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Hawks-Bulls Preview

Bo Churney —  April 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

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…

The injured Hawks started their west coast road trip with a loss against the Phoenix Suns. While losing to the Suns is not a bad thing these days, it’s the overall picture that makes it a rough loss. The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 12 largely due to injuries and tired legs. February and March is a rough time for any NBA team. Throw in injuries and you’re gonna have some problems. That’s why this upcoming road trip is so huge for the Hawks. They don’t have to win every single game, but a single win over the next three could go a long way.

It won’t be an easy road with the Hawks playing in Portland tonight to take on the Blazers. While Portland has appeared to have fallen back down to earth a bit, they are still one of the better teams in the NBA using an arsenal of – point shooters. They use LaMarcus Aldridge and his mid-range shooting ability to space the floor for their 3-point shooters. The Blazers problem is their defense is far from good and their bench isn’t that great.

Were the Hawks at full strength I’d say they had a really good chance at winning and possibly even be the favorites. However, no Horford, Millsap likely out, no Antic, and no Ayon, leaves them in a tight spot. They finally have three big men on the roster, but they’ve gone from having two all stars, a serviceable vet in Elton Brand, and a serviceable rookie to playing the vet major minutes while trying to scrape by on big men that were at the end of the bench earlier in the season. That is not an ideal situation for any team. Continue Reading…

This is not a good time for the Hawks to be facing the two-time defending champions.

Atlanta did recently slay the Pacers and Rockets at home, but those two games are the Hawks’ only wins in their past seven games. The Hawks are currently on a two-game losing streak after a loss in Memphis and a beatdown in London from the Brooklyn Nets. A loss against the Heat would send Atlanta back to .500 and possibly down to fifth in the East if Washington wins against the 76ers this afternoon.

So what can the Hawks do to pull off an upset against Miami? Well for one, the home team will have DeMarre Carroll back, as he missed Thursday’s game in London because of the birth of his daughter. Carroll should help bolster the Atlanta defense that had huge troubles with Joe Johnson in London and would have had enormous problems with LeBron James without Carroll in the lineup.

The Hawks will also hope to take advantage of a Miami defense that is slightly down this year. Of course, the Heat are still top 10 in defensive efficiency (10th per Basketball-Reference), but Miami is giving up a full point more per 100 possessions than last season, and four points more than two seasons ago. One of Miami’s big holes has been three-point defense, where they rank in the bottom 10 of the league by allowing opponents to shoot 36.8% from behind the arc. While this may point to a big night for Kyle Korver, that’s not necessarily what the Hawks need; the Hawks will need their secondary three-point shooters — Jeff Teague, Pero Antic, and Carroll — to hit the open looks that they get. Teague, who is in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, is currently shooting just 25% from three-point land this season, with his problem seemingly being a proclivity to come up short on above-the-break threes. Continue Reading…

The Hawks enter Friday’s game against the Jazz with an opportunity to get three games over .500.

While that may not sound significant, consider this: three games over .500 would give the Hawks a considerable cushion in the largely dreadful Eastern Conference. Expanding on that, five of the Hawks’ next six games — including the Jazz game — are against teams that are currently under .500. Three of those teams (Orlando, Cleveland, and Utah) have a winning percentage that is under .400. Four of these games, however, are on the road.

With all of that said, the Hawks have a good chance to cushion their hold on the third seed in the East with a relatively easy schedule to close out the 2013 calendar year. That all starts tonight against the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz are the second worst team in the NBA by record (7-21) and third worst by per game point differential (-8.4). The Jazz’s biggest weakness is their defense, where they are currently last in the NBA by allowing over 110 points per 100 possessions. (per Basketball-Reference) Continue Reading…

The problem with the Hawks last year wasn’t just that they weren’t getting to the line; they couldn’t make anything once they got there. The team was 26th in the league in both free throws per field goal attempt and free throw percentage.

Something welcoming has developed, though. Through three games this season, the Hawks are getting to the line at an average of 30.7 times per game, up from 19.7 last season. One problem stays the same, however; the Hawks are shooting 66% from the charity stripe, good enough for 27th in the league.

The biggest offenders? Well, Josh Smith may have left, but his replacement, Paul Millsap, is filling this void just perfectly. Millsap is shooting 47.4% from the line so far, which is extremely concerning considering that he’s getting to the line over ten times per game. That is a lot of points left on the board for Atlanta.

Al Horford hasn’t been much help in this area, missing half of his attempts through three games. While it’s great to see the Hawks get to the line so much, this amount of misses is eventually going to lead to losses, if you want to argue that it already hasn’t. (see: Lakers)

Tonight, the Hawks will take on the Kings in Sacramento, would should give Atlanta plenty of opportunities to remedy their free throw woes. The Kings do have some offensive firepower with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, but what they offer on defense is… well, it’s not great. Teague, Millsap, and Horford will have plenty of chances to pound the ball instead, get some buckets, and hopefully, get to the line where they can actually convert.

This will also be a good game to see if the Hawks can get something cooking defensively. Converting to a new defense with a new coach and a lot of new players is hard, but the team needs to stop leaving shooters open in transition and off of the pick-and-roll. It still may take a while to get the defense completely going, but at some point, we need to see some improvement.

Tonight’s game starts at 10PM EST.

Today the NBA unveiled a slew of data obtained from SportVU’s cameras installed over all 29 NBA arenas for us to file through. With the Hawks set to match up against the Toronto Raptors in their home opener tonight, lets look through the lens of player-tracking statistics and see if we can uncover applause-worthy or worrisome points to keep an eye out for. Note, these are statistics based solely on numbers obtained through the 2013-14 season. Small sample size alert.

One thing that had me fuming in the Hawks’ 118-109 loss to Dallas was how little Al Horford was utilized late in the game after being a go-to offensive threat in the early going. Horford took 12 shots all game, good for third on the team. This alone is a red flag, but the major crime was his mere four attempts in the final quarter of the contest. Being Atlanta’s best player, one would expect Horford to have a bigger influence on the offense.

The SportVU cameras are offering similar results. Horford ranks 16th in touches per game among bigs in the league, an astonishingly low ranking especially when you factor in this measure being on a per-game basis and the Hawks playing in such a high-possession game. (of course, only one game, but definitely something to watch) Continue Reading…

We have now released previews for all 30 teams, just in time for the start of the regular season. If you missed any, here they all are!

 

Atlantic

Central

Southeast

Boston

Chicago

Atlanta

Brooklyn

Cleveland

Charlotte

New York

Detroit

Miami

Philadelphia

Indiana

Orlando

Toronto

Milwaukee

Washington

Northwest

Pacific

Southwest

Denver

Golden State

Dallas

Minnesota

LA Clippers

Houston

Oklahoma City

LA Lakers

Memphis

Portland

Phoenix

New Orleans

Utah

Sacramento

San Antonio

 

 

2012-13 Record: 33-49 (11th in West)z-blazers

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: CJ McCollum (draft), Robin Lopez (trade), Dorell Wright (free agent), Thomas Robinson (trade), Mo Williams (free agent)

Key Losses: JJ Hickson (free agent and probably the best thing they could have done)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 42-40 (8th in West)*

What to Expect: Despite how much I detest JJ Hickson for his defense, Portland actually had a good starting lineup last year. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the league, putting up at least 20 points and eight rebounds in each of the last three seasons. Damian Lillard came onto the scene and quickly established himself as a quality point guard with his winning of rookie of the year. Wes Matthews isn’t a great shooting guard, but he’s not bad either. And while Nicolas Batum might not stick out to most people, he does a little bit of everything and is very solid wing player.

So the Blazers had four solid pieces in their starting lineup. So what was wrong?

Depth. Portland had none of it. Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 25-57 (15th in West)z-suns

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: Eric Bledsoe (trade), Alex Len (draft), Archie Goodwin (draft), Emeka Okafor (trade)

Key Losses: Jared Dudley (trade), Michael Beasley (cut), Marcin Gortat (trade)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 26-56, pre-Gortat trade (15th in West)*

What to Expect: It’s a new day, the sun is rising….

That was a terrible pun…

Going with it.

Last season, the Phoenix Suns might have been the most unwatchable team in the league. With the departure of Steve Nash, the team tried a rebuild on the fly with a Michael Beasely reclamation project that went exactly how it sounds. They fired Alvin Gentry, picked up the other Morris twin in a savvy move to complete their package, and made the other Zeller relevant for a short amount of time. Despite all of these efforts it was much of the same under Lindsey Hunter. At least Goran Dragic seems like a bargain at $7.5 million. It wasn’t all bad last year. Continue Reading…