Archives For Cleveland Cavaliers

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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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(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

It is done. The Atlanta Hawks announced today that swingman Kyle Korver is headed to Cleveland in a three player deal with the Cavaliers. The Hawks receive a future first round pick (2019, protected 1-10), forward Mike Dunleavy and guard Mo Williams.

Korver spent five seasons with the Hawks and averaged 10.7 points per game on 46% shooting from the field and 44.6% from three-point range. In his time with the Hawks, Korver set a then NBA record for most consecutive games with at least one three-pointer made with 127. Korver also made one All-Star appearance in his time with the Hawks in 2014.

Very quickly on the return for Korver: once fans get over the initial shock they will see that this is actually a decent deal for the Hawks. Korver was getting up there in age, was heading for free agency this summer (although I do believe he would’ve re-signed with the Hawks) and may have been heading for a payday that the Hawks might not have necessarily wanted to commit to (since Korver is 36 in March, even a two year deal would take him to 38).

In terms of what is heading to Atlanta with regards players, Mo Williams will not feature in the Hawks’ plans, Coach Bud made that clear today:

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David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks handed the last unbeaten team in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers, their first loss of the season — in the Q no less — triumphing 110-106 over the defending champs. The Hawks were led by a career night from Dennis Schröder (which we’ll get to) while Paul Millsap poured in 21 points and Kent Bazemore added 23, picking up from where he left off against Houston.

Streaks snapped

Not only did the Hawks halt the Cavs’ six game win streak but they ended their own 11 game losing streak that the Cavs have held over them since 2015.

The Cavaliers were just that one team (besides the Spurs) that the Hawks just couldn’t beat. Prior to this season, the Cavs were just built to beat the Hawks. No one could stop LeBron at the rim and Tristan Thompson did whatever he wanted on the offensive glass as the Cavs would destroy the Hawks in the rebounding battle. But if last night was any indication of things to come, that might be a thing of the past…

“It’s definitely a different year.” — Kent Bazemore

Dwight Howard, though only joining the Hawks this summer, was aware of the Hawks’ 11 game losing skid to the Cavs and he wanted to right that wrong.

“I aware of it (the losing streak to the Cavs). I’m from Atlanta. I’ve watched in the playoffs. That’s all in the past. We want to change that. We don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to think about it. It happened but we want to make sure it never happens again.” — Dwight Howard

Dwight played a key role in snapping this streak and we’ll get to that very soon.

I thought this was such an important win for the Hawks. This Cavs team has held a vice at Atlanta’s neck for the past two seasons and for the Hawks to exorcise some of those demons with this win (even though this wasn’t a playoff win) was so important heading into future games between these two sides, just to give them the confidence of “You know what, we can beat this team”.

As Kent Bazemore said, this year sure is a different year, and there was one aspect of this game where things were definitely different…

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Hawks picked up their second victory of the preseason with a 99-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wait… The Hawks actually beat the Cavaliers?? The 11 game losing streak that has run since the 2015 Conference Finals is over?? What’s that? It doesn’t actually count because no relevant Cavalier played and it’s only a preseason game? Oh…

Anyways, they picked up the win and it was so good to finally be able to watch the Hawks in action after their first two games of the preseason (against the Grizzlies and the Spurs) were not televised.

Let’s just get stuck in, shall we?

Dwight Howard shines in Philips debut

Dwight Howard’s first competitive game at Philips Arena was a decent one, you could say. He scored 26 points (on 11-of-15 shooting), collected eight rebounds, and blocked two shots in just under 24 minutes of action.

He was so dominant in the first quarter and there’s so much to digest, I don’t know where to start. But before we get stuck into the footage, do — please — keep in mind that this is preseason and the opposition Dwight was playing against was not of the highest quality. Important to note, as some tend to get carried away after one game.

Defensively, we always knew what Dwight we were going to see — so long as he was locked in. But we all knew if he was locked in that Dwight was always going to be a force to be reckoned with at the rim. As Jordan McRae found out the hard way…

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The Cleveland Cavaliers completed their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks as they took Game 4 in Atlanta with a 100-99 victory in Atlanta. The loss marks the end of a fun season in Atlanta, but the crushing exit at the hands of the Cavaliers — in a second successive sweep — has many Hawks fans torn on where the franchise needs to go next. And we’ll get there in good time, here at HawksHoop but, before all of that, let’s just finish the postmortem of this Game 4 loss.

Block or goal tend?

With 1:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Hawks led 97-96, with the Cavaliers inbounding the ball underneath Atlanta’s basket. Some nice man movement from the Cavs out of the timeout allows LeBron — who frees himself of Paul Millsap — to receive the ball and put it up on the glass for a layup. However, James finds his effort swatted from behind by Millsap, who thinks he has the clean block and rebound, but the whistle sounds and the call is goal tending and the basket counts. As the play is reviewable — as there are less than two minutes remaining in the game — the officials take a look it.

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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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Every October, 30 NBA franchises (well, 29, discounting the Sixers who have no interest in the playoffs right now) begin a journey, a journey whose destination lies in the form of post season basketball, the playoffs – the pinnacle of professional basketball. The place where champions are crowned and legends are made. Only 16 teams will arrive at this destination come mid April. And out of those 16 teams, only eight of them – four East, and four West – will begin their playoffs journeys at home. The opportunity to play the first two games of a seven game series (at least in the first round of the playoffs) at home. The home fans cheering, feeding, and fueling their team with their energy and excitement, hoping they can use it to gain an advantage. This, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is known as home court advantage – something many teams strive for throughout the regular season in order to give themselves the best chance of success in the playoffs.

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the four teams in the Eastern Conference to secure home court advantage, thanks to the Boston Celtics’ loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. Who they will face in the first round is unclear, that is to be determined on the final night of the regular season, tonight. They could face anyone of the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, or Boston Celtics.

But the objective of the Hawks’ season is not just to make the playoffs, nor to win just one playoff series and crash out in round two, happy with one playoff series win. I mean, that’s fine if you’re one of the lower seeds like the Detroit Pistons, but this Atlanta Hawks team is beyond that point in their journey. They are a team stacked with many veterans who have tasted the playoffs on many, many occasions (this current Hawks roster combine for 568 playoff games), and one playoff series win/getting KO’d in round two this season simply wouldn’t be good enough – especially for a team who made the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

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The Atlanta Hawks lost a heartbreaker last night at Philips Arena, as they were defeated 110-108 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. LeBron James led the Cavaliers with a LeBron-like/playoff-like stat line of 29 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, and one block. Kyrie Irving also added 20 points the Cavs’ cause.

The Hawks were led by Paul Millsap’s double-double — 29 points, 12 rebounds — and Jeff Teague’s 28 points and nine assists.

A valiant effort

A valiant, heartbreaking, terrible, then amazing, spirited, sometimes passionless, sometimes passionate game. So many contrasting emotions.

The Hawks were looking good with a lead of 19-14 in the first quarter until the Cavaliers ripped off a 13-0 run near the end of the first quarter to give themselves a nine point lead heading into the second quarter. OK, a nine point deficit — not too bad. It’s not ideal but it’s fine.

What wasn’t fine was the Hawks’ effort in the second quarter. They looked as though they were afraid to drive toward the rim and, as such, settled for a lot of jump shots. Here is the Hawks’ second quarter shot chart. Warning, there’s a lot of red.

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Kyrie Irving was ruled out just before the start of Game 2 due to knee tendonitis. Not long afterwards, DeMarre Carroll was ruled a go to start Game 2 against the Cavs.

It didn’t matter.

Without Irving, LeBron James steamrolled through the Hawks’ defense, making the Hawks look helpless as the four-time MVP carved through Atlanta with his passing and scoring to lead Cleveland to a 94-82 victory. Without Irving and Kevin Love — who is absent from the series with a shoulder injury — James put the team on his healthy shoulders and delivered with 30 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.

“I’ve got a good vocabulary, but I’m sort of running out of superlatives for that guy,” said Coach David Blatt on LeBron. “He’s just a great basketball player.”

James was particularly masterful at adjusting throughout the game, as his scoring early was soon replaced with precision passing as the Hawks’ defense collapsed around him. Eight of James’ first nine assists were on 3-pointers, as James expertly delivered the ball to the likes of Iman Shumpert, James Jones, and Matthew Dellavedova around the perimeter.

“I’m able to make adjustments through the game, just knowing how the defense read and react,” said James on the fluctuations in the way he attacked throughout the game. “Obviously, when you’ve got guys like [Shumpert], who shot the ball extremely well tonight, the defense start to go further and further way from the paint and I’m about to see creases. When they react to me, I’m going to find my guys.”

For the Hawks, the offense became an atrocity in the second half. Jeff Teague led the Hawks in Game 1 with 27 points, but he laid an egg in Game 2 when matched up against Dellavedova. Coach Blatt and the Cavs schemed well, as they went under screens to force the Atlanta guards into shooting jump shots that they are not comfortable with. Teague was 1-for-7 from the field in the second half and did not show the same effort in trying to get to the rim that he did in the first half of the game, nor in Game 1.

“At the end of the day, we went out there, and we didn’t have a lot of energy,” said Carroll. “I think that was the biggest thing.”

Despite his injury, Carroll led the team in minutes in Friday night with 34. Carroll was clearly hampered, however, as he had little to no lift when he attempted to jump. The most athleticism Carroll showed all night was on a run out in transition, where Teague was pushing the ball and Carroll was sprinting at his side, waiting for the drop off pass for an easy bucket. Continue Reading…

Shelvin Mack had sat out the past two games because of the Hawks’ superb depth at point guard with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder. With Teague on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain, Mack had an opportunity to make an impact on Wednesday night against LeBron and the Cavaliers.

And boy did he do just that.

Mack scored a career-high 24 points off the bench, including 17 points and a 5-for-5 performance from 3 in the second quarter that swung the game in the Hawks’ favor. After trailing by 12 in the second, the Hawks rallied to take a 65-60 lead into halftime. Mack’s play translated to the rest of the Hawks in the second half, as Atlanta outscored Cleveland 62-38 in the final 24 minutes to give the Hawks a 127-98 victory.

The Hawks took control in the third quarter by continuously running plays targeting Kevin Love on defense. Paul Millsap and Al Horford accounted for seven straight Atlanta field goals in a span where the Hawks expanded their lead to double-digits. Horford finished with 20 points and four assists, while Millsap tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Continue Reading…