Clinching the 3-seed is unquestionably a present goal for the Atlanta Hawks, but performances like tonight against a high caliber opponent like the Boston Celtics is more paramount heading into postseason.

“The most important thing for us is to keep winning and playing well,” said Al Horford. “That’s the most important thing.”

Atlanta’s defense was at the top of Budenholzer’s list for most important adjustment to make at the half. The Hawks’ defensive coverages, mainly its ability to guard the 3-point line, were a tad bit late and against a team that moves the ball as well as Boston, that leads to them shooting 59% from downtown and scoring 71 points in just 24 minutes.

“We were just making mental mistakes, so many mental mistakes on the defensive end of the floor,” said Kyle Korver. “Against a good team, you cant make those mistakes. You cant just try and run the coverage, you have to be great.”

In the second half, they looked great, lead by Paul Millsap’s energy — 17 of his 31 points came in the 2nd half — and a collective defensive conscious to make life just a little harder on Boston. One thing about these Hawks is that they always seem to find a way to make adjustments without sacrificing their identity in the process. They came out with mindset to force more ball pressure on pick and rolls at the top, but to never over-extend too much, leading to mismatch after mismatch. This is what repeatedly occurred in the first half.

That began with the head of the snake, All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who shot just 2-for-12 from the field in the second half along with three turnovers. They then made a valiant effort on reacting much sooner within their coverages on the 3-point line in order to limit or contest the Celtics attempts from the three point line. (just 1-for-11 in the second half)

Coach Budenholzer later spoke about the success of these adjustments.

“Sometimes there are subtle changes, every teams does different things -o pick and rolls — you try to have a few things that you can use. To be honest with you, we looked at some clips at halftime. There was basic breakdowns, and there was some shot-making. I think we thought we could reduce our mistakes and not give some open looks and opportunities.” Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks took one giant step forward in realising their goal of home court advantage following a 118-107 home victory against the Boston Celtics, in what was the Hawks’ final home game of the regular season. The Celtics were led by Marcus Smart’s 19 points off of the Boston bench, while the Hawks were led by a monster effort from Paul Millsap — 31 points and 16 rebounds.

Standings watch…

The night before this game, the Miami Heat dropped a game in Orlando against the Magic, relinquishing Miami’s control of the third seed as they own the tie breaker over the Hawks. That loss, and this Hawks win, effectively means that the third seed in the East is now, officially, Atlanta’s to lose. The Hawks now have a one game advantage over the Celtics and the Heat with just two games remaining, meaning the magic number for the Hawks to clinch home court advantage is just one.

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The Atlanta Hawks avoided a regular season series sweep against the Toronto Raptors with a 95-87 victory at Philips Arena last night. The win doesn’t change the overall complexion of the season series — the Raptors winning the series 3-1 — but it was a good note to end the season series on.

The Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan’s, who both scored 16 points apiece, while the Hawks were led by Jeff Teague’s 23 point outing and Paul Millsap’s double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Quick playoff seeding implications…

Last night’s victory kept the Hawks in third place in the East, however, the Miami Heat picked up a big win last night against the Bulls to keep the pressure on the Hawks. The Heat play the Magic in Orlando tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, and the Hawks will have to hope that the Heat drop a game if they want to remain as the third seed, as the Heat own the tiebreaker over the Hawks.

In saying that, the Hawks have to focus on their own schedule, and there may not be a bigger game than Saturday’s home tilt against the Boston Celtics, who are right behind the Hawks in the standings.

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The Atlanta Hawks avenged their rough mid-season loss to the Phoenix Suns with a 103-90 victory at Philips Arena last night. After Archie Goodwin threw up a three-point prayer in Phoenix, and nailed it with 0.1 seconds remaining, the Hawks made sure to take care of their business, and beat the Suns as everyone believed they would.

The Suns were led by Devin Booker’s 34 points, while the Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s near triple-double effort (which we’ll cover in greater detail), and Al Horford’s double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Quick playoff implications

With the Charlotte Hornets dropping a game to the Toronto Raptors last night, the Hawks moved 1.5 games clear of the Hornets and remain in control of the third seed. Although, to keep that third seed they will need to put some distance between themselves and the Miami Heat, who are one game behind Atlanta having played a game less — and own the tiebreaker having won the season series.

Weathering the storm

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The Atlanta Hawks lost a heartbreaker last night at Philips Arena, as they were defeated 110-108 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. LeBron James led the Cavaliers with a LeBron-like/playoff-like stat line of 29 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, and one block. Kyrie Irving also added 20 points the Cavs’ cause.

The Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s double-double — 29 points, 12 rebounds — and Jeff Teague’s 28 points and nine assists.

A valiant effort

A valiant, heartbreaking, terrible, then amazing, spirited, sometimes passionless, sometimes passionate game. So many contrasting emotions.

The Hawks were looking good with a lead of 19-14 in the first quarter until the Cavaliers ripped off a 13-0 run near the end of the first quarter to give themselves a nine point lead heading into the second quarter. OK, a nine point deficit — not too bad. It’s not ideal but it’s fine.

What wasn’t fine was the Hawks’ effort in the second quarter. They looked as though they were afraid to drive toward the rim and, as such, settled for a lot of jump shots. Here is the Hawks’ second quarter shot chart. Warning, there’s a lot of red.

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The Hawks dropped their third game this season against the Toronto Raptors after succumbing to a 105-97 defeat at the ACC last night. Thankfully for the Hawks, they didn’t lose much ground in Eastern Conference home court advantage race as the Miami Heat — somehow — managed to lose to the turmoil infested Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 26 points, while Kyle Lowry also added a double-double — 17 points and 11 assists. For the Hawks, Jeff Teague poured out 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

A quick congratulations…

Well done to the Toronto Raptors for winning their 50th game last night — their first 50 win campaign in franchise history. Well earned.

Hawks just outplayed

Having struggled in their last few games, the Toronto Raptors came out to play last night. A whole bunch of Hawks players struggled on the offensive end — Paul Millsap shot 3-of-8, Al Horford shot 3-of-9, and Kyle Korver shot just 1-of-6. Korver noted that the Hawks left a lot of points out there in the early exchanges.

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The Atlanta Hawks completed the four game season series sweep of the Chicago Bulls with a 102-100 victory at the United Center.

The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose’s 20 point performance and Pau Gasol’s double-double — 19 points and 11 rebounds. Not to talk too much about the Bulls — with this being a Hawks page and all — but this was a crushing blow for the Bulls and their playoff hopes. They sit 2.5 games adrift of the Pistons — tied now with the Washington Wizards for ninth in the east  — for the eighth seed with just nine games remaining. Not good. Anyways…

A nervy ending, but a solid win

Boy, the Hawks sure know how to make you nervous. The Hawks seemed to have control of this game in the fourth quarter — up 13 with 8:37 remaining in the fourth. But the Bulls had other ideas…

The two guard lineup of Rose and Brooks caused some issues in the fourth quarter. They combined for 16 points and combined for a +/- rating of plus- 15. Teague guarded Brooks, and Korver was — for some reason — left to guard Rose and that didn’t go so well. Aaron Brooks also made some ridiculous plays in the fourth quarter and he really brought the crowd back into the game.

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The Atlanta Hawks recorded their 11th win in their last 13 games with the successful conquering of the Detroit Piston last night — 112-95. The Pistons’ push for the playoff still remains strong, as Indiana and Chicago also dropped games last night. Andre Drummond put up 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Tobias Harris led the team in scoring with 21 points. Paul Millsap led the way for the Hawks, and we’ll get to his stat line in good time.

The Hawks rested Thabo Sefolosha last night, who was feeling a little stiff after Friday’s victory in Washington.

The best performance of the season

Whoa, whoa! Steady on, Graham. The best performance of the season?? Against the Pistons? What about the game versus Houston before the new year? Or the Indiana battering earlier this month? Or rallying from 17 down to beat the Clippers by double digits?

Sure, these are all very nice wins against quality opposition (you’re looking quite sheepish there, Houston…), but it was the way the Hawks played last night rather than the quality opposition — who are still a playoff contending team with a record above .500.

I’ll give you the stats from last night and you tell me if the Hawks have had a better victory than this one:

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No matter the record or seeding, some teams just give you a tough time.

For Atlanta, that has been the Milwaukee Bucks so far this season after defeating them three out of the four meetings last year. But this year has been a different story, as the Bucks have defeated Atlanta twice with both games defeats ending in overtime. This matchup has a boxing match feel to it, two contrasting styles, Rocky versus Drago.

This one ended with Atlanta’s arm being raised up last winning 101-90, capturing their first win over the Bucks this season.

“At the end of the day they are in the top two or three, if not the best at scoring in the paint,”said Coach Mike Budenholzer. “We wanted to do everything we could to take that away.”

Hawks only trailed momentarily in the first couple minutes of the game, but never did thereafter despite not shooting the ball well — 42.3% from the field and 15.6% from 3 — because of yet another strong defensive effort. Milwaukee’s length and athleticism are the main reasons the Hawks have such a difficult time running their offense. The Bucks decided this game to place more emphasis on the Hawks 3-point attempts, which meant more opportunities inside for Atlanta. They were able to capitalize, scoring 58 points in the paint.

On defense, Atlanta decided to pack the paint and limit the longer Bucks from points in the paint. Games like is just another testament to the Atlanta’s ability to win in a variety of ways, which will come in handy in late April or May. This time instead of their usual emphasis on aggressively guarding perimeter players, they showed the ability to clog the paint and still be effective.

“This is a team that has given us problems over the last couple years,” said Kyle Korver post-game. “They are a tough team for us to play against. We wanted to protect the paint and force them to shoot from the outside. It is important for us to grind games out against a team thats big when we are not shooting the ball that well.” Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks continued their charge toward home court advantage with a 101-90 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Jeff Teague added another 18 points to the cause. For the Bucks, Jabari Parker poured in 19 points and eight rebounds.

Teague Time in the fourth quarter

When Dennis Schröder picked up his fifth foul just before the end of the third quarter, you knew that you’d see a heavy dose of Jeff Teague in the fourth quarter — and he delivered. Teague scored 12 points in the final period, in which he played 11 minutes and 47 seconds. Teague admitted, after the game, that he had “sucked” until the fourth quarter and made a concerted effort to attack the rim in the fourth.

“I sucked the rest of the game so I tried to do something to help the team when I was out there on the floor.”

“It was just me attacking. I think I was being a little casual just seeing what the defense would give me. I made a concerted effort to drive the ball.” — Jeff Teague

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