Archives For George Hill

Atlanta has suffered through several blowouts so far this season that should give pause to whether or not this team is capable of making a deep playoff run.

In every single one of those blowouts, they looked unequipped and unenthusiastic facing opponents with several shooters and playmakers. Washington, Detroit, and Utah all showed just that this year’s defense, allowing the most points per game under Coach Budenholzer’s tenure, does not seem to be imposing their will on teams as in seasons past.

The reason that may be? Those aggressive teams mentioned above have figured out the weaknesses of the Hawks’ defense, and they are well-equipped to attack it.

“We know that they are a team that likes to have their bigs play back in pick and roll coverage,” said Washington’s Bradley Beal. “So we took full advantage of it and were able to come off screens for jumpers or get in the lane and create for someone else.”

Beal’s teammate — star point guard John Wall — added on to that assessment.

“They are a type of team that closes out the paint first, then closes out on shooters, so with me and Bradley being aggressive in pick and rolls, guys just have to be ready to shoot.” said Wall. “More teams are just going to give me the shot in pick and rolls by allowing me and Gortat to play two-on-tow or take us away and let the weak side score.”

In Washington and Atlanta’s Jan. 27 meeting that the Wizards won 112-86, the box score said the Wizards posted a 42% 3-point field goal percentage, but witnessing it felt more like 52%, as many of them were taken without much contest from defenders. More alarming than some of those other blowouts was that the Hawks were fully aware stepping onto this court that they were facing a Top 10 3-point shooting squad in Washington and apparently made no adjustments from their usual scheme.

The pick and roll scheme, along with electing to pack the paint, seems works well when you face teams like the Bulls or Nets that lack floor spacers. Honestly, it was very apparent last season when Cleveland swept Atlanta for a second straight time that eventually talents trumps scheme; we see that every year during march Madness when a Cinderella run ends once they face an overwhelming gifted roster.

Some believed heading into the season that Dwight Howard could take this Hawks defense to a level that Al Horford could not. Although Howard thrives in rim protection, teams have steadily tried to force him into defending the pick and rolls more frequently, an area he may not be completely comfortable in. Combined with that, the farther Howard is away from the rim, the less of a rebounding presence he becomes. This then results in more offensive opportunities for opponents, as evidence by the Hawks’ currently ranking 26th in opponent second chance points and 23rd in opponent offensive rebounds. While many put a lot of stock in Howard’s pure rebounding numbers, replacing Horford — who excelled in reading coverages and moving his feet well enough to disrupt ballhandlers — is not a skill you can find just anywhere in this league.

The focus in this series of clips is to watch how Howard and Mike Muscala have been instructed to sag back into the paint.

Now when Budenholzer chooses to blitz the ballhandler off the pick and roll by forcing him to one side of the floor, there are only two reactions from opponents: panic or patience. Teams like Washington and Cleveland play with a certain level of patience because they have multiple sources of offense. Those secondary options can make the right pass or drift to the right spot on the backside of the defense for higher percentage looks from downtown. Utah is another team this season who has proven that with length, shooting and playmaking, this Top 5 ranked defense can look discombobulated.

While the Hawks often excel at trapping, this series shows just how vulnerable the weakside is whenever the Hawks trap one side. Not every team can take advantage of that, but Utah’s Gordon Hayward explains why some of the top teams in the league are able to do so.

“They do a good job of coming over, shifting early and shutting down rolls,” said Hayward. “We are unique because we have a lot of playmakers and taller guys so we can see over the defense, which helps make that extra skip pass.”

Hayward’s teammate and point guard George Hill echoed similar sentiments.

“You have to be fundamentally sound when you play these guys,” said George Hill. “Coach Bud is a great coach and they have a lot of great players that are active. So you have to strategically pick them apart as far as attacking the bigs getting them in two-on-one options, where we can get the ball out of the trap and try to play two-on-one on the backside.”

For the last couple seasons, it always felt as though no matter how poorly the Hawks struggled to score the ball that the defense would always be there to keep the game close. They could buckle down in any moment and jumpstart some type of offense, but not so much this season. Yes, the defense enabled them to comeback from 20-point deficits in Milwaukee and Houston, but in order to think like a champion, you must think pessimistically. In the Hawks’ case, it’s not just about blown leads and lost games, but wins too; even in victories in which they had a substantial lead, they closed out the game rather poorly from a defensive standpoint.

Playoff time is just around the corner and no considerable changes to the roster seem forthcoming. The scheme can be and has been very effective obviously, but its weaknesses could very well be the reason they won’t make it very far in this year’s postseason.

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ road trip hit a nasty bump as they were absolutely crushed 68-95 by the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Gordon Hayward scored a game high 24 points while George Hill added another 23 to the Utah cause as the Hawks’ starters combined for just 37 points.

Utah’s outstanding defense

Look, the Hawks’ offense wasn’t great, but a huge reason as to why that was the case was the amazing defensive display that the Utah Jazz produced. You know, sometimes you lose a game not purely because you didn’t play well but because the other team was simply better — this was the case last night. Gobert, Hood, Hill and company played an absolute blinder on the defensive end, holding the Hawks to season lows in scoring (68 points), 11 assists and field goal percentage (32%).

As Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game pointed out on Twitter, these numbers were not only season lows, but all time lows under Coach Mike Budenholzer (2013-present).

Continue Reading…

FINAL
Series tied, 2-2

IND(2-2) 91 – 88 (2-2) ATL

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 29 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk
P. George (IND): 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]

A win today would have been gigantic for the Hawks. Going up 3-1, winning both games at home, and sending Indiana back home in an even bigger mental mess than they’re already in would have given Atlanta a lot of momentum going into Game 5. However, that wasn’t the case.

The Pacers they played a lot more like themselves. The body language issues that appeared to be plaguing them the entire series were for the most part non existent. The defense returned to form, minus a poor performance in the 2nd quarter, and of course, since they were playing an Atlanta sports team, something that made no sense had to happen. That something was a David West clutch three pointer. Then just as the Hawks thought they had hope with a chance to tie the game at the end, they couldn’t convert. The Pacers missed free throws to ice the game, giving the Hawks one last shot. The Pacers played excellent defense, blew up any semblance of a play, and left the Hawks with a Pero Antic contested 3 that didn’t go in.

Despite the Hawks loss, this series is far from over. The Hawks showed in Game 1 they can win in Indiana. Game 5 is a huge game however. With today’s win, the Pacers have won 3 games in Atlanta since 2006. Winning game 5 would give the Hawks an advantage and put history on their side. Should they lose however, they have to win two straight games. Something they haven’t shown the ability to do.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Jeff Teague: While Teague never had any consistency scoring, shooting 5-for-15 for 14 points, he more than made up for it in the rest of his game. 7 assists, 6 rebounds and a solid defensive effort. However, he did have 4 turnovers. Not his best game in the world but very far from bad as there were moments he looked completely unstoppable. 7/10

Paul Millsap: Millsap was a monster. 10-for-18 from the field for 29 points, 7 rebounds, and he even swatted himself 3 blocks. Millsap again stretched the floor for the Hawks in a big way hitting three of his six three point attempts. When Millsap wasn’t stretching the floor he was dominating everywhere else. Post ups, face ups, spot ups, pull ups, isolations it didn’t matter. Millsap was scoring. On defense he made Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinimi, and David West’s lives a living hell constantly harassing them. Millsap was the main reason the Hawks had a chance to win at the end. 10/10

Kyle Korver: Good news and bad news. Good news, Korver was able to let it loose from long range and find shots that he wanted to take. Bad news, while Korver let it fly from deep with eight attempts, he only managed to make three of them. He did however play some decent defense and pull down 9 rebounds. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll on offense was not pretty. Was almost a non factor. On defense he shined. It would be easy to look at Paul George’s stat line and blame Carroll for that but he contested a lot of shots. Also got to give Carroll some iron man props. He played 40 minutes, more than any other player besides Paul George. Still, it’s very difficult to look past how ineffective Carroll was on offense. 6/10

Pero Antic: I’m not sure if the Pacers are starting to figure Antic out but he had a dreadful game. Defense was alright but other than he contributed nothing. 1/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL
Pacers lead series, 2-0

IND(2-0) 113 – 98 (0-2)ATL

Key Performers:
P. George (IND): 27 pts, 8 reb, 4 stl
D. Harris (ATL): 17 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Summary of tonight’s game: Pacers got ahead, Hawks tried to make a comeback, and were often within striking distance. Then, something always happened to keep the Hawks out of it, whether it be a “foul” (looking at you, Malloy), or a defensive breakdown in transition. In the end, the Hawks couldn’t overcome Indy’s three-point shooting and timely baskets.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Larry Drew let Al play 38 minutes tonight, but it wasn’t exactly that much of a plus for the Hawks. Al missed a bunch of easy shots in the lane and really seemed to be forcing some of his shots. Of course, he never really seemed the same after he unfairly got a technical in the 2nd quarter. Horford’s ejection-worthy reaction was just a testament to how weak the tech call really was. 6/10

Josh Smith: Josh picked up two fouls in the first two minutes, and picked up his third soon after he got back into the game in the second quarter. When he was on the floor, though, he was playing well, as he made his jumpers, had some strong moves to the basket, and was playing aggressive defense. He seemed really inspired in the second half with his play, but he cannot be in that kind of foul trouble in order to be an asset to the team. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle, Kyle, Kyle… you had so many opportunities to keep the Hawks in the game. He fared better on defense not having to guard Paul George, but he was set up too perfectly on several threes that could have been momentum builders to miss. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Zero points after halftime is not going to cut it, regardless of how good your first half was. Teague looked completely out of it in the second half, and was hardly getting into the lane like he was in the first. Part of this should be credited to an improved defensive effort by the Pacers, but a lot of it had to do with Jeff turning into the passive character that we have seen him become too often this season. 6/10

Devin Harris: Devin took some head-scratching shots, but he was the only ATL starter that appeared engaged for the entire game. He tried guarding Paul George, and was effective at times, but George’s physical skill set proved too much. Harris was also one of three Hawks to receive a technical foul on the night. 7.5/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 89, Pacers 86

Bo Churney —  November 7, 2012

FINAL

IND(2-3) 86 – 89 (2-1) ATL

Key Performers:

J. Teague (ATL): 15 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts, 3stls
G. Hill (OKC): 20 pts, 3 rebs, 5 asts, 4 stls
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The Hawks were down by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, but a few adjustments from coach Larry Drew, as well as timely shots from Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague, gave Atlanta their 2nd win on the year. The Pacers, who are missing Danny Granger, only scored nine points in the final period, despite scoring 25 or more in the first three quarters.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Horford couldn’t do much on the defensive end against David West, but he was his normal, efficient self on offense. He did most of his damage on Roy Hibbert, including an absolutely ferocious dunk in the 2nd quarter. 8/10

Josh Smith: His scoring performance tapered off after he scoring on three consecutive post plays to start the game, but his passing game was excellent with seven assists. He only took four jumpers, which is… progress? 7/10

Zaza Pachulia: Going up against Roy Hibbert, Zaza got the well-deserved start and did not disappoint. He had 14 rebounds, incluing six on the offensive end, and completely took the Pacers’ big-man out of the game. His only drawback was his three turnovers. 9/10

Lou Williams: We didn’t get “4th-Q Lou” this time around. He played pretty terrible, even though he did have a couple of key dunks. 4/10

Jeff Teague: He finished with 15-6-6 and three steals in 32 minutes. He wasn’t really successful early in the game, but he stayed aggressive, and his back-to-back buckets in the final minute were the daggers for the Hawks. 8/10 Continue Reading…