With the Hawks sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference after Sunday’s win over the visiting Denver Nuggets, those who predicted a strong season for Atlanta might be tempted to pat themselves on the back. However, in light of the fact that the Hawks have played by far the easiest schedule to this point, it might be time to pump the brakes. While the Hawks are having an amazing season offensively, the team is among the league’s worst in rebounding and opponents’ at-rim FG%.

What follows is an overview of what the Hawks are doing well and what areas need improvement. First, the good news. If you go through NBA.com’s player tracking data, you will see that the Hawks are at or near the top in almost every offensive category. The Hawks lead the NBA in catch-and-shoot effective FG% (57.2) and points per game (34.3), are eighth in PPG off drives (31.4), are second only to the Warriors in PPG created via assist (59.8) and are fourth in the league in overall effective FG% (53.1).

Interestingly, the Hawks are ranked eighth in effective FG% on pull-up shots (43.7) despite the fact that the Hawks attempt the second-fewest pull up shots per game. This indicates that the Hawks are shooting well from the perimeter regardless of shot type, but have made a systemic decision to eschew pull-up attempts in favor of shots created via assist. That the Hawks are effectively 13.5% better on catch-and-shoot attempts (compared to pull-ups) illustrates why this decision was a good one. Continue Reading…

The Hawks hosted the Denver Nuggets in a 3:30 matinee affair and walked out of Philips Arena with a 96-84 victory, the team’s sixth win in a row. The win also moves the Hawks to second in the East and first in the Southeast division by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Washington Wizards.

Paul Millsap led the way, scoring 23 points on 13 shots. Millsap kept the Hawks alive in the third quarter, where the Hawks were on the brink of blowing a 20-point lead. The forward had 14 of Atlanta’s 20 points in the quarter, going 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line.

“He’s a unique player in that he can score and impact the game in a lot of ways on the offensive end,” said Coach Budenholzer on Millsap. “He can play in the post, he can play off the dribble, off the elbows, and is also able to spread the floor and shoot 3s.”

As the Hawks have done for most of this six-game win streak, they started off well in the first quarter, taking a 32-21 lead after 12 minutes. “We came out and got a little bit of a cushion with our defense,” said Budenholzer. “I thought a lot of different guys contributed… I thought we finished the quarter well.” This great play in the first quarter was not there for the Hawks at the start of the season, where Atlanta was often falling behind early and forcing themselves to dig out of a hole. Continue Reading…

This week in the southeast, the Wizards look like a pretty damn good basketball team, but the Hawks are right on their tail. These are not only two of the best teams in the division; they might be two of the best teams in the conference. Meanwhile, the division is starting to get a little top heavy, with Miami falling to below .500, there are now three teams below .500 in a division many thought was going to be very good this year.

Washington Wizards, 13-5, 2nd in the East, 4-0 this week WAS

Does it really matter that the Wizards haven’t beaten any great teams this year if they keep beating up on everybody else, cause that’s what they’re doing. They won a game against Miami that, at the time, looked like a good win but Miami’s recent slide has put that wins validity into doubt. Their best win of the week was an 83-80 defeat of the New Orleans Pelicans. Overcoming a low scoring game like that can be difficult for a lot of teams but the Wizards handled it well, using it to send them on a four game winning streak.

Atlanta Hawks, 12-6, 3rd in the East, 4-0 this week ATL

The Hawks have entered that Wizards range where they’re beating the teams they should beat, which is a good thing. There were some concerns after Atlanta lost to teams like Los Angeles and Charlotte, but it appears they’ve started to figure things out after extending their win streak to five with a thrashing of Brooklyn. Continue Reading…

The Hawks destroyed the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night with a final score of 98-75.

The game started slow, with the scoreboard showing 18-16 in Brooklyn’s favor after the first quarter. That changed in the second quarter, as DeMarre Carroll got hot and hit four 3-pointers in the period, including a buzzer-beater to close the half. Carroll outscored the Nets on his own in the quarter, tallying 14 points to Brooklyn’s 13. The 13 points were a season-low in a quarter for the Nets.

The third quarter played a little tighter, but the Hawks had already built up a 20-plus point lead. By the time the fourth quarter started, the Hawks were again firing on all cylinders and the Atlanta led grew to as many as 32. Dennis Schröder was the main guy leading the Hawks at this point, as he scored 11 points and grabbed three steals in the quarter before being taken out of the game. Schröder’s totals for the game were 13 points, five assists, and four steals.

By the end of the game, the Hawks had taken all of the regulars off of the floor and had a lineup of Shelvin Mack, Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Elton Brand, and Mike Muscala on the floor. Can’t say we’ve seen a lot of that lineup this year, although if more situations like this arise, I think the Atlanta faithful will gladly enjoy that lineup. Continue Reading…

Hawks Blast the Heat in Miami

Bo Churney —  December 4, 2014 — 1 Comment

The Hawks went down to Miami on Wednesday and defeated the Miami Heat 112-102 for the Hawks’ fourth straight win.

Atlanta controlled the game nearly wire-to-wire, opening up double-digit leads in as early as the first quarter. Sharing was caring to open the game, as the Hawks assisted on all 11 of their field goals in the quarter.

The second quarter saw Miami surge back, mostly behind the scoring of a healthy Dwyane Wade, who missed the first meeting between the two teams in November. Wade scored 10 in the quarter, cutting the Atlanta lead to one until the Hawks rallied behind Dennis Schröder, who closed the half with a wicked layup attempt in traffic, giving the Hawks a 55-47 lead.

The second half is where the Hawks really blew the doors off of the Heat, powered by Jeff Teague’s 22 second half points. Although the Heat were able to close the margin some, the Hawks were leading by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter after Teague hit a step-back 3-pointer. Teague finished the night with 27 points, five rebounds, and six assists, which was quite the performance after sitting on the bench for the entire fourth quarter the night before.

For the second straight night, Dennis Schröder set a new career-high in points, this time with 16. Schröder continues to be highly efficient with either scoring or passing on drives to the basket, and he augmented his scoring by hitting two 3-pointers against Miami. The young German is currently averaging 19.3 points and six assists per 36 minutes. Continue Reading…

The Hawks won on Tuesday night by defeating the Boston Celtics by a score of 109-105. The Hawks won despite trailing by 23 points at one point, and Kyle Korver was a big reason why the Hawks were able to comeback. However, Boston’s Evan Turner lobbed some unkind words in Korver’s direction after the game.

Strong words from a player whose team just gave up 109 points in a loss.

Let’s just make this clear. Continue Reading…

The Hawks fell behind early to a hot-shooting Boston Celtics team, allowing 42 points on 17-for-22 (77%) in the first quarter. The lead ballooned to 23 early in the second quarter as Rajon Rondo continued to dish to open men, who promptly sank their uncontested jumpshots.

The Hawks battled back in the second half, mostly behind the hot shooting of Kyle Korver and superb play of Dennis Schröder. Korver scored 10 points in the third quarter to help cut into the large Boston lead, and then Schröder took over in the fourth, scoring 10 points and failing to turn the ball over despite the intense defensive pressure applied by Avery Bradley. Schröder also gathered the final defensive rebound in a scramble with 14.9 seconds left, leading to a Kent Bazemore run out layup to secure the game for the Hawks with a score of 109-105.

“Our aggressiveness and activity wasn’t where it needed to be for a half,” commented Budenholzer on the team’s poor defensive start. “I give our guys a lot of credit for finding a way to bounce back and giving ourselves a chance to win a tough game.”

One part of the Hawks’ renewed defensive effort in the second half was Korver matching up on Rondo. “[Rondo] was kind of picking us apart like a quarterback with 14 assists at halftime,” said Budenholzer. “We just wanted to try a different look.” After 14 assists in the first half, Rondo was limited to five assists, three turnovers, and zero points in the second half and a lot of that had to do with Korver’s length and intelligent footwork on defense. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks remain difficult to draw conclusions about in the early part of the season. Entering Saturday ranked 25th in defensive efficiency and giving up a bloated 106.6 points per 100 possessions (the Hawks currently rank 21st), and playing a fourth game in five nights, the Hawks were stellar defensively for the second night in a row. After holding the Pelicans to 28 first-half points Friday, the Hawks’ best defensive first half of the season, the team repeated the feat against the Hornets.

Much was made (by me) about the Hawks’ playoff defensive performance against the Pacers. After ranking a mediocre 14th in defensive efficiency for the 2013-14 regular season, the Hawks held the Pacers to 101.6 points per 100 posessions and ranked third among 16 playoff teams. Some chalked up the Pacers’ poor offensive showing to internal strife, a theory that is looking good after the Hornets’ implosion since acquiring Lance Stephenson.

I theorized that the Hawks’ playoff performance was evidence of defensive progression under Mike Budenholzer. Then this season happened. Despite playing Paul Millsap at center frequently while Pero Antic recovered from a stress fracture in his foot, the Hawks had a strong defensive series against Indiana. This season opened with a healthy roster featuring the return of Al Horford, a technically-sound defender with quick feet, able to guard centers and switch onto opposing perimeter players. Despite relative good health, the Hawks were giving up 2.5 more points per 100 possessions compared to last season. Continue Reading…

Hawks Curb Stomp the Hornets

Bo Churney —  November 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

This game was a blowout, meaning there is very little to talk about and discuss from it, so excuse me while I have a little fun with this one.

The Hawks dominated the Hornets on Saturday night in Philips Arena, with a final score of 105-75. And really, the game was not even that close. The Hawks were up 80-36 at one point in the third quarter before they finally pulled the starters. For those that missed the game, here’s a visual representation of how it went down:

Yes, it was that bad. Charlotte’s offense is already awful and that was combined with missing Gary Neal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with the latter’s absence also creating a hole in the Hornets’ defense. The Hawks capitalized on these weaknesses and mixed it with some hot shooting, leading to a 64-28 lead at halftime where the Hawkers were shooting 61% and the Hornets were shooting 25.6%.

“That was a good effort that hopefully we can build from,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer in a very blunt statement to open his post game interview. Continue Reading…

This Week In The Southeast, the Wizards begin to look mortal. Was their hot start just the effect of an easy schedule? The Hawks are now ONE GAME behind first place in the East, have they finally figured out what caused their early season struggles? Meanwhile, Miami just can’t seem to get a winning streak going, Orlando is tumbling down, and Charlotte keeps choking on their food.

Washington Wizards, 9-5, 2nd in the East, 0-2 this week WAS

The Wizards faced two good teams this week, and they lost to both of them. After a close loss to the division rival Hawks, Washington went to Cleveland on a back to back and had a horrible night, getting blown out of the building. The Wizards still don’t have a quality win this season. Lucky for them, this isn’t college football and all that matters is how many wins you have, not the quality of them.

Atlanta Hawks, 8-6, 5th in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Atlanta is really random to start off this season. After last week’s horrible loss to the Lakers, the Hawks responded with a big win over the Wizards, and a complete game against the Pelicans. Seriously, they might be the first team all year to say they slowed down Anthony Davis. Despite the good things this week, Atlanta did get outplayed by a pretty good Raptors team. Right now there is a ceiling on the Hawks, we just can’t figure out where it is. Continue Reading…