The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 2 of their best-of-7 series against the Washington Wizards 109-101 at Verizon Center. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 63 points to lift the Wizards to a 2-0 series lead while the Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s 27 points and Dennis Schröder’s 23 points in what was a truly ugly affair. And unlike ripping a band-aid off, this horror show took forever and a day to pass…

Per Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game, the Hawks have never recovered from an 0-2 hole in the postseason.

A blown opportunity leaves the Hawks in real trouble

The Hawks held a 94-91 lead with just over 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and, with it, a great chance to emerge from Washington with a split. And then things went horribly wrong. Immediately, John Wall converted a three-point play after being fouled by Paul Millsap — who would commit a travel on the very next play — Bradley Beal then hit a shot, Dennis Schröder air-balled spectacularly, Kent Bazemore committed an offensive foul and then turned the ball over at a crucial point of the game…these were some of the things that happened in the final five minutes, things that helped the Wizards go on a 16-4 run that put the Hawks out of reach.

Atlanta’s best chance to steal a road game in this series came and passed them by, and they were left to rue this missed opportunity due to their poor offense and turnovers down the stretch.

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Dr. J, Moochie Norris, Artis Gilmore and Ben Wallace sported some of the freshest Afros in NBA history. Each possessed a fire and flavor like a legendary Gil Scott-Heron track. The Hawks have had their fair share of Afros as well: from 2004–2008 with Josh Childress and briefly from 2013-2014 with Lucas Nogueira donning the natural. Now rookie DeAndre’ Bembry has taken the torch amidst a league predominantly infatuated with temp fades, high top dreads, mohawks and, of course, the all-around caesar cut. Bembry believes that he is helping to keep the throwback relevant, despite the fact that he has not yet played six full months in the NBA.

“Whether it’s the people that have watched me playing at Saint Joseph, playing high school in New Jersey [The Patrick School] or even back home in Charlotte, I’ve been getting a lot of recognition,” Bembry said. “Seeing kids with my jerseys and afros definitely feels like a trend is starting.”

Similar to Elfrid Payton’s weeknd-esque hair, Bembry’s dates back to high school. He started to grow out his hair around his sophomore year, but, after a notably poor AAU game, he decided to cut it all off. Bembry didn’t feel right without the natural on, though, and decided to grow the ‘fro back once again. He hasn’t cut his hair since.

Some grow out the ‘fro for its style, some in order to emulate their heroes, but, in this country, the Afro’s importance goes far beyond the hairs on one’s head. Since the late 1950’s, the Afro has symbolized black beauty and stands as a protest against Eurocentric beauty standards. Now 22 years old, Bembry understands the symbolism behind the fashion choice and, thus, makes sure that he always carries a piece of the fight with him.

“Back in the day people were growing out the ‘fros — black power and the fist is why when I do carry my pick I make sure there is a fist on it,” Bembry said.

Rocking the ‘fro comes with great responsibility, not only because of its important meaning, but because of the incessant day-to-day maintenance it takes. All of those aforementioned, ‘fro-rocking NBA players didn’t just wake up, pick it out and jump on the court — a lot goes into the preparation.

“I use shea moisturizer, you have to keep them type of juices in there and wash your hair at least every other two days,” Bembry said. “It’s unhealthy to wash your hair every day.”

Periodic picking of one’s hair is essential in order to properly groom and shape one’s hair to his or her liking. The pick is meant to be used in the direction in which the afro grows, giving it shape and texture.

“I pick my hair whenever I feel like it, especially when it feels like it’s a little pushed in and not puffy enough,” Bembry said. “That’s why you always keep the pick in your hair and it’s quick. When I wake up, I pick it out. You always need to have a pick with you — always.”

The culmination of these steps results in one of the most iconic African-American hairstyles. Yet, despite all of its glory and symbolic importance, getting made fun of is a part of the package. Bembry has heard it all, but he doesn’t care.

Original, nonconformist: the Bembry way.

“I’ve been called a bunch of stuff, like ‘Jackson 5’ and ‘mushroom head,’” Bembry said. “For me, it’s all about being different. A lot of people try and do what they see others do and I feel like this is something that actually stands out. It’s not in my plans to twist my hair right now. I want to be different and have my own wave.”

Howdy!

Well, Game 1 of the Hawks’ playoff series against the Washington Wizards is in the books and it didn’t exactly go well. So, a brief discussion about the things that went wrong in that game before a brief lookahead to Wednesday’s Game 2

Enjoy Game 2!

The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 1 of their best-of-7 series against the Washington Wizards, coming out second-best in an ugly 114-107 encounter at Verizon Center. John Wall led the Washington Wizards with a new playoff-high of 32 points and 14 assists while Bradley Beal added 22 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 25 points.

Turnovers prove costly

From our playoff preview:

Turnovers were a big factor in the regular season-series and whichever team takes care of the ball (and in the process, limits the opposing team’s points off of turnovers) is going to have a huge advantage over the other.

It was indeed a big factor in Game 1 and it was the Wizards who were the ones who took care of the ball while the Hawks were the ones who coughed it up. The Hawks committed 21 total turnovers which led to 23 Washington points. There wasn’t really one specific player who ran up the turnover counter (though Millsap did have four), everyone contributed in that department. The one thing the Wizards love to do is run and get out in transition, and when you fuel them with turnovers they’ll churn out the fast break/turnover points.

Here, Kelly Oubre Jr. gets an arm on a pass from Ersan Ilyasova to Tim Hardaway Jr., and Oubre takes advantage with a dunk in transition.

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In 2015, the Atlanta Hawks met the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semi-finals after both teams knocked off the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors in the first round respectively. The Wizards took Game 1 in Atlanta but an injury to John Wall’s hand marred the victory. Wall would sit out Games 2, 3, and 4 with the injury before returning for Game 5 but clearly wasn’t 100%. The series was tied at 2-2 when Wall returned and the Wizards would go on to drop Games 5 and 6 as the Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While the Hawks celebrated their trip to the Conference Finals, the Wizards were left to wonder what could’ve been had John Wall been healthy. The Wizards believed, had Wall been healthy, they would’ve advanced to the Conference Finals.

“In my opinion, we should’ve won 4-1.”

— Bradley Beal

“You take away Al Horford or Jeff Teague from their team for three games, the series would be totally different. I’m a big key to this team. This team can still do great things without me. Those guys competed and gave themselves a chance to win. But I feel like if I was there we would have had a better opportunity of winning the series and probably could have went up 2-0 on the road like the Toronto series and came home with some momentum, and tried to close these guys out. But everything happens for a reason.”

— John Wall

“Healthy John. That’s all we’re missing. I think if he played all the games, I think we’d still be in the season today. That’s my opinion.”

— Marcin Gortat

And to close out:

“I give them credit. I always give a team credit. I give Atlanta credit. That’s a tremendous team. They’ve been playing like that all year. They’ve been playing great basketball. But whenever you’re playing against me, even if you beat me, I’m a sore loser. They didn’t really beat us.”

— Bradley Beal

“They didn’t really beat us”…

Those quotes came a few days after the Wizards exited the playoffs but I can’t imagine those feelings are much different now. The Wizards’ feelings about the 2015 playoffs are clear.

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Happy ‘Almost-the-playoffs’ to you!

A new episode of This Week in the Hawks is here for your listening pleasure. Topics today basically cover:

  • The playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and where the Hawks fit into things and other playoff talk
  • Recap of the Cavs game

Doesn’t sound like much but there’s plenty of things to discuss at this time of the season in those two topics, as you can imagine.

Thanks for listening! Likes/ReTweets are always appreciated.

The Atlanta Hawks completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in NBA history on Sunday afternoon, having trailed by 26 points in the fourth quarter they took the game to overtime where the eventually prevailed 126-125 over the defending NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving (45 points) and LeBron James (32 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) combined for 77 points. Paul Millsap scored 22 points (including the game-tying shot at the end of the fourth quarter) while Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points.

In the process, the Hawks also won the season series 3-1.

Standings watch

The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed, holding a game advantage against the Milwaukee Bucks while also owning the tiebreaker over the Bucks. For the Hawks to fall out of the 5-seed now, they would have to lose their final two games (vs. Charlotte and @ Indiana) while the Bucks would have to win their last two games (vs. Charlotte and @ Boston).

With the Washington Wizards now locked into the 4-seed, it seems as though that Wizards-Hawks is going to be the first round matchup we’ll see. A Bucks loss on Monday would all but guarantee (depending on the Indiana Pacers, who sit two games adrift of the Hawks, whose the tiebreaker with the Hawks is yet to be decided) that matchup tonight.

Comeback of comebacks

A giant heading here, sure, why not?

The Hawks came back from a 26 point deficit in the fourth quarter and the Hawks PR Twitter account, postgame, tweeted a whole bunch of great stats surrounding the comeback:

(Those three occasions of coming back from 20-or-more points would be @ Milwaukee back on December 9th, @ Houston on February 2nd and now vs. Cleveland. Of course, the two occurrences of coming back from 20-or-more points in the fourth are those Houston and Cleveland games)

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The Atlanta Hawks shrugged off disappointing losses against the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets with a huge home win against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in a game that held huge playoff implications for both teams. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 35 while Jae Crowder added 24 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 26 points while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 points.

Standings watch

The Hawks moved back into the fifth seed following the Milwaukee Bucks’ loss against the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks hold the tiebreaker over the Bucks should the two teams finish with equal records. Behind the Hawks, the Bulls and the Pacers sit just 1.5 games back while the Miami Heat sit half a game behind them.

For the Hawks going forward, these next two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers could be make-or-break for their playoff seeding.

Offensive first half carries Hawks to huge win

The Hawks are not a good offensive team. You only need to watch a few of their games this season to figure that out and the numbers would support that belief. They rank 21st in points per game and 28th in offensive rating…you can put two-and-two together.

Last night, however, was one of the Hawks’ best offensive nights in a long time and their 71 point first half arguably one of the best halves the Hawks have put together this season: 71 points on 54% shooting from the field, 50% from behind the arc, 12-of-14 from the free throw line, 15 assists, four turnovers and an offensive rating of 144.4 on a true shooting percentage of 65%.

A pretty decent half, you might say.

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With the regular season winding down rapidly, every remaining game for the Atlanta Hawks is a must-win game. They’re currently locked in a playoff scrap against the Milwaukee Bucks for the 5-seed, with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers just 1.5 games behind the Hawks occupying the 7th, 8th and 9th seeds. Every game is so important. It is essential for the Hawks to avoid those 7 and 8 seeds. They should want absolutely no part of a round one series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could finish 1st or 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

But while the Hawks are furiously engaged in their own playoff race they are set to play a major part in another playoff race — the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are separated by just one game. With three meetings with these two contenders in the last five games of the regular season, no other team in the NBA has more of a say in who claims the top seed in the East than the Hawks do.

And it all starts on Thursday night when the Hawks tackle the Celtics — who are on the second night of a back-to-back having been blown out by the Cavs on Wednesday night — at Philips Arena in another throwback night, donning the Pete Maravich-era jerseys. The season series is tied 1-1 with the both teams winning games in each other’s building. While the Hawks shouldn’t settle a first round series against the Celtics (if that’s what it came to), the Celtics are probably the one team out of Cleveland, Boston and Washington that the Hawks would prefer to face in a round two matchup, should they get there.

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Mike Budenholzer announced at practice on Wednesday that Thabo Sefolosha would not play in Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Budenholzer had suggested yesterday that Thabo would sit, stating that there was a “little more uncertainty,” and that there was “not a lot to update there,” before confirming that he would be missing his sixth straight game today. Sefolosha’s right groin strain could very well keep the swingman out for at least one of the Hawks’ home-and-homes against the Cleveland Cavaliers this Friday and Sunday.

As of now, there is no indication as to who would start in his place, but the past five games have seen rookie Taurean Prince in the starting 3-spot vacated by Sefolosha’s injury. Prince will likely take the bulk of the 26 minutes that Thabo averages when he is on the court on Thursday — as he has been these past five games.