Archives For Atlanta Hawks

It’s no secret that that this is a transitional period for Atlanta.

Travis Schlenk steps in as the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks, replacing the reassigned Wesley Wilcox and Mike Budenholzer stepped down from his role as president to solely coach the team.

While it’s not quite a full-fledged youth movement, the young guns will certainly be featured.

Team success will take a backseat to individual player improvement so let’s look at one aspect of every Hawk’s game that they need to take to another level to have the franchise trending up by next summer.

Dennis Schröder: Be a leader

The speedy German has trekked a long path to arrive as de facto face of the franchise. A first round pick in 2013, he was buried on the bench as a rookie, but slowly became a more integral part of the team over the years. His minutes per game has risen every season, topping out at 31.5 in 2016-17, his first season as a starter.

He is the only Hawk on both ESPN’s and the Washington Post’s lists of the top 100 NBA players. He figures to have the ball in his hands as much as he wants.

Still, it hasn’t always been a smooth ascent. Dennis has been involved in a few on-court squabbles like a recent one with John Wall. In addition, he was arrested outside a hookah bar this offseason for his involvement in a fight. He has subsequently been disciplined for those actions.

Dennis has a flair for being flashy on and off the court, but on this youth-filled roster, he needs to be a cool-headed veteran and provide steady leadership. He’ll have plenty of rope to work through slumps on the court, unlike in season’s past, but after butting heads with Dwight Howard helping to lead to his unceremonious departure, Schröder will need to help others on the team break out of funks.

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A great defense adapts to any and every sort of offensive attack. Coach Budenholzer and staff will keep their foot on the necks of this young team all season long on giving a strong effort defensively. Guys like Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore and Dewayne Dedmon are in the starting lineup for that very reason. However, even as disciplined as those pieces are, how do you counter point guards with an athletic gene we all wish we possessed like Russell Westbrook and John Wall? Now add Dennis Smith to that list.

In Thursday night’s108-94 preseason finale loss to the Dallas Mavericks they were reminded what problems it can cause.

“It really changes the dynamic of the game when you have a scoring point guard, an aggressive point guard,” said Kent Bazemore. “Because you have to be honest. They have a good team. A well coached team and they execute to a T. He picked us apart early and picked his spots on when to attack in transition. He found guys out of the pick and roll. He made some really good passes from what I saw. He is ahead of his time. He is an under amour guy so I definitely have a little love for him.”

Dynamic point guards like Smith have a knack for not only forcing you to adjust, but wearing you down mentally. The amount of attention to detail they require is a tall task. Relentlessly demanding all five defenders to account for their talents. It’s almost unfair… matter of fact, it is unfair and downright brutal.

John Wall was a force in last years playoffs when he torched the Hawks for 29 points and 10 assists a game. The Hawks did everything to load up the defense to whatever side of the court he had the ball on. They gave him different looks each game. Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore all took a shot at him — but to no avail. Dennis Schröder even began to guard him full court to disrupt Wall’s flow–didn’t change the outcome.

Dennis Smth Jr has those exact capabilities to force a team to completely shuffle their deck. He throws a wrench into the works and then some. But, better for the Hawks to get a glimpse of him now before next Wednesday’s season opener in Dallas.

“He’s an impressive athlete,” said Coach Budenholzer. “The way he can get to the paint. His overall command of the game. Haven’t seen a ton of him but the little that I saw of him tonight was impressive. They have a good young point guard and he should continue to grow and improve under coach Carlisle.”

Athletic point guards are a pain to deal with. For a Hawks team that will rely a ton on their effort and chemistry — now more than ever before — these type of guards will be a tough, if not the toughest task to face this season.

However, if defense is Atlanta’s calling, then they will need to figure it out, because the era of the athletic point guard is in and it’s not going to stop in order to help the Hawks.

Preseason to some may seem boring and meaningless. However, within it lies bits and pieces of winning basketball that originates from chemistry and cohesiveness. Atlanta is one of the younger teams in the league — these games carry plenty of value towards starting the year off playing quality basketball.

As always, defense is the priority under Coach Budenholzer, but breeding fruitful offensive habits are far from an afterthought.

“I feel like we are getting a little bit more into our offense,” said Taurean Prince. “We realize the multiple options we can get out of a lot of sets in a lot of things that we do. I feel like in the first few games we were keeping it simple and trying to get used to each other. But now we are starting to get into the spring of things and how deep we can get. I think we can be hard to guard.”

In Monday’s 100-88 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, they showed improvement offensively, and it didn’t have to appear in the box score. Yes, they finished shooting 45-percent from the field, but that’s not the sole purpose of this discussion Setting good hard picks and sound ball movement tends to facilitate positive energy that finds good shots. Doing things like trusting a teammate will shift towards his designated area at the right time for an open shot or keep the floor balanced demonstrates reliance and helps sustain fluidity.

When players don’t trust in one another is when the offense tends to stagnate. But, once guys begin to find comfort in their role is when good things begin to happen. These Hawks are headed in that direction and only time will tell if they reach their aspired destination. For the meantime, acknowledge the small victories along the way veteran Kent Bazemore knows all to well and has recognized the progress in just a few games.

“So the first game we played there was a ton of standing and too much thinking,” said Kent Bazemore. “Now I think we are starting to get players moving into the right spot. As you saw tonight with so many assists, we had. We did a good job of passing the ball and making plays for each other. Now we are starting to be a little more fluid offensively and getting shots out of it.”

The offensive system has proven to be conducive to winning over the years. The players, returning and new, must believe not only in the system but each other. Cliche? Not considering how many new faces fill this year’s locker room. Good news is according to DeAndre Bembry concerning off the court comradery– the new are mixing well with the old like a Bruno Mars record.

For a youthful team like Atlanta that will pay off immensely when the flight gets a little rocky later in the season.

“We have always had the right habits,” said DeAndre Bembry. “Especially the starters like Dewayne Dedmon coming from San Antonio and just playing the right way. Making the right pass. We all get a long with each other. We have no problems off the court. We all know what we need to do in order to be good. But us being cool off the court is where it starts and makes it way towards the court when we play together.”

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.

 

 

Pace, pace and more pace would describe the new style Mike Budenholzer wants his ballclub to showcase. A new offense with a young roster also means more mistakes—especially in the early part of preseason. In the first half of their first preseason game with the Miami Heat, the Hawks accumulated 11 ill-advised turnovers, but cleaned up in the second half with just five. Dennis Schroder and Dewayne Dedmon lead the way with 12 points apiece, followed by Marco Belinelli with 10 and the rookie John Collins posting a near double-double with nine points and 15 rebounds.

There is a good chance you may be asking yourself: “What’s new with the offense?” It’s simple—the Hawks have now installed a 5-out motion offense into their system. It is a positionless offense that relies on spacing the floor and a set of rules that determine one’s movements and actions. This offense caters to the strengths of an athletic team like Atlanta by opening up more lanes to the basket for Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and others. Ball movement is essential to the success of this style of offense, but that has always been a part of Budenholzer’s primary teaching since he arrived in Atlanta and therefore his message shouldn’t cause any confusion.

 

 

A first look at this offense on Sunday night yielded a positive result: more urgency and tempo earlier in the shot clock. Budenholzer’s troops have been instructed to scan the defense and attack without hesitation. The responsibilities for the guards have grown substantially this season—especially Schroder—with the departure of Paul Millsap and his reliability, offensively, in the post. It appears that Schroder—and every other ball handler on the team—is instructed to act early in the shot clock, either by penetrating off a pick-and-roll or off a handoff from a big man.

Schroder dominated the ball most of his time on the floor (and will most of the season) and drew the majority of Miami’s focus. Despite the fact that, in theory, the 5-out offense should keep multiple bodies off of Schroder, opening up the floor for shooters, the Hawks didn’t convert with much efficiency.

GM Travis Schlenk has routinely spoken about the merits of flexibility and positionless basketball over the offseason. By installing this offense, Budenholzer shows he’s on board with Schlenk’s vision and willing to cater to the strengths of his players.

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Next Game: October 4th at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7:00PM EST

Follow me on Twitter for Atlanta Hawks coverage: @YeboahNBA

Howdy!

Just a quick recap of the Hawks’ Game 5 (including the officiating, Dwight and Bazemore, the bench, Dennis and Paul) loss before setting the table for Game 6 in Atlanta

That, and in-arena “cuisine”.

Thanks for listening!

The Atlanta Hawks were involved in another close encounter at Verizon Center in their best-of-7 series against the Washington Wizards but came up short 99-103, meaning the Wizards take a pivotal 3-2 lead back to Atlanta ahead of Friday’s Game 6, with the Hawks looking to take the series back to D.C. one more time…

The Wizards were led by Bradley Beals’ 27 points while John Wall added 20 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dennis Schröder’s 29 points and 11 assists (first Hawk since 1973 when Pete Maravich to record such a line) while Paul Millsap added 21 points.

A fantastic performance from Schröder, who has responded in a big way after his tough first half in Game 4.

Another close game slips away, now Hawks face elimination

One thing you have to give this group credit for: they never give up.

The Hawks trailed by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter and, let’s be honest, hadn’t exactly played the most amazing game in the world. Yet, somehow, the Hawks kept at it and, following a dunk from Taurean Prince in transition, cut the lead to two points with 2:52 remaining. And when it seemed to get away from the Hawks when Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat extended the lead back to five points with just over a minute remaining. But the Hawks weren’t done. Dennis Schröder responded with a huge three-pointer that cut the lead to just two points with 1:01 remaining in the game.

Immediately, however, the Wizards come down the other end and take the lead with a John Wall jump shot behind the Gortat screen. Though I, personally, thought that an offensive foul should’ve been charged for a moving screen by Gortat, not for his first screen but the second one, the one that frees up Wall:

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The Atlanta Hawks won wire-to-wire against the Washington Wizards in Game 3 of their best-of-7 series 116-98, trimming the series deficit to 1-2. John Wall led the Wizards with 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting while Brandon Jennings added 13 points.

For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 29 points and Dennis Schröder’s 27 points.

First quarter blitz brings the Hawks back into the series

This game was essentially decided in the first quarter, a first quarter the Hawks dominated.

The Hawks scored 38 points on 65% shooting from the field and drained five three-pointers. For reference, the Hawks totalled four three-pointers in Game 2. Atlanta also held the Wizards to 20 points on 30% shooting from the floor and led by as many as 25 points in the opening period.

“They jumped on us in that first period. Their sense of urgency was very high. I wouldn’t say that we came out relaxed. We came out missing shots, but we let that affect our defense. That’s happened before with us during the season, and it’s not pretty.”

— Coach Scott Brooks

Brooks is right. The Hawks’ sense of urgency was high and it had to be. If they had lost this game it would’ve been a done deal. Commentating on Game 3 of the Cavs-Pacers series, TNT’s Kevin McHale had a great line, something along the lines of: “2-1, it’s a series, 3-0, it’s over”.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 2 of their best-of-7 series against the Washington Wizards 109-101 at Verizon Center. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 63 points to lift the Wizards to a 2-0 series lead while the Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s 27 points and Dennis Schröder’s 23 points in what was a truly ugly affair. And unlike ripping a band-aid off, this horror show took forever and a day to pass…

Per Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game, the Hawks have never recovered from an 0-2 hole in the postseason.

A blown opportunity leaves the Hawks in real trouble

The Hawks held a 94-91 lead with just over 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and, with it, a great chance to emerge from Washington with a split. And then things went horribly wrong. Immediately, John Wall converted a three-point play after being fouled by Paul Millsap — who would commit a travel on the very next play — Bradley Beal then hit a shot, Dennis Schröder air-balled spectacularly, Kent Bazemore committed an offensive foul and then turned the ball over at a crucial point of the game…these were some of the things that happened in the final five minutes, things that helped the Wizards go on a 16-4 run that put the Hawks out of reach.

Atlanta’s best chance to steal a road game in this series came and passed them by, and they were left to rue this missed opportunity due to their poor offense and turnovers down the stretch.

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