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The end of the All-Star break marks the beginning of a hugely significant time of the season — the stretch run. It’s crunch time across the NBA for many teams. You have teams gunning for the number one seed, teams gunning for home court advantage, teams gunning for the playoffs, and you have a few teams gunning for the lottery.

The Atlanta Hawks can be categorised into the second group mentioned — gunning for home court advantage. But they’ve ran into a wall. They’re currently on a three game losing streak and have lost five of their last six games. They currently occupy the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Charlotte Hornets (who have been hot of late) sitting just two games behind the Hawks having played two games less. It goes without saying that the Hawks have to string together W’s down the stretch if they want to obtain home court advantage. What are they key games/road trips/stretches that the Hawks face as the season winds down?

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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…

A night after having their six-game winning streak snapped, the Atlanta Hawks look to get back on track against the home-standing Houston Rockets. Atlanta has defeated the Rockets in the teams’ previous three meetings.

Houston comes in to tonight’s tilt having won four of their last six. However, the Rockets dropped a 110-108 road defeat to the lowly New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. Ranked 26th in the league in points allowed (105) Houston gave up 63 first-half points, while being lit up by the tandem of Anthony Davis (24) and Eric Gordon (26).

The Rockets’ leading scorer, James Harden (28.4), netted 24 on 8-of-21 shooting from the field. The league’s third-leading rebounder Dwight Howard was held to nine boards and seven points in Houston’s two-point loss.

The Rockets are currently seventh in the west at 16-16. Houston’s Christmas day win over mighty San Antonio (27-6) followed by a loss to woeful New Orleans (10-21) has exemplified the team’s streaky season. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks look to extend an NBA best six-game winning streak while visiting the Indiana Pacers tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana comes into the contest struggling of late, having lost three-of-four.

One of the main catalysts for the Pacers’ recent 1-3 skid has been the slumping performance of All-NBA performer Paul George. This season, the 25 year-old star has averaged an impressive 24.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. However, George’s numbers have fallen off considerably in his past four outings. This precipitous drop off includes declined averages of 16.5 points, 5.3 turnovers and 29 percent shooting from the field.

During this 1-3 stretch, Indiana’s team averages have taken a nosedive as well. Overall, the Pacers rank sixth in the NBA in points allowed at 98.7 per contest. The team is seventh in points scored per outing at 102.7. But over their past four, those numbers have declined to 96 points scored and 99.5 yielded.

It’s fair to state that Indiana is struggling as a unit heading into Monday night’s tilt. Continue Reading…

Atlanta will look to extend its winning streak to five when they face the Detroit Pistons from Philips Arena on Wednesday. The Hawks reeled off a season-best seven consecutive victories after being soundly defeated by the Pistons, 106-94, on opening night.

In that contest the Hawks’ starters were dominated by Detroit’s. The Piston’s starting five posted 88 points to Atlanta’s 59. Former UGA standout Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 21. Andre Drummond was unstoppable down low, grabbing 19 rebounds while posting 18 points.

Detroit, (17-12) is currently the Eastern Conference’s sixth best team and in the midst of a 3-game winning streak. Detroit rallied from 18 down last night to defeat Miami 93-92.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have gone from ninth to third place in the Eastern Conference standings over the past seven days. At 18-12, Atlanta is one of only three teams in their conference to currently sport 18 victories. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics face off in an Eastern Conference rubber match Friday night at the TD Garden. The Hawks avenged an earlier 106-93 defeat to Boston by dominating the Celtics in the teams’ last meeting.

In that Nov. 24 meeting Atlanta overwhelmed the Celtics 121-94. For the contest the Hawks’ “Mr. Everything” Paul Millsap scored 25 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

Fast forward almost a month and both teams are just outside of the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings. Each squad enters Friday’s showdown having dropped three of their previous four outings. Ninth place Atlanta currently holds a razor thin half game lead over tenth place Boston in the Conference’s pecking order. Continue Reading…

Last year the Atlanta Hawks took the NBA by surprise as they finished 60-22 and 12-4 in divisional play. This year poses a different challenge for Coach Bud and the team with expectations much higher than in recent seasons. Additionally, not only did the Eastern Conference get a much-needed face-lift, but the Southeast Division will also pose a much tougher challenge to these Hawks. Here’s a preview of what to expect from Atlanta’s division opponents in 2015-16:

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets fan base came into last season with high hopes coming off a 7th seed finish two years ago and the acquisition of Lance Stephenson in the offseason. So last year’s 33-49 record along with Stephenson’s 39% field goal percentage seemed like a bad joke Michael Jordan played on everyone.

In his third season, coach Steve Clifford will need to take the next step by placing more emphasis on improving the offensive scheme that ranked 28th in offensive efficiency last year. The addition of Nicholas Batum adds to an already stout defensive unit as well as a small forward that can stretch the floor. His presence on defense will be much needed with the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a torn labrum and seperated shoulder, suffered in last weekend’s preseason game against Orlando, that will sideline him for 6 months. Continue Reading…

Game 1 of the Hawks and Cavaliers series looked like a disaster for Atlanta when DeMarre Carroll went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

The arena was deadly silent. Carroll was rolling in pain on the court as players and coaches from both teams looked on with grave concern. As Carroll was helped off the court, everyone in Atlanta had one thought: it’s over. Without DeMarre Carroll, the team’s best perimeter defender and the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs, the Hawks had no chance against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But alas, a beam of hope has struck the ATL.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the MRI on Carroll’s knee showed no structural damage beyond confirming a knee sprain. Carroll’s status was updated on Wednesday by the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore:

With Kyrie Irving also being questionable for Game 2, the Hawks have ample opportunity to recover from the near disaster that was Game 1. With or without Carroll, here are the keys that the Hawks need to follow to improve in Game 2.

Go under on LeBron James initiated pick-and-rolls

LeBron James had success against the Hawks in Game 1 by getting into the paint, whether it be via post up or drive into the lane with the help of a screen. James often collapsed the Hawks’ defense and would kick out to an open Continue Reading…

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…

Hawks-Bulls Preview

Bo Churney —  April 2, 2014 — 6 Comments

At this point, with the way the season is gone, I have no preference on the Hawks making the playoffs. If they miss out and get a lotto pick, I think that is good for the team. If they happen to make the playoffs, I think it is good for the team.

However, if the team really does want to make the playoffs, they will want to put a competitive effort up against the visiting Chicago Bulls. The Hawks have usually had trouble with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and the Bulls, meaning that this game could quickly turn into a bloodbath.

So what are the keys for the Hawks to win this game?

First, the Hawks will want to try and get Joakim Noah out of the lane as much as possible. This means no more 1-for-8 performances from the field, Pero Antic. Of course, consistently pulling Noah out of the lane is harder than it sounds; Noah can move with great quickness and can easily recover back into the positions that Coach Thibodeau’s defense requires from him. It’s why the Bulls are second in the league in defensive efficiency. Continue Reading…