Archives For Atlanta Hawks

Within moments of the conclusion of the Hawks’ Game 2 loss, Hawks PR was churning out excuses and essentially conceding the series.

The Cavaliers have suffered injuries as well, but I doubt Cavs PR would be packing it in two games into the series. HawksHoop editor Bo Churney referred to the Hawks’ effort in Game 2 as “laughable.” In the most important game of their careers, Al Horford was minus-27, Paul Millsap scored four points on eight shots and Jeff Teague was humiliated by Matthew Dellavedova. Continue Reading…

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Chris Vivlamore tweeted that starting shooting guard Kyle Korver will be out for the remainder of the season with a severely sprained ankle suffered in Friday’s Game 2 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena.

@CVivlamoreAJC: BREAKING: Kyle Korver is OUT for the remainder of the playoffs with ankle injury.

Vivalmore followed up that there is no word on who will start in Korver’s place in Game 3 in Cleveland on Sunday. The Hawks already lost Thabo Sefolosha for the season to a broken leg suffered during his arrest by NYPD. Kent Bazemore seems the most likely candidate to start in Korver’s place. Following is the text of an Atlanta Hawks press release:

Hawks guard/forward Kyle Korver suffered a right ankle injury with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter of last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. X-rays performed at Philips Arena last night were negative. A follow-up MRI and examination this morning at the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic confirmed a severe high right ankle sprain. Korver will see a foot and ankle specialist to determine the best course of treatment. He is out for the remainder of the postseason.

LeBron James dunked with 37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to end a 13-1 run that drew the Atlanta Hawks within 91-87. Kent Bazemore’s layup with under a minute to play kept it close before James scored then combined with Iman Shumpert to ice the game at the free throw line. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 97-89 at Phillips Arena to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In worse news for the Hawks, DeMarre Carroll sprawled on the ground and writhed in agony after suffering what appeared to be a serious left knee injury with five minutes remaining in the fourth. Carroll had to be helped from the court as he was unable to put any weight on his left leg. His diagnosis will not be confirmed until he can get an MRI.

James finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal and JR Smith added 28 points (including 8-for-12 shooting from 3-point range), eight rebounds, three assists and a block. Cleveland seized control of the game with a 22-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Smith hit the second of consecutive 3-pointers with 2:30 to play in the third to put the Cavs in front 71-63, then opened the fourth with three more to put Cleveland ahead 85-67. He also assisted Tristan Thompson on an alley-oop during the run. Continue Reading…

It’s no secret that the Atlanta Hawks have struggled shooting the ball in the post-season. Playoff teams generally rank above average defensively, and defenses are highly-motivated with the season on the line. But the Hawks’ shooting struggles can’t entirely be written off as the result of playoff defense. The Hawks are generating 20.6 wide-open shots (defined by NBA.com as a shot taken with no defender within six feet), by far the most of any playoff team, but have seen a drop in shooting percentage even on these shots.

During the regular season, Atlanta shot 46.1% from the field and 39.4% from 3-point range on wide-open shots. In the playoffs, those numbers have dropped to 41.7% from the field and 37.3% from three. As a result, while the Hawks generated 23.7 points per game via wide-open shots during the regular season, Atlanta is generating only 22 points per game in the playoffs.

Atlanta has seen a decrease of only about 1% in wide-open shot opportunities in the post-season. Thus, even when you account for decreased opportunities, Atlanta is still leaving about a point and a half per game on the table on wide-open attempts. When you consider how many close games the Hawks have played in the post-season, losing close to a full basket on open shots is significant. Continue Reading…

Sometimes we, as fans, need to just sit back and enjoy what we’re watching. In today’s current age of basketball, we are obsessed with teams playing “the right way”, or the smart way. The basketball needs to be in its purest form with crisp passing, perfect rotations, and not a single iota of ugliness to be found. Well sometimes basketball ain’t pretty and that’s probably a nice way to describe the Hawks-Wizards series that just wrapped up.

Atlanta managed to pull out a huge victory over Washington in six dramatic games that involved everything we ask for out of a playoff series. It had story lines, game winners, players toughing it out through injuries, and all the trash talk we could ever hope for. The only problems is that it wasn’t always the prettiest basketball in the world.

Atlanta was an extremely enjoyable team for much of the regular season, and they were champions of exactly what everybody wants their basketball to be. Washington on the other hand was one of the more painful teams to watch. Their offense was composed of mid-range jumpshots and an outdated philosophy that left many modern NBA fans throwing their hands in the air. When the two teams met, the series felt like it had already been decided. Atlanta played “the right way” while Washington had only recently shown an acknowledgement of 21st century basketball with their sweep of the Toronto Raptors. However, due to a lackluster first round from Atlanta, and John Wall being one of best point guards in the NBA, there was reason to believe this might be closer than originally thought. Continue Reading…

When Al Horford snatched Nenê’s lunch money and calmly deposited the layup that won Game 5, it brought national attention to a fact Hawks fans have been aware of for some time: Al Horford is a clutch player.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Horford is the best clutch shooter in the playoffs for the last five seasons by a wide margin (minimum 20 field goals attempted). During that time, Horford has shot 61.3% in the clutch, defined as in the last five minutes of a game with the score within five points. Horford’s closest competitor is Paul Pierce, whose 51.7% is almost 10% less than Horford.

We’ve long known that Horford was a clutch performer in the playoffs. In the 2012 playoffs, Horford returned from a pectoral injury and scored a combined nine fourth quarter baskets in Games 5 and 6 against the Celtics. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith totaled nine baskets in nine fourth quarter appearances between them for the series. Continue Reading…

Since I referred to Atlanta’s bench in the Game 3 preview as “a liability in the post-season,” here’s what they’ve done: In Game 3, five of seven reserves posted a positive plus-minus, including double digits for Shelvin Mack (plus-16), Mike Scott (plus-15) and Mike Muscala (plus-10). In Game 4, three of four reserves posted a positive plus-minus.

I like the fact that coach Mike Budenholzer took the performance of Scott and Mack from Game 3 and put it in his pocket for Game 4. In last year’s Game 5 win over the Pacers, the pair combined for 37 points, including 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range. However, in the 10 intervening playoff games between Game 5 of the Pacers series and Game 3 of the Wizards series, Scott shot a combined 18-for-53 (34%) from the field and 5-for-26 (19%) from 3-point range. Although Scott and Mack have made an annual tradition of going off for one playoff game, the pair remain the lowest performers in net rating (the difference between what the Hawks score per 100 possessions with a player on the floor and what opponents score).

By contrast, Muscala has burst onto the scene with the best defensive rating (93.9 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) and net rating (plus-11.3) of any Hawk with at least four playoff appearances. His offensive rating is fourth behind Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague in this group. It’s an extremely limited 37-minute sample, but the returns have been so positive that Muscala has surely earned more minutes. Continue Reading…

With the news that John Wall suffered multiple non-displaced fractures to his non-shooting hand and wrist in Game 1, the complexion of the Hawks-Wizards second-round playoff series has changed dramatically. However, Wall’s backup Ramon Sessions has the third-best net differential in the playoffs for the Wizards. Washington is outscoring opponents by 13.1 points per 100 possessions with Sessions on the floor, trailing only Wall (plus-15.6) and Otto Porter (plus-16.1). Thus, the Hawks’ chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in its 47-year Atlanta history continue to weigh disproportionately on the shoulders of one player: Jeff Teague.

Before I talk about times in the past when Teague has tried to be a hero for the Hawks and fallen short, let’s discuss how he became Atlanta’s key to the post-season on the heels of the greatest regular season in franchise history. In the pre-season, while NBA TV analysts Reggie Miller and Rick Fox were predicting that the Hawks would miss the playoffs, I wrote that this was the deepest team in Atlanta Hawks history.

When I wrote that piece, I wasn’t expecting Dennis Schröder to have a break-out season. The Hawks appeared headed for the playoffs with a full roster when Thabo Sefolosha returned March 25 after missing 23 games with a strained calf. Then, as they so often do, things went wrong for the Hawks. Paul Millsap suffered a bruised shoulder against the Nets April 4. Prior to an April 8 road game in Brooklyn, Sefolosha suffered a broken leg while being arrested by NYPD. Then, in the second-to-last game of the season, Hawks sharpshooter Mike Scott suffered a bruised back against the Knicks. The Hawks once again headed into the playoffs with injuries looming over their season. Continue Reading…

Please click through to Truth About It, the ESPN TrueHoop Network blog covering the Washington Wizards. TAI’s Adam Rubin and I preview tonight’s Game 2. Here’s a snippet:

During the season, the Hawks led the NBA in effective field goal percentage in catch-and-shoot situations (55.7%). The Hawks were middle-of-the pack in effective field goal percentage on pull-up shots (41.6%, 11th). Thus, any time the Hawks shot a jumper that did not result from a pass, it effectively trimmed their field goal percentage by 14 percent. Taking step-back jumpers in isolation is not Atlanta Hawks basketball.

It was 1991 when I arrived from the Defense Information School to my first Army post, Ft. Belvoir, Va. I had enlisted to be a military journalist, and upon arrival I was informed that I would replace the departed sports editor of the post newspaper, the Ft. Belvoir Eagle. I arrived the same year that Washington’s NFL football team won Super Bowl XXVI, and quickly learned that there is nothing in this world so intolerable as a Redskins fan.

As it happened, I found one that was tolerable due to our shared love of basketball. Chuck Dye was the civilian photo editor of the Eagle. I was a rabid Georgia Tech fan, having recently watched Kenny Anderson, Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver (the famed “Lethal Weapon 3″) lead the Yellow Jackets to the 1990 Final Four. Dye, as he explained to me, was an NBA fan. He didn’t follow college basketball because he preferred to watch the sport at its highest level.

It turned out that Dye’s credentials as an NBA fan were quite extensive. Chuck and his father, Emmett Dye, had been the subject of an article by legendary Washington Post sports writer Ken Denlinger about bandwagon Bullets fans at the time of Washington’s lone 1978 NBA championship. After the Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 105-99 on the road in Game 7 to claim the title, thousands of fans greeted them at the airport. Continue Reading…