Archives For Analysis

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second consecutive game against the Orlando Magic in a heartbreaker at Philips Arena — 116-110 in overtime. The loss ties up the season series between the two at 2-2, after the Hawks won the first two fixtures.

A 20 point lead blown

The Hawks started this game off so well — it was the kind of first quarter response you would expected from a team who were beaten the night before on a buzzer beating shot. The Hawks came roaring out of the gate and took the Magic by storm — building up a 20 point lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter. It felt like this was going to be a classic revenge game, but the Magic never gave up. Jason Smith checked into the game and kept the Magic in striking distance, as he knocked down five of his seven shots in the first half for 10 points.

After the Magic had trimmed the Hawks’ lead to 13 by half time, the Hawks quickly stretched the lead back to 18 in the third quarter. But the Magic, once again, refused to to go down without a fight. Nikola Vucevic (who only scored three points in the first half on 1-of-4 shooting) exploded in the third quarter for 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, and the Hawks’ lead heading into the fourth quarter stood at 11 points.

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The Atlanta Hawks completed the series sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers with a 124-86 victory at Wells Fargo Center. The 38 point victory represents the largest Hawks win of the season — the lead reaching as far as 43 points. The win leaves the Hawks tied for the third seed with the Celtics, and seven games above .500 as they start the month of February 2-0 — looking to make up for their lacklustre January.

Combined effort and bench scoring

The Hawks had eight players who scored in double digits and received a fantastic contribution from their bench. Five players off of the bench scored in double digits — Mike Scott and Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 13 points each off the bench. Al Horford and Kyle Korver were the two starters who did not score in double figures, but only took a combined seven shots between them. It looked as though they made an effort to play more as facilitators, and they racked up a combined seven assists.

The Atlanta bench amassed a season high 80 points — 12 coming from Mike Muscala, Thabo Sefolosha, and Dennis Schröder, 13 from Mike Scott and Tim Hardaway Jr., Shelvin Mack scored nine, Lamar Patterson added five, and Edy Tavares rounded off the Hawks bench scoring with four points. The eight players who came off the bench also shot the ball very well — 60%. Only Dennis Schröder shot under 50% off the bench.

Coach Mike Budenholzer praised the bench after the game:

“The bench, more often than not, has been really good for us,” Budenholzer said. “They tend to do it with their defense. They have a real disruptive way about them and it leads to good offense, and our whole team feeds off of that.”

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The Atlanta Hawks kicked off the month of February the right way, as they took care of business on their home floor with a 112-97 victory against the Dallas Mavericks. After their poor display in Miami, the Hawks showed great energy on the second night of this back-to-back, and came out on top with a victory that they desperately needed, after losing five of their last six games.

The Jeff Teague show

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”. Most of you know this quote from the timeless classic that is Forrest Gump, but we’re going to repurpose this quote for our needs. Let’s replace the word “Life” with “The 2015-16 Jeff Teague”, and now you have an accurate representation of Jeff Teague’s season, in quote form. Last night Jeff Teague was the star of the show, pouring out a season-high 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting (including a career high five three-pointers made), eight assists, and five rebounds.

Teague came out of the gates strong, and made an effort to attack in the opening stages — firing a shot (one of his few missed shots) just 19 seconds into the game, and drawing a foul while attempting a layup after a solid drive to the basket following a Millsap screen on D-Will just a few minutes.

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Atlanta’s January nightmare is finally over — but the ending wasn’t pretty. A 105-85 loss against the Miami Heat last night capped off a 6-9 January — a complete contrast to their January of 2015 when they went undefeated, going 17-0. Their latest defeat is their third in a row and their fifth in their last six games.

Offensive struggles continue

Prior to this game the Hawks were averaging just 95 points per game in their last five games — shooting 42.3% from the field and 32.1% from downtown. In the build up to this game Mike Budenholzer stated that is has been Atlanta’s offense that has been the issue of late, but has been happy with the defense:

“Defensively we are playing a lot better. We are doing a lot of things well defensively. I think offensively, I don’t think any of us feel great about how we are playing. It’s a lot of little things. It’s not any one big, glaring thing.”

Despite identifying one culprit of the the Hawks’ recent struggles (the offense), the Hawks’ offensive woes continued last night — scoring just 87 points on 38.6% shooting from the field, and 22.7% from behind the arc. The Hawks were finding themselves in great positions with great shot opportunities — from mid-range shots, open three-point shots, to easy layups, but just couldn’t finish them. This would be one encouragement to takeaway from this game — the Hawks got themselves in good situations but just couldn’t convert their chances on this particular night.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their first game home after their four game road trip in what can only be described as an ugly, 85-83 affair with the L.A. Clippers. It’s a normal occurrence in the NBA for teams who have been on a lengthy road trip to have a let down game in their home return and this was no exception. In this tough loss, what were the takeaways from the first meeting of the season between the Clippers and the Hawks?

Jeff Teague’s haircut

“Handsome young man” – Bob Rathbun.

teague

 

And moving swiftly on…

Lack of bench scoring

The Hawks’ bench made life very difficult for the starters, who essentially had to carry the entire offensive load. The bench scored just 12 points and were outscored by Jamal Crawford by himself, let alone the Clippers’ bench who outscored the Atlanta bench 39-12. Though, it wasn’t that the Hawks bench were outscored by Jamal Crawford by nine points that was concerning — the Hawks bench didn’t register a single point in the second half nor did they register a single free throw attempt in the second half. That’s incredible. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up their four game road trip with a 119-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Having missed the Hawks’ last game in Phoenix, Paul Millsap rejoined the team in the Mile High City as the Hawks finished the road trip on a positive note. Millsap led the charge with 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block, illustrating (if it wasn’t obvious already) why he is arguably the most important player on the Hawks’ roster. This was an important win for the Hawks after the desperately disappointing loss to the 13-31 Phoenix Suns. What were the takeaways from this fixture?

Teague’s improved outing

A lot of people have been quick to criticise Jeff Teague for his inconsistency recently (which, to be fair, has been warranted), but let’s give him credit when he does have a good game. He bounced back from his disappointing outing in Phoenix with a 12 points, 10 assists display against the Nuggets.

One of Teague’s better qualities is his ability to penetrate and draw the attention of the defense. Time and time again last night Teague drew the attention of defense. When the defense began to commit/fully committed to help, Teague would just hand over the ball to the open big man, whether it was Splitter, Horford, Millsap or Mike Scott, who would finish the play. This was one of the contributing reasons as to why the Hawks scored 56 points in the paint. And for the occasions when the ball wasn’t dumped off to a big in the paint, it found its way to the three-point line. On two separate occasions in the second half, in the same corner, Teague connected with Kyle Korver for open three-pointers after Teague drew the attention of Korver’s man. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks’ season can’t have hit much more of a low note after suffering a 98-95 defeat against the Phoenix Suns, who were without Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer, and Ronnie Price. In a classic trap game situation the Suns got the job done, with Archie Goodwin hitting the go-ahead, contested three with 0.1 seconds of the game remaining. The Hawks are now 1-2 on their Western Conference road trip. In a very disappointing loss, what were the takeaways from this game?

The need for a consistent backup center

With Paul Millsap unavailable for this game due to personal reasons, Al Horford slid over to the power forward spot and Tiago Splitter started at center. Millsap has been Atlanta’s best player this season and his production was always going to be sorely missed, as he leads the team in scoring, rebounding, and steals. It was, therefore, important that the Hawks received meaningful production from Splitter, but this never materialized. Splitter only registered two points, three rebounds and a plus-minus rating of minus-13 in just 17 minutes, 11 of which came in the first half.

I’m sorry but he earns nearly $9 million this season. How can you justify having a backup center who can’t even provide 20 minutes or play in crunch time (in a game where rebounding was an issue) when there’s an injury? There was a period in the fourth quarter where Mike Scott played center (while Horford got some rest, eventually playing 38 minutes) and Thabo Sefolosha was the power forward. I love Mike Scott, and he had a good game, but he should NEVER be your center. At all. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks’ fourth quarter comeback fell short against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night as they split the season series with one win apiece, each taking care of business on their home floor. In this long regular season, every game is but a chapter of a long novel that is the NBA season. You have the same main characters who appear in every chapter, but the content of each chapter differs. When we look back upon the chapter of the Atlanta Hawks’ visit to Sleep Train Arena, what are thing main points to take away?

Hawks hosed by bad call late in fourth quarter

Let’s set the scene — There’s 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter and the score is 86-85 in favor of the Kings. The Hawks have just secured a rebound following a DeMarcus Cousins miss. This next possession is obviously very important, as the game is tightly contested. Dennis Schröder dribbles the ball past half court and waits for his teammates to take their positions. Al Horford heads towards the paint and Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore head to their positions on the wings. Schröder gives the ball to Paul Millsap near the elbow. Millsap drives toward the rim and has the ball slapped out of his hands and out of bounds. The call on the floor is Hawks ball with 12 seconds on the shot clock.

However, the officials decided to review, and rightly so. I say “rightly so” because there were less than two minutes remaining, meaning the officials can review the play and consult with the Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J. over any plays they’re unsure about. Replay showed the ball was clearly touched last by Rondo. Millsap doesn’t touch the ball after it is slapped out of his hands. Even the Kings broadcast team, who initially believed it hit Millsap on the knee, conclusively agreed, “that’s going to be Atlanta ball.” Continue Reading…

With the Hawks crossing the halfway point of their 82 game regular season, it is time to look back at some of the successes and failures of the team.

The team’s record sits at 24-17 prior to Monday’s match against the Orlando Magic, on pace for 48 wins for you math majors. This would be a 12-win drop off from last year despite only a couple of roster changes during the offseason. It was common thought that the Hawks wouldn’t be able to match their performance from a season ago given natural regression. The first half of the season has only proved that line of thinking correct. Still, the team has a real shot at a top two seed in the Eastern Conference and will look to enter the playoffs in better shape this time around.

Let’s dive right into what has gone right early in the 2015-16 season.

The Positives:

Kent Bazemore

By now you’ve heard Baze’s story. A four year player at Old Dominion, Kent went undrafted in 2012 and has had to fight for playing time in the Association. James Herbert of CBS Sports recently detailed his early struggles and his improvement since becoming a Hawk in 2014. 

Kent shot 32.7% from three in sporadic time over his first two seasons in the NBA with the Warriors and Lakers. Last season, he shot 36.4% from long range. This year? A brilliant 41.9%. Kent credits a revamped shooting stroke and it has showed in his results. But he has also elevated his game in other ways.

Kent is playing the most minutes of his career at over 28 a game and has responded with double digit scoring for the first time as well. He is fourth on the team in points per game (12.8) and third in True Shooting Percentage (59.2%). In addition, he has turned into a real pesky defender with a 0.4 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DPM) and over a steal per game.

Long regarded as just a slasher with monster hops, the man from Kelford, North Carolina has refined his game into a well-rounder contributor. Baze was once only known for his bench celebrations, but now his electrifying play between the baselines is causing others to go wild from the sideline. It was only a few months ago when questions surfaced about the team’s ability to replace DeMarre Carroll. Well, I’d say the Hawks have found their replacement plus some.

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I’m happy to present a guest column from Irish NBA writer Graham Chapple — BG

As the regular season has gone from its early beginnings to its halfway point, teams are now more aware of their strengths and weaknesses — and how they rank among the competition — than they were at the beginning of the season. Some teams realize that their front court is too crowded, their bench isn’t giving them the lift they require or that almost nothing is working. For all such teams there is the trade season when teams can flip their surplus assets for something that can be of benefit, whether it’s right now (an established player) or for the future (a young player or draft pick).

Teams like the New York Knicks, Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets are examples of teams who could really use a point guard to stabilize the position. Fans have taken notice of their teams’ weakness, prompting them to fantasize about potential trades for a quality point guard. One particular point guard that fans are yearning for is third-year German point guard Dennis Schröder.

And why wouldn’t they? Dennis is a talented young point guard who has starter potential. He’s lightning quick, with the ability to collapse the defense on drives to the rim. He can also pass and defend. If he improves as a finisher and develops even an average 3-point shot, he’ll be a very solid point guard for any team whether it’s in a starting or bench role. Continue Reading…