Archives For Atlanta Hawks

As you read this article, understand that this is coming from a contributor that covered the Brooklyn Nets for the last two seasons for the TrueHoop Network…

The Atlanta Hawks at this point…STINK! Unapologetically, literally and figuratively.

The Hawks at this point are moonwalking their way into the playoffs and are in danger of dropping to the sixth spot, being passed by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Atlanta Hawks lost to the lowly Brooklyn Nets 107-92 at home marking their season high seven game losing streak. The Hawks were without three starters which included Paul Millsap, who the Hawks desperately need in the playoffs. No check that, the Hawks may need him to win a game at this point. For a more politically correct recap of this game, please check out Graham Chapple’s follow up on HawksHoop.com. It will be informative, but he is very polite in describing Atlanta’s play.

I can’t say the same in my…

Three lessons

Lesson Number One: How do the Atlanta Hawks get beat down by these guys?

The Brooklyn Nets are the worst team in the NBA. Period. Point blank. The fact that they beat the New York Knicks twice in a week brings the franchise a sense of joy of accomplishment this year. Trust me. The Nets started the season at rock bottom (Surprise! They’re still there!) and have struggled at every aspect including holding any leads. That issue is exacerbated on the road. They almost blew it again with the Hawks cutting a 22 point lead to five in the second half…

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Think back to the year 1997. Seems like a long time huh? Were you alive? Were you in school? Maybe you were a little baby crying in the crib. Well that’s the last time the Atlanta Hawks franchise walked in an arena and beat the San Antonio Spurs on the road. You see it’s been so long the since the Spurs lost to the Hawks, they played in the old Alamo Dome.

This span extended to 19 straight games on Monday night as the San Antonio Spurs tied the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA beating the Hawks 107-99. The two teams are now 52-14 with sixteen games remaining.

Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder had 22 points and 10 assists to lead Atlanta, while Tim Hardaway Jr. continued his solid play with 17 points. Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore combined for 31 points, but had only five rebounds between them. The loss snapped Atlanta’s three game winning streak.

Kawhi Leonard made his triumphant return from a concussion scoring 31 points for a Spurs team that were uncharacteristically sloppy at times during the game. They had a season high 23 turnovers, missed shots they usually make and looked out of sorts at times. Normally a performance like this would incite anger from Head Coach Gregg Popovich. Continue Reading…

This game symbolized the best of times and the worst of times. Atlanta for right now is enjoying the best of times these days and Memphis is stuck in the worst. The Hawks jumped out to an early lead in the early frame and it was all she wrote from there. The Atlanta Hawks went to Tennessee and turned the Grindhouse into a vacation spot dominating the Memphis Grizzlies 107-90. The struggling Hawks defense of late, who was without Dwight Howard,  being held out for rest held Memphis to 37.8% from the field. For a complete recap of the game, check out Graham Chapple on HawksHoop.com. As always, it is a thorough and informative read.

The Hawks were led by, you guessed it, Dennis Schroder. But not on the offensive end; on this night it was on the defensive end. Schroder locked in on Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and made him work all night long. The rest of his teammates followed his cues and dominated the game start to finish. It’s the start to my…

Three Lessons

Lesson number one: Oh, the Atlanta Hawks have a bench now?

Breaking news to HawksHoop! The Atlanta Hawks have bench scoring for a change. Even more amazing, a bench player led the team in scoring! Hawks rookie Taurean Prince led the team in scoring with 17 points. Not Dennis Schroder, not Paul Millsap, but Taurean Prince. Prince had set his career high by the end of the first quarter with 12 and went on knock down five of his six shots. Prince knocked down three of four three pointers, hit all of his four free throws, grabbed three rebounds, dropped two dimes, had a couple of steals and a block. Quite a mouthful huh? Jose Calderon scored 14 points in 19 minutes (this was a bad night for the Grizzlies folks!) to lead the consistent production from the bench all night. The is not the bench mob, but for one night it’s not Tim Hardaway Jr. show by himself.

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President Trump’s first term has brought forth one of the most divisive times in both our country’s history and our personal relationships. Professional basketball players, like the rest of us, have been affected no differently. Back in November, Kent Bazemore expressed his “excitement” for Trump in the aftermath of his election and later, in February, Sporting News reported that Bazemore believed that Trump was an “asset” for this country. His close friend and Under Armour colleague Stephen Curry disagrees, but was pragmatic when asked about his and Bazemore’s relationship after Monday’s 119–111 Warrior victory over the Hawks.

“I don’t think you need to keep [politics] out of a friendship,” Curry said. “You accept people for what they believe in whether if you believe it or not.”

Head coach Steve Kerr can also relate with Bazemore and Curry on having close buddies that don’t completely concur with their political point of view. Kerr hasn’t been shy this season when it comes to expressing his disdain for the president. But, he feels that people should be open to contrasting opinions because freedom of expression is essential to our democracy.

“I got lots of friends that disagree with me politically and I have no problem with that,” Kerr said. “it’s part of our democracy and everybody can take their stance. That is their opinion, we respect it, we debate and we hash things out. That’s the way it should be.”

Back in November, Bazemore spoke with me, post-election, about the importance of supporting the new commander-in-chief.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. “But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit. Make America great again is his slogan and as a President, we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assumes the position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

Following the Bazemore’s and Curry’s sixth matchup of their careers — Curry the winner of five of them — the former chatted with Dell and Sonya Curry outside the visitor locker room as other family and friends waited for Steph to finish up his postgame media obligations. Once completed, the two greeted one another with smiles and laughter. The pleasantries exchanged reflected their relationship — devoid of the political divide that has soiled so many relationships since that fateful Nov. 8 day.

“Our friendship goes way beyond basketball or politics,” Bazemore said. “We have a very special bond, but we aren’t siamese twins or anything. We both have a way of living life.”

Curry has no fundamental issue with having a close friend that takes an opposing side in the political arena, as long as that individual can articulate his or her thoughts logically and within reason.

“As long as you stand by it and have a reason for it or what not,” Curry said. “That doesn’t change my perspective on who a person is.”

Bazemore, too, was coy, yet candid about the potential divisiveness politics have taken on his life, but concurred with Curry’s perspective of acceptance, regardless of beliefs.

“Circumstance or whatever you want to throw out there may shape our opinions on certain things,” Bazemore said. “But it doesn’t change the state of our friendship or anything. It’s life, you are not going to be on the same page with all of your friends, but what’s understood doesn’t have to be said — that’s my guy all the way until the end”.

 

Avery Yang Contributed Reporting

The Atlanta Hawks accomplished a very important task starting a interesting journey to the playoffs. After beating the Brooklyn Nets in an overall very lackluster performance (outside of Dennis Schroder), the Hawks finished a disappointing home stand with a 105-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

With the win, the Hawks finished with a 3-3 record and possibly avoiding a potential collapse in the locker room and playoff race to end the season. Atlanta took the season series from the Raptors 2-1 and now own the tie-breaker if the two teams end the season with the same record to determine a playoff position. As always for a total recap of the game, please check out Graham Chapple’s piece on the game on HawksHoop.com. As always, it is a informative and thorough read. With Atlanta in the five slot and chasing Toronto in the fourth spot. THIS GAME WAS HUGE! This could be the start of something here folks.

Dennis Schroder scored 26 points, including 13 points in winning time to lead the Hawks. This has been a massive turnaround from the benching earlier on in the week. I have to admit, I thought this was a major issue (I think it may come back at playoff time but who knows?) but Schroder has done an outstanding job as of late of “walking the walk” and putting the situation behind him. A lot of times players and coaches say everything is okay for the cameras and reporters, but for now, it’s happening before our eyes. Paul Millsap had 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 20.

DeMar DeRozan finished with 28 points but he shot 12-for-30 to get those points including 1-for-8 from 3-point land. Serge Ibaka had 18 points for the Raptors.

Looking at this potential first round matchup, I learned a lot, but here are my most important…

Three Lessons

Lesson number one: Boy!!! Dennis Schroder is BALLIN!!!!

Like Jim Jones style…Schroder fly high…no lie…like show biz…BALLIN! The magic number for the Atlanta Hawks when it comes to Dennis Schroder is 25. When he scores more than 25 points in a game, the Hawks have lost only once this season. It bears repeating here, when the Hawks need a basket, Dennis can create offense for his teammates and himself. This was very evident in the fourth quarter when the game was close at 86 apiece.

This is where Schroder took over scoring two baskets in a row and eight of the next ten points to give the Hawks a 96-88 lead. Also read…The Raptors could not stop the Atlanta point guard in crunch time. Throw in six rebounds and five assists, Schroder played an efficient and strong floor game. This is what the Hawks envisioned giving him the keys to the franchise.

Dwane Casey called the struggle a “tough stretch defensively”

More thoughts from Casey, via ESPN.com:

“I thought, other than that, we were competing,”

How about Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer’s take on Schroder’s play…

“Dennis has the ball in his hands a lot of times in the fourth quarter  making decisions, making a good play,” Budenholzer said. “I think it was him offensively then our defense giving us that little bit of separation.”

The wonderful thing about the aggressiveness of Schroder is being able to break down the defense and disrupt the Raptors down the stretch. It seemed to Schroder could get to the paint at will.

Budenholzer’s take on that…

“He collapses the defense”…”He creates offensive rebounding opportunities. At some point, they start switching. Paul drives to the basket and gets the fifth foul on Ibaka after a switch. That’s a tough cover for a point guard covering Paul. I think there a lot of things between Paul and Dennis that they create good things for us.”

Speaking of Paul Millsap…

Lesson number two: Paul Millsap is a MAN!

The Toronto game marked the fifth game that Millsap topped the 20 point plateau. In various NBA circles it has been mentioned that Paul Millsap is one of the most underrated players in the league. In an era where numbers are considered the blueprint of how good players are, Millsap averages around 18 points a game but is a dominant dynamic to the Hawks…

Thabo Sefolosha’s take on Millsap’s importance, via ESPN.com:

“The whole team, we look to him a lot,” Sefolosha said. “He does a lot of things. He can score. He can pass the ball. He’s definitely our go-to-guy. He’s feeling good and he’s doing everything for us out there.”

What you see with Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs is what you get with Paul Millsap in Atlanta. I love the way he goes out and quietly puts in work. The numbers are not as gaudy, but just as important to the Hawks. Millsap is not the guy that is concerned about his “brand”. He’s concerned about being a professional NBA player that goes out and helps his team the best way he knows how. This is not limited to on the court play. He is a key locker room guy that the Hawks need for leadership. This was never more evident than this week, when he spent time on the phone with Dennis Schroder giving advice on moving forward with the benching incident against the Warriors. Since then, Schroder and the Hawks have been on a roll.

Lesson three: Dwight Howard was very active and engaged.

Maybe it was Shaquille O’Neal at courtside looking for Shaqtin A Fool clips. I don’t know, but Howard was active scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, three on the offensive boards. With two blocks and a steal, Howard showed life in a game he should have the matchup advantage. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Howard knocked down six of his nine shots in the game. It is going to be interesting how many fourth quarters Dwight is going to be sitting if he continues to shoot 4-for-10 from the free throw line. He has to shore that up.

Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder will get the headlines, but don’t get it twisted here, the most important player will be Dwight Howard. Howard has to dominate down low on the boards and provide the rim protection needed to get out of the first round which could easily be the Toronto Raptors.

Here’s what I learned…now learn from this!

Head coach Mike Budenholzer scratched Thabo Sefolosha from the starting lineup for being late for pregame warmups. Sefolosha was caught in traffic. The lineup change was only for one game. If there is one thing you have to give Budenholzer credit for, it’s consistency. Punishment is for the entire team. No favorites.

Boy that Atlanta Hawks bench is something. Zero points in the first half?! That’s not going to get it done.

Trying to analyze this game will be summed up by a line I remember by Vin Diesel in the very first Fast and Furious movie in the wildly successful franchise. You see he had just beaten Paul Walker’s character for slips on a 10 second car. The line was…

“…It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile… WINNING IS WINNING!”

That is the best way of looking at this game if you are an Atlanta fan… ugh!

After three straight home losses, bad defense and a point guard that has made it clear that he’s not happy with his center or coach, the Hawks pull out a win over the Brooklyn Nets 110-105. Let’s be very clear here Hawks fans. The good news is that the losing streak is over…

The bad news is the losing style of basketball isn’t.

Dennis Schroder led the team in scoring 31 points on 10-21 shooting. Paul Millsap continued his consistent play with 24 points while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ersan Ilyasova played well enough off the bench. Sometimes learning is hard and so are these…

Three Lessons

Lesson number one: The Atlanta Hawks defense is just plain bad right now

I mean really bad. Okay I get it. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the world champs, so I guess we all can turn a blind eye to giving up 135 points in a game. This also included giving up a whopping 77 points in the first half, which is easily the most given up by the Hawks this season. That’s Magic Johnson Showtime Lakers totals people. Okay giving up 119 points to the Golden State Warriors maybe can be over looked. I mean, the Splash Brothers were in town right?

Let’s take a closer look at this shall we? The Cleveland Cavaliers knocked down a NBA record 25 3-pointers last Friday night. Most of the threes were shot in the realm of the Cavaliers offense. This means they got what they wanted, when they wanted it. Sure the game was close at the end, but that was when Tim Hardaway Jr. went nuts in the fourth quarter leading a furious charge. But let’s be clear here. There should be no way a team should allow two players (Kyrie Irving [43 points] and LeBron James [38 points]) combine for 81 points in a single game.

Looking even closer at Kyrie Irving’s 43 points, it seems that he shot an absurd 14-for-21 from the floor. Umm, he’s the point guard right? Who’s got him on defense? Oh yeah. Dennis Schroder. You see, if the point guard can break down the defense, it opens up shots. It looked like a Cavaliers passing drill at times.

The Warriors game was bad, too. The Splash Brothers were off a couple of nights ago and the Hawks still couldn’t stop the Dubs. Ask any current or past players of basketball, if the coach sits you down… FOR THE REST OF THE GAME for a defensive breakdown, things are bad. That’s what happened when Schroder allowed Steph Curry to line it up for three while barking with Dwight Howard.

Here’s the point. The Brooklyn Nets are easily the worst team in the NBA. They lack the talent and assets to even stay competitive even though the effort is there every night. The Hawks should have blown this team back to the Barclay Center so they could watch the ACC tournament. Instead because of lackluster defense, the Hawks allowed this team to stick around.

Lesson number two: The Dennis Schroder dynamic has to addressed

Dennis Schroder had a strong comeback from the fiasco on Monday. His scoring totals seem to bode very well for the Hawks. This game was the ninth time that he scored over 25 points. The Hawks are 8-1 when he accomplishes that feat. For the entire first half, Schroder kept the Hawks afloat with 17 points to keep things close at halftime 50-46.

But…

The offense struggled. Big time. Outside of Schroder’s production of the dribble, the offense was stagnant and Brooklyn was pretty much in control for much of the first half.

Who’s job is it to get the offense started? Yep, Dennis Schroder.

As we learned in the first lesson, the Hawks are not good enough defensively right now to have an offense that depends on offense that showcases one-on-one basketball with Dennis Schroder.

At least the off the court issue was dealt with. Schroder had a meeting with head coach Mike Budenholzer and other teammates. Schroder’s take via ESPN.com:

“Because I’m so competitive that sometimes in the game when it’s heated, everybody is emotional and when you say stuff everybody gets kind of mad,” Schroder said. “So you’ve just got to pick the spots when you do it. Tonight it worked well, and we just try to keep going forward”

Paul Millsap on Schroder from ESPN.com:

“Personally I see some growth, some maturity, a guy that didn’t let what happened last game to get to him,” Millsap said. “I see a guy who came out and busted his butt regardless of what happened. Discipline or not, he didn’t play (much) the last game, but came out with a good attitude today to help us win. I see a lot of maturity and a lot of growth in him.”

What does Budenholzer have to say, again via ESPN:

“I thought he was great,” Budenholzer said. “The way he attacks the basket, the way he gets inside, the way he’s shooting the 3 ball with so much confidence. He’s just going to keep getting better.”

Hawks fans better hope so. Look nobody is denying Dennis Schroder’s talent. The Brooklyn game was a perfect illustration of why Atlanta moved on from Jeff Teague and locked Schroder in for the future with a $70 million dollar contract. When the offense stalls, Schroder is the guy that can make a play for himself and his teammates. But with the playoffs coming around the corner, Schroder is going to have to keep his head and use this rough patch as a learning experience. But if he starts believing his own hype or playing like he did against Brooklyn to prove a point against Howard and Budenholzer, it will come out eventually.

Lesson number three: Outside of Tim Hardaway Jr., where are the bench people?

Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 16 points, six rebounds and two steals. Ersan Ilyasova had 10 points and seven rebounds. The rest of the Hawks bench combined? Two points by Taurean Prince. That’s not a good look for a Hawks bench. Sure Hardaway Jr. has been great, but Ilyasova has been subpar for the most part since his trade from Philadelphia. Jose Calderon played 12 minutes and scored the same amount of points I did writing this article and you guys reading it. All of this while Mike Muscala, Kris Humphries, DeAndre Bembry and Malcolm Delaney never saw the floor. The Hawks are going to have to figure out a second unit for the playoffs.

Here’s what I learned…now learn from this!

Dwight Howard finished with a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. He knocked down five of his seven shots. Moving forward, the Hawks need to make sure that Howard believes that he is a part of the offense. He doesn’t need to be a number one option (or two for that matter, three could be a stretch!) but he needs to feel a part of the equation on the offensive end. If not, he’ll start sulking and stop doing the work down low the Hawks pay him to do.

Benchmark to the Hawks season is coming up…Raptors on Friday, a tough Memphis team on Saturday and San Antonio on Monday.