Archives For Atlanta Hawks

During Game 1, Celtics guard Avery Bradley suffered a hamstring injury mid-way through the fourth quarter. He tried to walk off the court by himself but was unable to do so, needing help to get back the Celtics dressing room.

The diagnosis, as given by head coach Brad Stevens, the following day was the one Celtic fans feared — Bradley is doubtful for the remainder of the series.

“The update on Avery is Avery has a pretty significant strained hamstring. I would say would be doubtful for any of the remainder of the series, certainly very unlikely Tuesday night (for Game 2). As of right now I would say he’s out Tuesday night, but obviously he’ll continue to get treatment around the clock and go from there. So I would say very unlikely the rest of the series.” — Coach Brad Stevens

Devastating news for the Celtics, but what does it mean for the series going forward?

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Clinching the 3-seed is unquestionably a present goal for the Atlanta Hawks, but performances like tonight against a high caliber opponent like the Boston Celtics is more paramount heading into postseason.

“The most important thing for us is to keep winning and playing well,” said Al Horford. “That’s the most important thing.”

Atlanta’s defense was at the top of Budenholzer’s list for most important adjustment to make at the half. The Hawks’ defensive coverages, mainly its ability to guard the 3-point line, were a tad bit late and against a team that moves the ball as well as Boston, that leads to them shooting 59% from downtown and scoring 71 points in just 24 minutes.

“We were just making mental mistakes, so many mental mistakes on the defensive end of the floor,” said Kyle Korver. “Against a good team, you cant make those mistakes. You cant just try and run the coverage, you have to be great.”

In the second half, they looked great, lead by Paul Millsap’s energy — 17 of his 31 points came in the 2nd half — and a collective defensive conscious to make life just a little harder on Boston. One thing about these Hawks is that they always seem to find a way to make adjustments without sacrificing their identity in the process. They came out with mindset to force more ball pressure on pick and rolls at the top, but to never over-extend too much, leading to mismatch after mismatch. This is what repeatedly occurred in the first half.

That began with the head of the snake, All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who shot just 2-for-12 from the field in the second half along with three turnovers. They then made a valiant effort on reacting much sooner within their coverages on the 3-point line in order to limit or contest the Celtics attempts from the three point line. (just 1-for-11 in the second half)

Coach Budenholzer later spoke about the success of these adjustments.

“Sometimes there are subtle changes, every teams does different things -o pick and rolls — you try to have a few things that you can use. To be honest with you, we looked at some clips at halftime. There was basic breakdowns, and there was some shot-making. I think we thought we could reduce our mistakes and not give some open looks and opportunities.” Continue Reading…

No matter the record or seeding, some teams just give you a tough time.

For Atlanta, that has been the Milwaukee Bucks so far this season after defeating them three out of the four meetings last year. But this year has been a different story, as the Bucks have defeated Atlanta twice with both games defeats ending in overtime. This matchup has a boxing match feel to it, two contrasting styles, Rocky versus Drago.

This one ended with Atlanta’s arm being raised up last winning 101-90, capturing their first win over the Bucks this season.

“At the end of the day they are in the top two or three, if not the best at scoring in the paint,”said Coach Mike Budenholzer. “We wanted to do everything we could to take that away.”

Hawks only trailed momentarily in the first couple minutes of the game, but never did thereafter despite not shooting the ball well — 42.3% from the field and 15.6% from 3 — because of yet another strong defensive effort. Milwaukee’s length and athleticism are the main reasons the Hawks have such a difficult time running their offense. The Bucks decided this game to place more emphasis on the Hawks 3-point attempts, which meant more opportunities inside for Atlanta. They were able to capitalize, scoring 58 points in the paint.

On defense, Atlanta decided to pack the paint and limit the longer Bucks from points in the paint. Games like is just another testament to the Atlanta’s ability to win in a variety of ways, which will come in handy in late April or May. This time instead of their usual emphasis on aggressively guarding perimeter players, they showed the ability to clog the paint and still be effective.

“This is a team that has given us problems over the last couple years,” said Kyle Korver post-game. “They are a tough team for us to play against. We wanted to protect the paint and force them to shoot from the outside. It is important for us to grind games out against a team thats big when we are not shooting the ball that well.” Continue Reading…

Last night was the completion of a full circle for Tim Hardaway Jr. as an Atlanta Hawk. With Kent Bazemore forced to sit out with a knee injury against the Denver Nuggets last night, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer called upon Tim Hardaway Jr. to fill in for the injured Bazemore — Hardaway’s first game as a starter for the Atlanta Hawks.

It’s been a long journey for Hardaway to reach this point – an arduous and challenging journey. To understand just how far he has come, we must backtrack.

Hardaway was acquired by the Hawks on draft night 2015 in a deal that sent to Kelly Oubre (No.15 pick) to Washington, and Jerian Grant (No.19 pick) to New York.

The dominos were, seemingly, lined up so that Hardaway would be put in a position to contribute right away.

DeMarre Carroll left for Toronto in free agency, while Atlanta’s other wing players – Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha – both sustained season ending injuries and would not be pushed too hard at the beginning of the season (both would sit out at least one game of a back-to-back sled).

This, added to the fact that the Hawks gave up a very decent pick at 15 – a pick they could’ve easily addressed their rebounding issues with Bobby Portis, perimeter shooting in Sam Dekker, or perimeter defending in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – to acquire Hardaway, so you would imagine the Hawks would have plans to play him right out of the gates.

All the signs pointed toward such an eventuality – but Coach Bud had other plans…

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The Hawks (38-29) might be peaking at just the right time, and there’s an obvious springboard for this late surge. Only 1.5 games separate the Hawks from a top three seed in the East, despite several hot Eastern Conference teams, and there’s a growing sense the team can get there by mid-April.

How is this possible? In a season that has seen a lot of regression from last year’s soaring highs, there has been one area that Atlanta has exceeded all expectations.

Maybe you’ve heard now, but the Atlanta Hawks defense has been good. Really really good. As of writing this, the Hawks are second in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 98.6 per the NBA’s stats, behind only the historically great San Antonio Spurs defense. They have maintained this level of play even as their offense struggles to regain last season’s identity and injuries have forced mid-season transactions, hitting the reset button on some of the continuity the team had built up.

Coming off a fresh 104-75 beatdown of a Pacers team that had been on a three game winning streak, the Hawks have helped cement their identity as a meticulous defensive stonewall less than a month before the ultimate test.

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Similar to the first meeting back in January, the lowly Bucks gave the Hawks all they had and then some.

Atlanta weathered the storm, came back, took the lead, but eventually fell in double OT 117-109. It’s the third straight loss at home, which has not happened since 2004.

“Anytime the game goes two overtimes, there are opportunities for both teams. In the second overtime, they got a little separation, a couple baskets we were not able to score. Our execution could be better in some situations, including at the end of games.”

So much buzz surrounded the team over the break about the futures of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder, back-to-back losses like these only bring on more questions and frustration. The offense is a little out of sync, piling up 21 turnovers versus Miami on Friday and shooting just 44% from the field against Milwaukee.

“It’s very disappointing,” Horford, who ended with 17 points and nine rebounds, said postgame. “We have nice homestand here. This is not the way we pictured it going. We are really in a hole right now.” Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks (30-23) fell to the Orlando Magic (22-28) behind yet another buzzer beater. It was their tenth in a row in this situation, per Jaryd Wilson of the Atlanta Hawks. The last second shot from Nikola Vucevic quelled a furious comeback attempt for the Hawks in a game in which the team was fighting uphill almost the entire way.

The Magic came in reeling, having lost 15 of their last 17 games and 11 of their last 12. The Hawks were riding high off of three straight victories and have chance to go into the All-Star break with some confidence.

Tobias Harris and C.J. Watson sat out with a mild ankle sprain and a sore calf respectively. On the other side, Tiago Splitter missed his fourth straight game with a hip injury for the Hawks and has been ruled out until after the All-Star break. It left the team with one less big body to bang with Vucevic, the talented big man from Montenegro. As a result, Nikola finished with 22 points and eight rebounds to go along with the victory.

Jeff Teague powered the Hawks behind 24 big points on 17 shots in 34 minutes with five assists to boot. Kent Bazemore came alive late with 23 points and eight rebounds. Atlanta had to lean on its long range shooting, as the team shot a paltry 22-of-63 (34.9%) from two point land compared to 13-of-28 (46.4%) from beyond the arc.

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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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Paul Millsap scored his 10,000th career point and finished with 21 points, six rebounds, three assist as Atlanta defeated the Brooklyn Nets 114-86.  Dennis Schroder recorded his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 assist leading the bench that outscored Brooklyn’s 53-31. Thaddeus Young was Brooklyn’s leading scorer with 18 points shooting 8-12 from the field. On the second game of a back to back it is important to spread out minutes and Coach Budenholzer was able to do so in a winning effort.

“Good effort by our group. I think a lot of guys played well. The bench was really good for us, said Coach Budenholzer. The first half was a little bit back and forth. We got some cushion. They threw a punch to start the third quarter. It was good to see us take that and extend the lead. A lot of different guys played well. A little different combinations tonight, so it was good to see different guys in a little bit different situations play well”

Atlanta shot the ball well in the first half, shooting 50% in the first quarter and 60% in the second quarter. Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 10 points apiece, while Georgia Tech’s Thaddeus Young led Brooklyn with 14 followed by Wayne Ellington with nine. Once Thabo Sefolosha, Dennis Schroder and the rest of the bench were inserted into the game late in the first quarter and to start the second, the defense picked up and the Hawks were able to pull away to a 44-32 lead with 7:12 remaining in the 2nd quarter. However, a couple fouls by Atlanta, threes from Joe Johnson and Brooklyn were able to cut the lead to just seven as the half ended. Continue Reading…

The surging Atlanta Hawks meet the slumping New York Knicks this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Atlanta enters Sunday’s showdown with a 2-0 mark against New York this season.

The last time these teams met, the Hawks used a dominant second-half performance to prevail, 117-98. Paul Millsap was the high man for Atlanta with 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. The Hawks outscored the Knicks 27-12 in the third period — and 57-35 in the final 24 minutes — for the team’s 20th win.

Mired in a 1-5 skid, New York dropped its last outing in embarrassing fashion to the streaking Chicago Bulls. Down big early, New York came storming back to make things competitive. However, the Knicks faltered in the fourth-quarter, shooting just 17-of-19 from the field overall whilst being outscored 31-8. Ultimately, Chicago handed New York its 19th loss on the season.

Conversely, Atlanta overcame a 19-point deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets 121-115 on Dec. 29. The Hawks were a second-half team in that performance as well, outscoring Houston 36-23 in the deciding fourth quarter to snap Houston’s modest 3-game winning streak. Four Atlanta Hawks starters scored 20-plus points in that contest with Al Horford registering a season-high 30. Continue Reading…