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John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend), the co-editor of TrueHoop Wizards blog Truth About It, asked me to chip in for a preview of tonight’s Hawks-Wizards match-up at Philips Arena. “Ask me the questions, Bridgekeeper, I am not afraid,” declared I. Townsend asked for my thoughts on last night’s win in New Orleans, and I primarily attributed it to Kyle Korver’s breakout game:

Korver is off to a slow start from 3-point range after a summer lost to rehab from two separate surgeries. Korver entered the Pelicans game having shot just 5-for-20 (25%) on 3-point attempts for the season. He has somewhat made up for it by adding a dribble-drive and midrange pull-up to his game, frequently using the glass. In New Orleans, Korver may have turned the corner, tying Paul Millsap for the team lead with 22 points on eight shots including 4-for-4 from distance and a game-high plus-16.

But why waste time here? You can read the whole Hawks-Wizards preview over at Truth About It.

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…

I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself at The Joey Crawford Review, hereafter referred to as Game 6 of the 1st round NBA Playoffs series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers. Seriously, that was the most bizarre officiating I have ever witnessed. I may have spoken too soon in the Game 2 preview when I said the refs probably wouldn’t help the Pacers. By my calculations, they’ve they’ve swung two games in the series thus far.

Looking ahead to Game 7, I will say that the keys are the same as they were in my preview for Game 5: If DeMarre Carroll impacts the floor at both ends and either Pero Antic or Mike Scott gets hot from outside, the game is winnable. After writing that preview, Carroll scored 15 points on six shots and Scott shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range in Game 5.

Prior to the Game 5 win, Carroll scored only three points and Scott and Antic combined to shoot 1-for-7 from 3-point range in a Game 4 loss. In Game 6, the same issues cropped up again. Carroll scored only seven points on seven shots and Scott and Antic combined to shoot 0-for-10 on 3-pointers.

Continue Reading…

Can we all take a moment to sit back and admire the unbelievable job the Atlanta Hawks have done in dismantling the best defense in the NBA? For the regular season, the Pacers allowed 96.7 points per 100 possessions, the best defensive efficiency rating in the league. The Hawks were mid-pack, allowing 104.1 per 100 to rank 14th. In these playoffs, the Pacers are ranked 6th out of 16 playoff teams, allowing 101.9 points per 100 possessions, more than five points more per 100 than the team allowed in the regular season.

Incredibly, the Hawks presently rank 5th in playoff defensive efficiency, allowing 101.5 points per 100, a decrease of almost three points. That is… stupefying? Dumbfounding? I’m struggling for words to convey how stupendous the Hawks have been on both ends of the floor in this series. Can I buy a vowel?

Let’s take a look at some individual performers who have stepped up for the Hawks and contributed to the stellar collective effort. Go get some coffee and come back, this could take a while. First of all, when did Paul Millsap change his name to Godzilla and decide to take a stroll through Indianapolis? He’s averaging 21 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on 45/44/81 shooting from the floor/3-point line/free throw line. Although he is playing three more minutes per game (still four fewer than the overworked Paul George), he has increased his scoring average vs. the regular season by three points. He has maintained his average of two blocks per game but it seems like he’s altering more shots than that. Are there any questions from the floor about Millsap deserving his All-Star nod this season? Continue Reading…

When a team loses a single-possession game, there are normally several plays that could have changed the outcome. In the first half of Game 4, one play that stood out was a Roy Hibbert layup with 5:09 remaining to put the Pacers ahead 37-35. Hibbert was initially tied up by Paul Millsap. The ref must either call a travel or a jump ball in that situation. This isn’t Vietnam, there are rules. Millsap had no chance to contest the second shot, so the referees essentially awarded the Pacers two points on this possession.

The other play that stood out in the first half was a bad decision by Jeff Teague. On Twitter before and during the game, I really hyped Teague’s opportunity to take a further step into the national spotlight by leading his team to a win that would place his team on the cusp of an historic series upset. After Mike Scott’s three to put the Hawks up 46-37 with two minutes to play in the half, Teague appeared ready to take over.

Teague blew by Paul George’s weak steal attempt for a layup and 48-38 Hawks lead with 1:21 to play in the half. I always emphasize closing out quarters, halves and games by nursing or extending a lead, or whittling away at a deficit if a team is trailing. When a team is up 10 just before halftime, clock management becomes critical to maintaining that lead. Continue Reading…

Welcome to Must Win: Game 4 Edition. The Hawks kept home court advantage alive with a Game 3 win, but a loss in Game 4 would give home court plus all the momentum back to the Pacers heading back to Indianapolis. Atlanta benefited from two factors that might not help in Game 4. The Hawks were helped by an abnormal amount of luck (including a circus 3-pointer by Jeff Teague where he may have stepped out of bounds) and some correctable errors by Frank Vogel.

Kyle Korver was not having a great series but he came up huge in Game 3 with 20 points on six shots, including 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range and six rebounds. One of the biggest turning points in the game happened with 7:18 to play in the 4th. After a series of disastrous defensive possessions for the Hawks, the Pacers drew within four on an open corner three by Lance Stephenson.

On the next play, Teague drove into the lane and attempted a shovel pass to Mike Scott that didn’t connect. Stephenson sprawled on the ground to gather the loose ball and was ruled out of bounds. On the ensuing possession, Korver hit a pull-up three and was fouled by C.J. Watson, late fighting through a Pero Antic screen. Had Stephenson secured possession, the Pacers might have drawn within one or two rather than see the Hawks’ lead (79-71) stretch back out to eight. 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…

After the horrid stretch of losing 14 out of 15 games, the Hawks are on a three-game winning streak after defeating Utah, Milwaukee, and Denver.

Now here’s a real test to see what the team is made of; believe it or not, the Charlotte Bobcats and Toronto Raptors are playoff teams this season, with the Raptors actually being a legitimately good team.

The large losing stretch for the Hawks was largely scarred by the team’s injuries; Al Horford was already out for the season, but the additional injuries to Pero Antic, Paul Millsap, and Gustavo Ayon left the team scrambling to fill holes in the frontcourt. Now, with Antic and Millsap back in tow, the Hawks are looking like a much better team. But how good are they?

The Hawks have won 10 straight games against Charlotte, but this is a different Charlotte team from most years. Al Jefferson is a good number one offensive option, plus the Bobcats are a top 10 defense. For the Hawks to win this game, they are going to need an aggressive Jeff Teague, as a passive effort from the starting point guard will just play right into Charlotte’s strengths on defense. If Teague can attack, breakdown the defense, and kick to open three-point shooters (where Charlotte is allowing opponents to shoot 37.3%, bottom five in the league) then the Hawks will have a good chance to win. Continue Reading…