Archives For Atlanta Hawks

With the signature win of the Mike Budenholzer era under the team’s belt, the Hawks turn to Game 2. Once again, the Hawks will be under zero pressure. Pundits claimed this would be the least-competitive playoff series in NBA history. Even if the Pacers tie the series, it then shifts to Atlanta where Indiana lacks a track record of success. Below is a look at some trends to keep an eye on as the Pacers desperately try to save their season.

The Hawks were 27th in the league in total rebound percentage but trailed the Pacers only 46-42 in total rebounds in Game 1. Another issue for the Pacers is the rate at which Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap got to the free throw line in Game 1. Teague was 9-for-10 and Millsap 9-for-11. I don’t anticipate the Pacers getting any significant help from the referees in this series because Indiana represents the only significant roadblock in the East to a glamorous LeBron-Durant match-up in the Finals.

If the Kyle Korver-Lance Stephenson matchup is a key to the series as I suggested, you’d have to say the Pacers did a good job by limiting Korver to 2-for-7 shooting (29%) from three. But wait. I also said that a big problem for the Pacers was the sheer volume of 3-point shooters for the Hawks. In Game 1, Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic and Shelvin Mack each attempted at least four 3-pointers and shot 40% or better. Continue Reading…

FINAL
Hawks lead series, 1-0

IND(0-1) 93 – 101 (1-0)ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 28 pts, 5 ast, 3 reb
P. George (IND): 24 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Atlanta Hawks shocked the world Saturday night, defeating the Indiana Pacers to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference 1st round series and seize home court advantage. However, they did not shock certain bloggers who have watched the Pacers struggle for months. Indiana shows no signs of fixing its chemistry and continuity issues. The Hawks took advantage by executing the game plan everybody knew they would follow, spreading the floor with 3-point shooters and unleashing Jeff Teague on the Pacers’ weakened interior.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: Jeff Teague has accepted his role, which is that of floor leader and offensive focal point. He doesn’t have to be a vocal leader or rah-rah guy in the locker room. The Hawks need him to lead with his actions on the court. Tonight, we saw Teague embrace that role and the results were simply stunning. Typical of Teague’s confidence throughout the game was this play, where he broke Evan Turner’s ankles with a crossover and calmly hit a step-back three. Teague also showed killer instinct, never letting off the gas until the job was finished. In scoring a career playoff-high 28 points with five assists, Teague was everything we knew he could be. 10/10

Paul Millsap: In my playoff preview, I talked about the Bad Boys 30-for-30 and discussed how Mark Aguirre sacrificed his offense while Dennis Rodman was thrust into a larger role than he was prepared for. Millsap, like Teague, has been asked to take on more responsibilities in the absence of Al Horford. Like Teague, Millsap has risen to the occasion. After being held to single digits by the Pacers on three occasions this season, Millsap went off for 25 points and 8 rebounds. Millsap is the sort of teammate that you have no doubt would sacrifice as Aguirre did if his team needed it. The Hawks needed the opposite, and Millsap brought it. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Also in the 5-on-5 preview, I discussed how important the Korver-Lance Stephenson match-up was. Stephenson scored 19 with seven rebounds while Korver scored only 12 with five rebounds. But Korver was plus-12 for the game while Stephenson was minus-8. Even though Korver shot only 5-for-12, including 2-for-7 on threes, his ever-present threat helped stretch the defense and open up the middle for Teague. On defense, Korver pulled his weight. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: It’s hard to comprehend how undervalued Carroll was by the Utah Jazz before coming to the Hawks. Carroll was a game-best plus-15, scoring 12 points on four shots and adding 10 rebounds. His defensive assignment Paul George led the Pacers in every category, scoring 24 points with 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks. But Carroll made his presence felt, even flashing an escape dribble to create space for a jumper over George’s tight defense. 9/10

Pero Antic: The biggest concern for the Hawks heading into the game was, what if Pero has an off night shooting the ball? The Hawks were relying on Antic to draw Roy Hibbert away from the basket and he delivered, scoring eight points with seven rebounds on 3-for-7 shooting, including 2-for-5 from 3-point range. In the 3rd period, David West took exception to a foul and got in Antic’s face. Just like during the regular season when Carmelo Anthony jawed at Carroll, the Hawks used it as inspiration. Atlanta closed the 3rd on a 20-8 run and Indiana was never able to recover. 7/10 Continue Reading…

According to aggregate plus-minus for the four games against the Pacers this season, Atlanta’s starters have had a rough time against Indiana’s starters. By contrast, several Hawks bench players have been consistently impressive. Following is a ranking of the team by aggregate plus-minus (APM) for the four games against Indiana. For example, Dennis Schröder was +8 on February 4th and +3 on February 18th. Therefore the Hawks outscored the Pacers by 11 points for the season while Schröder was on the floor

Pero Antic, APM: +30

Antic has been a Pacer killer in two games as a starter against Indiana. Antic shot 13-for-18 (72%) from the field and 6-for-10 (60%) from 3-point range in those games, averaging 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. The Hawks have outscored the Pacers by 15 points per game during Antic’s time on the floor. Continue Reading…

FINAL

IND(53-25) 88 – 107 (34-42) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 17 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk
D. West (IND): 13 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast, 2 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks started off the game on a 14-3 run before Pacers coach Frank Vogel cleaned house and brought out all five Indy starters. It was fairly smooth sailing from there as the Hawks never let the score get within 10 points again. The scoring settled down towards the end of the second quarter and it appeared the Pacers were making a legitimate comeback once the third quarter began. But, alas, the lead was just too much for Indiana to overcome and the Hawks “paced” themselves to a solid win (I’ll show myself out). In very exciting 8th seed playoff news, the Hawks stretched out their lead over the Knickerbockers to two games.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Pero Antic: Pero quietly had a fantastic game. I must’ve snoozed through his scoring output, because he somehow put up a career-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and one assist. Antic shot 7-8 from the field, including 3-4 from beyond the three-point line. Props to the Big Macedonian (or Big Mac, if you will) for making it look easy tonight. 9/10

Jeff Teague: Jeffrey was nimble. Jeffrey was quick. Jeffrey made George Hill look like a melting candle stick. Excellent athletic performance from Teague as he put up 25 points, including some nifty hesitation moves in the lane. One thing I really enjoyed in the first half was a stretch where JT drew two fouls in the backcourt by stopping in front of snoozing Pacers players. 9/10

Paul Millsap: Another typical outing from Millsap. 17 points, 11 boards, three dimes, and two blocks. Essentially, Paul put up season averages in each statistical category (plus a few boards and minus a steal). Great effort from Trillsap, who just so happened to get karate kicked in the chest by a flying Lance Stephenson in the second half. 8.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Just picture the Energizer Bunny in a junk yard, but in pitbull form. Yep, that’s DeMarre. Nothing special from Carroll, just the usual energy and hustle (two steals!). He’s a joy to watch run up and down the floor. 7/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle Korver, the stat-sheet-stuffer SUPREME, made 11 points, six boards, and five assists look routine. Does he ever miss an off-balance mid-range shot? (Judges??? They say no!) 8/10 Continue Reading…

ESPN.com’s Ethan Sherwood Struass wrote yesterday that the NBA’s conference system needs to be abolished, since it currently awards playoff spots to teams well below .500. This season, for the first time since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams, a 50-win team could miss the playoffs.

Strauss makes reference to an incredibly important piece by TrueHoop writer Curtis Harris on how the current lottery system helps keep one conference stronger than the other (I made reference to this as well in my critique of the “wheel” draft proposal). I believe Strauss’ ideas deserve consideration because a change to the current playoff and lottery systems (perhaps something less radical than the “wheel”) is necessary to improve both the integrity of the game and its competitive balance. Continue Reading…

After consecutive losses by the Knicks following an 8-game winning streak, there’s very little chance of Atlanta falling out of the playoff picture. With 13 games remaining, the Hawks are three games ahead of the Knicks and only two games behind the 7th-seeded Bobcats. The Hawks are more likely to move up a seed or stay put than to fall out of playoff position.

As such, it’s time to start thinking about potential playoff match-ups. The Hawks could easily pass the Bobcats and move into 7th, but the Wizards are 4.5 games ahead of the Hawks in 6th. Thus, the Hawks will almost certainly face the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round. Of those teams, I believe the Pacers are the most vulnerable due to the chemistry experiment the team embarked upon by trading for Evan Turner.

Shortly after acquiring Turner at the trade deadline, the Pacers endured a season-worst, 4-game losing streak. SI.com’s Rob Mahoney criticized Turner’s stats as skewed by “pace inflation and ball dominance.” ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh further noted that, “the numbers say Turner has been a turnstile in a Pacers uniform, allowing 54% shooting on spot-up plays and 71% if we adjust for the value of the 3-pointer.” Continue Reading…

without-an-accident2

“That boy is our last hope.” -Obi Wan Kenobi

Two seasons. 127 games. 337 three-point field goals. And thousands and thousands of off-ball screens.

And now the end.

Kyle Korver’s 0-for-5 performance from behind the arc against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday marked the first time he played a game without making a three-pointer since November 2, 2012. That game was against the Houston Rockets, Korver’s first game in a Hawk uniform after being acquired from the Chicago Bulls that summer. Continue Reading…

Hawks GM Danny Ferry has addressed the glaring need in the Hawks’ power rotation with one of the most promising big men in Europe. Former 2nd-round pick Mike Muscala departs the Spanish ACB League, widely considered to be the 2nd-best professional basketball league in the world after the NBA, as its leading rebounder and 7th-ranked scorer.

HawksHoop recently pondered if Ferry’s inactivity indicated that the team had thrown in the towel on this season. The decision to buy out Muscala’s contract with Blusens Monbus Obradoiro and bring him to the Hawks a half-season early answers that question with a resounding no.

Center Dexter Pittman, recently signed on a 10-day contract, was released to open a roster spot for Muscala. With Atlanta’s front line decimated by injuries, Muscala figures to get plenty of playing time on the upcoming Western Conference road swing. We should know shortly if Muscala’s meteoric rise in the ACB league will translate to becoming a rotation NBA player.

In what has become the rule, rather than the exception, yesterday’s NBA trade deadline was yet another snooze fest. The only GM who made a significant move was Larry Bird, who traded the expiring Danny Granger, whom the Pacers were unlikely to retain, for Evan Turner, who is averaging over 17 points, six rebounds and almost four assists per game.

One team that did NOT make a significant move was the Atlanta Hawks. Danny Ferry traded the rights to Cenk Akyol, a former 2nd round pick who will never play in the NBA, for Antawn Jamison, who may never play for the Hawks. With Real GM reporting that Cartier Martin has been signed for the balance of the season and Micah Hart reporting that Jared Cunningham has been recalled from the D-League, it’s possible the Hawks have already waived Jamison.

There was a lot of confusion on Twitter and message boards last night about the purpose of the trade, since Adrian Wojnarowski with Yahoo! Sports tweeted immediately after that a buyout was possible. The purpose, from the Hawks’ perspective, was explained by Brad Turner, the L.A. Times beat writer for the Clippers: Continue Reading…

Shams Charania with Real GM tweeted that the Hawks have signed Cartier Martin for the remainder of the season:

The Hawks yesterday waived Martin ahead of the conclusion of his last 10-day contract to create an open roster spot to complete the trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for Antawn Jamison.

There is no word yet as to which player the Hawks have waived to open a roster spot for Martin. According to Micah Hart, it’s not Jared Cunningham, since he has been recalled from the NBA Development League: