Archives For Al Horford

The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals (93-104) on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as LeBron James led the way (as he so often does) with 25 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Kyrie Irving added another 21 points to Cleveland’s cause. The Hawks still have an opportunity to capture home court advantage when the two teams go at it again on Wednesday for Game 2.

There’s lots to get to today because, as always, the Hawks know how to make things interesting for Hawks bloggers/writers etc.

A very winnable game escapes Atlanta’s grasp

The Hawks had, somehow, managed to keep themselves within arms length of the Cavaliers (10-ish points) when they ought to have been down by at least 20. However, as much as the Hawks were one run away from making this a game, the Cavaliers were always one run away from blowing this game wide open.

And that’s exactly what happened in the third quarter, as a 12-4 Cavs run meant that the Hawks were suddenly trailing by 18 points, with the crowd fully engaged fresh off of a thunderous LeBron dunk that put the Cavs up 72-54. Now all of a sudden the Hawks have gone from within a run of being in this game, to being in real danger of being blown out in Game 1 — how was their response? Immediate. Mike Scott canned a three-pointer to immediately hush the home crowd, the Hawks got a stop the other way, and then Dennis Schröder drained another three-pointer. In the blink of an eye the deficit was just 12 and the Cavs called for a timeout.

Great initial response from the Hawks not bury their heads after what could’ve been a game breaker for so many teams. A power-dunk from LeBron that put the Cavs up by 18 in the third quarter, with the crowd going nuts. Many teams never recover from that, but I think Mike Scott (being Mike Scott and doing Mike Scott things) shooting and making that three was massive at that time for the Hawks. The crowd is instantly hushed after that shot, and that helps the Hawks in their quest to get another stop. It fuelled the comeback. Never change, Mike Scott…

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The Atlanta Hawks are now on the brink of a second round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they blew out the Celtics 110-83 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Celtics were led by Evan Turner’s 15 points while the Hawks were led by Mike Scott’s — yes, Mike Scott’s Game 5 game high — 17 points. The scene now shifts to Boston for Game 6 where the Hawks will have the chance to close out the Celtics for good on Thursday night.

Limiting Isaiah Thomas

Heading into Game 5, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t just the top scorer of this series, but the top scorer of the entire playoffs, averaging 28 points. After he averaged 35 points between Games 3 and 4, the Hawks had an adjustment waiting for Thomas. A lot more trapping and double team action.

They basically forced Thomas to give up the ball and said to the other Celtics “Hey, you go make a play, you make this shot”.

And the Hawks set this tone very early in the game. Here, they try to trap Thomas by extending the double team near the halfway line. Thomas is forced to give the ball up, forcing Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson to try and make a play. In the end, Johnson gets tied up with Bazemore for a jump ball.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 4 in Boston in OT, 95-104, on Sunday evening. The loss means that the series is now tied 2-2 heading back to Atlanta for Game 5 on Tuesday. The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas’s 28 points, and… we’ll get to the Hawks’ leading scorer right now, in greater detail

Millsap’s career night marred by others not making shots

After struggling in the first three games of this series, Paul Millsap turned in the greatest scoring night of his career, scoring 45 points on 19-31 shooting — the most points scored by any Hawk in the playoffs since Dominique Wilkins back in the late 80’s. That’s just incredible, and Millsap was just incredible.

“Just put an emphasis on being aggressive, I felt like I wasn’t aggressive in the first three games and especially on the road, your backs against the wall you got to be aggressive. So, I just wanted to do that tonight and set a tone that way.” — Paul Millsap

“He was our offense. … His performance was amazing. That Paul Millsap right there was pretty awesome. He was in a funk the first couple of games. We knew that he was due to explode. It was good to see. That was the only positive out of this game.” — Al Horford

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The Boston Celtics gave themselves life in this series as they defeated the Hawks 111-103 in Game 3. The Hawks now carry a 2-1 series heading into Game 4 on Sunday. Isaiah Thomas led Boston to victory with a career high 42 points on 12-of-24 shooting. For the Hawks, they were led by Jeff Teague’s 23 points.

The Isaiah Thomas slap/punch on Dennis Schröder

Let’s just address the elephant in the room now and get it over with.

And I’m not sure what to call it, a punch or a slap… Whatever it was, it was pretty dirty and cheap from Thomas either way. If you haven’t seen it…

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In what was a defensive — and at times ugly — affair the Atlanta Hawks triumphed (89-72) over the Boston Celtics to take Game 2 and, with it, a 2-0 series lead in the first round. Kyle Korver and Al Horford both notched 17 points for the Hawks, while Isaiah Thomas led the way with 16 points for the Celtics.

First quarter blitz

In the last few games before the playoffs began, and Game 1 of this series, the Boston Celtics have been known to start the game off very slowly and this has left themselves facing an uphill battle from the very early stages of the game. That trend continued in Game 2, as the Hawks bolted out of the gates to take a 24-3 lead in the first seven minutes, eventually ending the first quarter with a 24-7 advantage (despite not scoring in the final 5:28).

The two teams would score the exact same number of points in the final three periods (65) so, in the end, the difference in this game was the first quarter. There were a few reasons why the Hawks blitzed the Celtics in the first quarter, let’s start with the Hawks defense, which fuelled everything else and set the tone for the rest of the game.

This was one of the first defensive possessions of the game. The Celtics try to run their offense, and it ends up with Jae Crowder attempting to get the ball over to Marcus Smart. Kent Bazemore reads the play, picks off the pass, and gets out in the open floor. He turns down the option to set up Kyle Korver and gets the friendly toilet rim roll on his three-point attempt.

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The Atlanta Hawks drew first blood in their round one matchup against the Boston Celtics, 101-102, to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague and Al Horford, who both registered  double-doubles, while the Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas’ 27 points and eight assists.

Kent Bazemore also had a great game for the Hawks, scoring 23 points and was a constant menace to the Celtics’ defense with his cutting action.

A tale of two halves

The Celtics were pretty poor on the offensive end in the first half — 12-of-52 (23.1%) shooting and 2-of-16 (12.5%) from behind the arc made for a very disappointing first half for the Celtics. Bad shots, settling for jump shots, and some great defense displayed by the Hawks limited the Celtics to 34 first half points. However, sometimes words simply aren’t enough, and with that I present you the Celtics’ first half shot chart.

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Atlanta came into the game as the veteran team and they responded like one lead behind a strong fourth quarter performance from Jeff Teague in a 102-101 Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics.

“Last year was a great run for us, Eastern Conference Finals,” said Kent Bazemore in postgame. “Going that deep it does help, some people think it does not just because it’s a different year. Experience at times does beat talent.”

“I have been in the playoff every year, so I’m used to how it goes,” said Jeff Teague, who scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. “You cant get too high when you win and you cant get too low when you lose. We have a veteran group around here. We have been through some wars.”

Two teams that mirror one another in many ways were easily distinguished by defensive intensity early on. Even with the playoff experience from last season, Boston looked as if that experience had never happened in the first half. For most of it, Isaiah Thomas probed and probed searching for a soft spot in the Hawks defensive shield, but to no avail. The team shot just 23-percent from the field and 12.5-percent from downtown.

Surely, the Hawks were aware of the fight Boston has shown throughout this season, just recently coming behind from a 20 point deficit to defeat the Miami Heat. They trailed by 17 after the first half against Atlanta.

“They are great team coming from behind,” said Bazemore. “You look at the last regular season game, down huge to Miami. They came out in the third quarter to make it interesting. They have some blue collard guys over there that I really respect. They are not going to quit.” Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks will begin their playoff quest on Saturday night, at Philips Arena, against the Boston Celtics. The two teams share quite a few similarities: both share a 48-33 record, both teams have players who are under appreciated throughout the league in Paul Millsap and Jae Crowder (who, in my personal opinion, should’ve been Boston’s All-Star representative), and both teams have excellent coaches in Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer who play similar styles of basketball.

The Hawks won the season series 3-1, their only loss coming on November 13th — the one game Mike Budenholzer was not with the team, due to personal reasons. Let’s have a look at the season series stats between the two teams.

hawks-c's stats

A couple of interesting things here.

The Hawks have had no problem scoring against the Celtics. An average of 110.3 points against the Celtics in four games is a concern for the Celtics in their preparation. The Hawks shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three is also a problem, the Celtics will have to make things more difficult for the Hawks if they want to stick around in these games.

I didn’t add the offensive rebounding numbers for the Celtics (10.8 per game against the Hawks, by the way), but it’ll be interesting to see how Atlanta deals with Johnson, Sullinger, and Crowder on the glass. The Hawks only average 1.5 less second chance points than the Celtics in the season series, so I didn’t see that aspect of the series being that important.

So, there are the season series stats for your viewing pleasure. But what about everything else? What are the keys to this series?

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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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