Archives For Al Horford

The 2017-18 NBA GM surveys are out, which means: let the arguments commence. Similar to all-star voting, the survey tends to slight at least one person. This year, that would be Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. The question posed: Which head coach has the best defensive schemes? Budenholzer received no votes.

It was a surprising omission, to say the least, given what Budenholzer has accomplished in just four years as the head coach. Budenholzer’s Hawks teams have averaged a 104.15 defensive rating and have never finished no lower than seventh in opponent points in the paint per game over the last three seasons. His tactics intertwine with the strengths of his players and that in itself should be a respected capability. Paul Millsap not only logged his best career numbers offensively under Budenholzer, but Bud’s system resulted in a 2.9 defensive box plus/minus average for ‘Sap over his four years—he averaged 1.9 in Utah for seven seasons.

The same can be said for a defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha and sharpshooter Kyle Korver, both of whom recorded their best DBPM in Bud’s system, which involves a heavy dose of ball trapping by the guards/wings. Longtime Hawk Al Horford played six seasons before Budenholzer’s arrival and has always been among the best defensive players at his position. However, he didn’t notch his highest defensive win shares until the 2015-16 season.

The examples are endless, but we can’t ignore how much reputation plays a role in the voting. Gregg Popovich’s mystic is one so strong that it’s plausible his accomplishments are the only reason he came in first over Budenholzer, especially after the two spent 17 years side by side, the former the boss of the latter, on San Antonio’s bench. However, Atlanta’s defensive scheme is as demanding as Popovich’s—or Thibodeau’s, the second place finisher of that GM question—and I can assure you that no player will touch the floor without giving an all-out effort on the defensive side of the ball—just ask any Hawks rookie over the last four years.

Defense comes first and foremost in Atlanta, which has resulted in opponents shooting just 43.8 percent from the field over the last three seasons. Yes, the Hawks did struggle guarding the three-point line last season, but a look at Budenholzer’s entire tenure as Atlanta’s coach and you would see that his average opponent three-point percentage is among the lowest in the league. He’s won at a high level—a 57 percent winning record to be exact—and a lot of that has to do with how attuned his ballclub is on the defensive end. Just nine current coaches have a higher winning percentage than Budenholzer. Out of that group, only two have finished with a top-five defensive rating more than once over the last four seasons—Popovich and Kerr. Only six of those coaches have had longer head coaching experience.

Defense is his staple, and he’s damn good at it. Whenever the Hawks experience a rough stretch of games, I assure you the following practices will be focused on defense, defense, defense—revisiting defensive principles and adjustments, re-examining defensive roles, etc. The lineups may change, but the defensive principles will be the same this season, as it always is—swarming, tricky and suffocating.

 

Philips Arena has rightfully earned the nickname “The Highlight Factory” from all the spectacular plays that have echoed from the arena, all the way down Peachtree Street. I remember, when I was a younger man, watching Dikembe Mutombo deny more potential highlights than I could count. However, recently, it dawned on me just how many Hawks have completed a jaw-dropping, otherworldly poster.

So I decided to come up with the list you see below. Enjoy.

10. Jeff Teague over Kevin Durant

Scene: November 5, 2012, at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Two minutes left in the second quarter.

Jeff Teague: “Easy lane to the basket.”

Kevin Durant: “Oh, its just Jeff Teague. I’m blocking this with ease. This finna be a breeze!”

Jeff Teague:

9. Josh Smith mimics Kobe Bryant and Ricky Davis by flushing one on Steve Nash.

Nash has dished out plenty of L’s in his Hall of Fame career, but we shouldn’t forget his blunders. He meant well, but that doesn’t mean it always ended well. Three posters that I can recall and every one of them ended with a Nash receiving a blocking foul. Good Lord.

 

8. Al Horford skies over Kevin Love (Round 2, Game 3 of the 2016 Playoffs).

Al Horford literally sat on Love’s shoulder; take note of how Love’s teammates didn’t even venture near the crime scene. When you get boomed on you are on your own–that’s the code.

 

7. Paul Millsap over John Henson

Trillsap sent Henson back to UNC with this banger. Made the kid re-enroll with a double major and a full-time job just to forget his past life. What a shame.

 

6.  Bradley Beal meet Mike Scott–Mike Scott meet Bradley Beal.

Dominique said it best here: “What are you doing?” And to Beal’s credit, he did the right thing—just at the wrong time.

5. More Mike Scott, this time on Ian Mahinmi’s head.

 

4. Dominique Wilkins over everybody

 

3. Not a poster, but Spud Webb’s dunk against Magic & the Lakers deserves praise. Truly astonishing.

 

2.  Josh Smith dunks on Serge Ibaka

 

1. Dominique double clutched off two feet, while contorting his body mid air and finished with authority. Greatness.

 

 

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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Happy Friday!

A new edition of This Week in the Hawks podcast has dropped. Today’s topics include:

  • The Hawks and Lamar Patterson parting ways
  • What the Hawks plan to do with the extra roster spot and who the Hawks might sign
  • Game recaps from the past week, including Atlanta’s huge win in Boston
  • Some stats from the last five days
  • A look ahead to next week’s fixtures, including Kyle Korver’s return to Atlanta

Thanks, as always, for listening. If you enjoyed the pod, you can always give it an ‘aul ReTweet. That’d be cool.

Have a good weekend!

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks — behind an excellent second half — ended their three game skid with an excellent road victory against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Monday night. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points on 4-of-21 shooting, ending his 43 game streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game.

He’s had an incredible run at it, and you’re going to have nights like that. That’s certainly the case. But you know, again, I think we should also credit Atlanta. I feel like Atlanta deserves to be credited for (their defense); I thought they played great.”

— Coach Brad Stevens

Former Hawk Al Horford scored six points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Dwight’s eventful night

Eventful is certainly one way to describe Dwight Howard’s night… At least we’re not talking about some Schröder-Thomas nonsense, I suppose…

Dwight was having a very decent game. He had the advantage over the Celtics when it came to rebounding (grabbing six offensive rebounds and 12 overall), he was hitting the majority of his free throws and he was playing good defense…things were going great. Then the third quarter happened. Things got a little chippy with Al Horford, Dwight taking exception to a foul that Horford committed.

Dwight earned — and it was well earned — a technical foul for that shove. After Horford picked up his fourth foul, Dwight’s game continued to trend upwards, enjoying favorable match-ups in Horford’s absence. And then…then this happened (yay, timestamps):

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The Atlanta Hawks scored a solid defensive performance against the Boston Celtics winning 114-98 for their first win since the All-Star break. With the win, the Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak and are now three games in the loss column behind the division-eading Washington Wizards.

Dennis Schroder finished with 21 points last night, corralling his 22nd game of scoring at least 20 points this season. How good is that? Schroder had 10 games of 20 points or more entering this season! Dwight Howard (more on him later) scored 17 points and grabbed a team high 12 rebounds. Paul Millsap, still in his All-Star form, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Atlanta’s losing streak was not the only streak that was snapped, another historical streak was snapped. It was one of my…

Three lessons…

Lesson number one… Isaiah Thomas’ 20 points in a game streak is OVER!

Boston Celtics All-Star guard, Isaiah Thomas saw his franchise-record streak of 43 games with 20 points or more go by the wayside Monday night. Thomas had a bad night shooting finishing with 19 points on an anemic 4-for-21 shooting in 31 minutes of action. Throw in seven turnovers, and let’s just say the Hawks had him basically on lock all night long. This marks only the second time all season long that Thomas didn’t tally 20 points in a game. Continue Reading…

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The period after the All-Star break is one of my favorite periods of the NBA season. We know what teams are good, what teams suck and you have a frenzy of teams who are gunning for the playoffs/playoff seeding, potentially trying to implement exciting new pieces along the way. It’s this final run-in before the playoffs that I enjoy so much. Almost everyone has something to play/lose for.

And that brings me to today’s topic: how are the Atlanta Hawks looking heading into the last leg of the regular season?

The Hawks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, sitting just half a game back of the Toronto Raptors, 2.5 games behind the Washington Wizards and four games back of the Boston Celtics for the second seed.

The Hawks haven’t played particularly great over the last few weeks and have pulled out games they had no right in winning (e.g. Houston). That said, the Hawks are right there in the mix for home court advantage despite not playing too well so it makes you wonder, if they did play well, how high in the standings this team could actually finish?

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Happy Friday and happy All-Star break!

Episode 9 of This Week in the Hawks covers a whole range of lovely topics including:

  • Mike Budenholzer confirming that Paul Millsap will not be traded
  • Some Larry Sanders talk
  • The Hawks looking to add talent ahead of the trade deadline, what they need and what’s out there
  • Game recaps from the Hawks’ three game Western Conference road trip
  • And some team and player stats from the last five games

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed, perhaps consider giving this an ‘aul ReTweet and apologies again for any audio issues, still figuring out the kinks of a new setup. You know how it goes.

Hello there. It’s that time of the week again, Episode 4 of This Week in the Hawks has dropped.

Topic this week include:

  • Eastern Conference All-Star talk and the case for Paul Millsap
  • News from the Hawks-sphere this week including the signing of Gary Neal
  • Game recaps from the four games the Hawks played this week (Friday-to-Friday)
  • Notable stats from the week, who’s in form and who’s out of form
  • A preview of next week’s fixtures
  • And how to eat a Cadbury’s Creme Egg, of course.

Thanks very much for listening!

Catch more audio content from HawksHoop on audioBoom.

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Monday afternoon’s game against the New York Knicks marked the Atlanta Hawks’ 41st game of the regular season, the halfway point of the Hawks’ regular season. It has certainly been a topsy-turvy 41 games to say the least and with the Hawks not in action until tomorrow, now seems like a good time to breakdown the Hawks’ season so far using a number of different headings and awards.

Team stats

Let’s go through the splits — and where in the league the Hawks rank — first and then we’ll have a lovely little chat about it.

(Stats courtesy of NBA.com and basketball-reference and are correct as of January 16th)

Record: 24-17 (4th in the East, 11 overall)

PPG: 103 (19th)

FG%: 45.6% (14th)

3PM: 9 (19th)

3P%: 34.6% (23rd)

FT%: 71.8% (28th)

RPG: 44 (13th)

ORPG (offensive rebounds per game): 10.6 (12th)

APG: 24.1 (6th)

SPG: 8.7 (3rd)

BPG: 5.1 (10th)

TOV: 15.5 (25th)

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