet to be decided) that matchup tonight.

Comeback of comebacks

A giant heading here, sure, why not?

The Hawks came back from a 26 point deficit in the fourth quarter and the Hawks PR Twitter account, postgame, tweeted a whole bunch of great stats surrounding the comeback:

(Those three occasions of coming back from 20-or-more points would be @ Milwaukee back on December 9th, @ Houston on February 2nd and now vs. Cleveland. Of course, the two occurrences of coming back from 20-or-more points in the fourth are those Houston and Cleveland games)

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The Atlanta Hawks shrugged off disappointing losses against the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets with a huge home win against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in a game that held huge playoff implications for both teams. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 35 while Jae Crowder added 24 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 26 points while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks moved back into the fifth seed following the Milwaukee Bucks’ loss against the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks hold the tiebreaker over the Bucks should the two teams finish with equal records. Behind the Hawks, the Bulls and the Pacers sit just 1.5 games back while the Miami Heat sit half a game behind them.

For the Hawks going forward, these next two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers could be make-or-break for their playoff seeding.

Offensive first half carries Hawks to huge win

The Hawks are not a good offensive team. You only need to watch a few of their games this season to figure that out and the numbers would support that belief. They rank 21st in points per game and 28th in offensive rating…you can put two-and-two together.

Last night, however, was one of the Hawks’ best offensive nights in a long time and their 71 point first half arguably one of the best halves the Hawks have put together this season: 71 points on 54% shooting from the field, 50% from behind the arc, 12-of-14 from the free throw line, 15 assists, four turnovers and an offensive rating of 144.4 on a true shooting percentage of 65%.

A pretty decent half, you might say.

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With the regular season winding down rapidly, every remaining game for the Atlanta Hawks is a must-win game. They’re currently locked in a playoff scrap against the Milwaukee Bucks for the 5-seed, with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers just 1.5 games behind the Hawks occupying the 7th, 8th and 9th seeds. Every game is so important. It is essential for the Hawks to avoid those 7 and 8 seeds. They should want absolutely no part of a round one series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could finish 1st or 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

But while the Hawks are furiously engaged in their own playoff race they are set to play a major part in another playoff race — the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are separated by just one game. With three meetings with these two contenders in the last five games of the regular season, no other team in the NBA has more of a say in who claims the top seed in the East than the Hawks do.

And it all starts on Thursday night when the Hawks tackle the Celtics — who are on the second night of a back-to-back having been blown out by the Cavs on Wednesday night — at Philips Arena in another throwback night, donning the Pete Maravich-era jerseys. The season series is tied 1-1 with the both teams winning games in each other’s building. While the Hawks shouldn’t settle a first round series against the Celtics (if that’s what it came to), the Celtics are probably the one team out of Cleveland, Boston and Washington that the Hawks would prefer to face in a round two matchup, should they get there.

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The Atlanta Hawks lost a tightly contested game against the Chicago Bulls in the Windy City on Saturday evening, 104-106. The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler’s 33 points that included two game-winning free throws that put the Bulls in front with 3 seconds left. Rajon Rondo added a season-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 29 points. 

Standings watch

With this loss, the Hawks now occupy the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference, just a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile behind the Hawks, there’s now a three-way tie for the 7-seed with Indiana, Miami and Chicago all knotted up at 37-39.

 

The Hawks have six games remaining. 

Missed opportunity

The first half of this game was a bit of a snoozer. the point guard battle of Rajon Rondo and Dennis Schroder proved to be the only real entertaining aspect of this game. Neither team was playing particularly well. That all changed in the third quarter.

The Bulls ran out to a 10 point lead before the Hawks, behind some of the best basketball they’ve played this season and scored 38 points in the third quarter which was capped off by this buzzer-beating three from Kent Bazemore.

This was part of a 38-18 run that would see the Hawks take a 10 point lead of their own with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter

The Bulls hovered within eight points for the next few minutes but after they came within five, the Hawks reeled off another four unanswered to take a 100-91 lead with 4:54 remaining, leading to a timeout. The Bulls responded with this lovely out-of-the-timeout play that results in a three in the corner from Denzel Valentine that gave the Bulls life. 

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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

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