Deron Williams fell asleep at the wheel, cheating toward the 3-point line as DeMarre Carroll cut back door for an uncontested layup and a 92-89 Hawks lead with 55 seconds remaining. The Hawks closed out at the free throw line and defeated the Nets 96-91 at Phillips Arena to take a 2-0 series lead. The first-round series will now shift to Brooklyn for Game 3 Saturday at 3 PM and Game 4 Monday (time TBA).

The Hawks appeared to take control in the third quarter before Brooklyn staged a comeback in the fourth to make things a little too interesting. Pero Antić hit a 3-pointer with 4:39 to play in the third to restore a 63-61 lead to Atlanta as the Hawks closed the quarter on a 15-6 run. Kent Bazemore followed with a momentum-shifting block of a Brook Lopez layup attempt. The run included a thunderous dunk from Antić, a Paul Millsap 16-footer, a Mike Scott 3-pointer and an Al Horford layup as Atlanta led 75-67 through three quarters.

The fourth quarter opened with a Dennis Schröder blow-by of Jarrett Jack and a reverse layup for Bazemore set up by a beautiful pass from Horford. That extended the lead to 79-69. Millsap then hit his fourth 3-pointer on 4-for-4 shooting to put the Hawks in front 82-73 with 8:14 remaining. Horford then stuffed Deron Williams at the rim and nailed a 14-foot baseline jumper off a Schröder pass to put the Hawks up 84-73 with 7:37 left on the clock. Continue Reading…

The Hawks have officially announced the sale of the team to co-founder of Ares Managament, Tony Ressler.

“We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks,” said Ressler in the Hawks’ press release. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.”

The sale will including operating rights to Philips Arena. The terms of the sale were not released, but Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski — who broke the news of the sale being in the finalizing stages earlier today — reported earlier in the day that the sale would be for between $700 million and $900 million.

The ownership groups includes former NBA All-Star and NBA TV anchor Grant Hill and co-founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely and her husband Jess Itzler. The sale still must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

Earlier in the season I wrote about the numbers versus perception of Jeff Teague’s defense. While the numbers show that Teague has taken a dramatic step forward this season, the eye test still betrays lapses where Teague doesn’t give full effort.

The disconnect between perception and metrics is also startling for Dennis Schröder. While Teague often appears to be going through the motions, Schröder is always down in his stance with active hands. He’s quick, has an enormous wingspan and a reputation as an excellent defender. And yet, somehow Teague is ranked as the 9th-best defensive point guard in the NBA by ESPN.com’s Real Plus-Minus while Schröder is ranked 64th of 84 point guards rated.

At the bottom of this post you will find a continuation of a tradition I started during last year’s playoffs. I have compiled the “Enhanced Play-by-Play” for Game 1 and, at the end, listed the individual “defensive miscues” by play. These are instances where an advantage is created for an offensive player because a defender is out of position. Defensive miscues are not necessarily mistakes. Defensive scheme may call for a player to double team or guard a different area of the floor. Teams play the averages with their defensive schemes, but a defensive miscue happens when a defensive player makes a mistake or plays the averages and loses. Continue Reading…

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has won NBA Coach of the Year, winning the award with 67 first-place votes on his way to 513 points. Golden State’s Steve Kerr finished just behind Budenholzer with 56 first-place votes and 471 points. Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks finished a distant third with 1 first-place vote and 57 points.

The race between Budenholzer and Kerr has been too close to call all season, but the voters elected to go with Budenholzer after the Hawks’ franchise-record-breaking season that saw them win 60 games, including a perfect 17-0 in the month of January. The Hawks improved by 22 games over their 2013-14 record, the second largest jump in the league behind Kidd’s Bucks.

Coach Budenholzer has been with Atlanta for two seasons after 19 years under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

Full voting results are below, courtesy of Hawks.com.

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In the past few years, the Hawks have often not had much in terms of expectations for the playoffs. In those years, a win in Game 1 would have usually been seen as a huge victory.

On Sunday, the Hawks’ 99-92 Game 1 win over the Brooklyn Nets left something to be desired.

The 1-seed Hawks — with 60 wins and the status as the overwhelming favorite — got off to a strong start, outscoring the Nets 32-20 in the first quarter. The Hawks took advantage of six Brooklyn turnovers and were using them to create open looks on offense. This continued into the beginning of the second quarter, as the Hawks increased their lead up to 16 points and appeared to be well on their way to blowing out their opponent.

However, the Nets stopped turning the ball over and ramped up their defensive effort to start putting pressure on the Hawks. “We had turnovers early, but we finally cut down on our turnovers and figured out how to execute and score,” said Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. “We got ourselves back close in the game.” Continue Reading…

Please head on over to Brooklyn’s Finest, the ESPN TrueHoop Network affiliate covering the Brooklyn Nets. HawksHoop’s Jeff Siegel and I participated in a three-man weave with Josh Koebert and Paul Mitchell of Brooklyn’s Finest. For thoughts on Hawks-Nets throughout the series, follow Koebert and Mitchell (@PaulMitchellNBA, @JKoebert) for the Nets perspective and @jgsiegel of HawksHoop. Also, be sure to follow Brooklyn’s Finest editor and previous HawksHoop and Grantland contributor David Vertsberger (@_Verts) as well as the main Twitter for Brooklyn’s Finest (‏@BKsFinestTHN).

Atlanta Hawks, 60-22, 1st in the East ATL

Wow, what an incredible year for the Atlanta Hawks. Anybody that had watched the Hawks last year knew how injured they were, and how much better they were going to be this season, but 60 wins? Not even the most optimistic of Hawks fans believed that this team had that in them. They set all kinds of franchise records, got the entire city of Atlanta behind them in support, and they even brought back the old school pac man logo. Now, everything shifts. It would be easy to say that no matter what happens Atlanta had a successful season, but Hawks fans will say otherwise. This is a franchise that has never once been to the conference finals their entire time in Atlanta, despite years and years of going to the playoffs. Hawks fans are tired of being the constant image of mediocrity. It’s conference finals, or failure, with this team.

Washington Wizards, 46-36, 5th in the East WAS

Yeesh, the Washington Wizards had one heck of a weird season. They started off the year battling the Toronto Raptors for the number one seed in the entire conference, and had what felt like everybody on their bandwagon. Flash forward a few months and they’re in a nosedive towards the middle of the pack while teams like the Hawks, Bulls, and Cavs passed them. Now they enter the playoffs with the same seed as last year, arguably playing worse, and have to defeat those same Toronto Raptors. Bet both teams wish it was December again.
Continue Reading…

It’s been 47 years since Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Governor Carl Sanders bought the Hawks from Ben Kerner and relocated the team to Atlanta. Kerner also acted as the team’s general manager. Among his brilliant moves was the 1950 decision to sell Bob Cousy’s rights after refusing to pay the outrageous $10,000 salary he demanded, and the 1956 trade that sent Bill Russell to the Celtics.

Essentially, the Celtics dynasty would never have happened if not for the cheapness and incompetence of Hawks ownership. Sound familiar? If you’ve grown weary of the act, just know that it stretches all the way back to the founding of the NBA. Now, 47 years into the Atlanta iteration, we find ourselves on the doorstep of redemption.

Sometimes an athletic team finds itself in a whirlwind of negative publicity. Often that leads to finger pointing and strife that can derail a team’s aspirations. But sometimes players in that situation turn inward, embrace their teammates and insulate themselves from outside influences. On occasion, this leads to a team that exceeds all expectations. Continue Reading…

The 2014-15 regular season is over.

Just last year, the Hawks were fighting until the end of the season to secure a playoff berth and sneak into the postseason as the 8-seed in the East.

How things have changed in 365 days. The Hawks — having already secured the 1-seed in the East with 60 wins — have been taking things lightly for a while now, prepping their stars for rest in hopes of a deep playoff run. That rest included Wednesday night’s game against the Bulls, even though all five regular Hawks starters played at least 20 minutes. But when the fourth quarter started and no Atlanta starter was to be found on the court, the message from the team was clear:

The Hawks have bigger battles to fight soon and a 91-85 loss to the Bulls at the end of the regular season will have very little meaning in May and June. Continue Reading…

After trailing the Knicks at home by as much as 17, the Hawks tied the score at 87-87 on a Shelvin Mack 3-pointer with 9:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Hawks’ shaky perimeter defense then allowed the Knicks to hit three straight 3-pointers, including a pair by rookie Langston Galloway (6-for-6 on the night) and another by Lance Thomas, as the Knicks held on for a 112-108 victory in Atlanta. Overall, the Hawks allowed the Knicks to shoot 13-for-25 (52%) from 3-point range.

Galloway finished with 26 points, a career high, prompting Hawks radio voice Steve Holman to say he would include him on his Rookie of the Year ballot (media voters must include 10 names on their ballot).

“He’s definitely in my top 10 right now,” said Holman on the Hawks broadcast on 92.9 The Game. Continue Reading…