Archives For Hawks

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Alright first off: house cleaning. I apologise for missing a few of these early season games. Please understand that I not only live in Ireland (which means games are on very late) but I also work a full time job (which I didn’t have last season) and that drains a lot out of me, and I can’t stay up until 3 am after a full day of work to watch these games when I need to be up again at 7:30. I also just moved out of my family home into my own place and I’ve been trying to adjust to that too. I start part-time hours tomorrow, so you should hear more from me going forward. I know I didn’t have to say any of this but hey, I just did. Thanks for (hopefully) understanding — GC

The Atlanta Hawks halted their two game skid with a 112-97 victory over the Houston Rockets at Philips Arena. Let’s dive right in.

Dwight Howard squares off against his old team

This was Dwight’s first game against the Rockets since he traded H-Town for Atlanta in free agency, and he had himself a good game. He prepared himself for this game somewhat differently than his Atlanta teammates are accustomed to.

“…He showed up in a nice suit tonight. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. That is the first time I’ve seen him wear a suit.” — Kyle Korver

Well, someone didn’t watch his press opener… Or maybe Korver meant that he hadn’t seen Dwight arrive to a game in a suit. Probably that.

On the court, Dwight recorded another double-double — his fifth in the first six games — scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The previous two losses didn’t sit well with Dwight, he really wanted to get that win last night.

“When you get outworked by a team for 48 minutes, it doesn’t sit well with you. Against the Lakers, those guys hit some tough shots. That was one of those games where you are like ‘Ah man, we played great defense and those guys made tough shots.’ But then last night, they just outworked us. You can watch it on film. They were going for loose balls, trying to outrebound us, all the little things. You can’t allow that to happen, especially if our goal is to win a championship.” — Dwight Howard

It wasn’t just Dwight that wanted to beat his former team, his teammates understood what this game meant to Dwight and wanted to win it for him.

“We know that Dwight wanted to win tonight. We wanted to play well for him…” — Kyle Korver

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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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Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images

Oh my goodness, it’s finally here. Even if it’s only preseason, Atlanta Hawks basketball is back!

Tipping off in Memphis on Thursday, we’ll finally be able to get a look at the Hawks in a — somewhat — competitive environment. This is definitely the most I, and I’m sure many others, have been looking forward to seeing the Hawks in action in a while given the summer they had — letting Al Horford go, trading Jeff Teague, signing Dwight Howard and giving the point guard reigns to Dennis Schröder. I am fascinated to see how the overall jigsaw is going to assemble on the court.

I’m not sure how many preseason games are actually going to be broadcasted (be it from the Hawks’ side or from their opposition’s side), but here are some things to look out for when you are watching them in action.

How Dwight Howard fits into the offense

On the face of it, I would not call Dwight Howard a Hawks-y type of player. He’s not a very diverse player on the offensive end (limited to mostly dunks and post moves, the latter seeing varying levels of success), he’s not the greatest passer of the ball (certainly not as a good of a passer than Al Horford was/is), he can’t stretch the floor like Horford did with his mid-range/three-point shot and he bogs down his team’s offensive flow when he is hacked, due to teams wanting to take advantage of his very poor free throw shooting percentages.

I was shocked when the I heard the Hawks had agreed a deal to sign Dwight and I’ve tried to talk myself into the thought of him as a Hawk and there’s certainly a decent case to make for Dwight Howard as a Hawk. We’ve talked about it to no end but now it’s finally time to see it in action.

I have so many questions:

How will Dwight actually fit into this complex offense that the Hawks run? Is he going to be as willing of a passer as Horford was? Is he going to be invested into the system where it’s about “we” not “I”? Will we see him dip into that expanded mid-range game we’ve seen him practise all summer with his shooting coach, Lethal Shooter? Can he knock down that shot in real game situations? Undoubtedly — not through “hack-a” mind you, unless teams are feeling very mean in preseason — we will see Dwight at the free throw line at some stage. Will he give any indication, any confidence, that his free throw percentage is going to increase this season, enough to the point where teams think twice about hacking him? How will his rim-rolling help the Hawks’ offense? What will it open up for his teammates? Will pick-and-rolls involving him help free up the shooters, like Kyle Korver?

We’re not going have all our Dwight Howard questions answered right now, but the picture should be a little clearer once preseason is over.

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Feature Image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

Yep, it’s that time again: summer league. Get a good long look, folks, because once summer league is over we’ll be without basketball (besides the Olympics of course) until October…

Besides, it’s also a great opportunity to take a look at some young players — mainly rookies — on show, which include some players actually under contract on NBA rosters.

The Hawks have quite a few rookies to showcase this year too. Once Taurean Prince — the 12th overall pick — is cleared to play we’ll get to see him, we got to see DeAndre’ Bembry in action, future Hawk (stashed second round pick) Isaia Cordinier is over for summer league, and we got to see slightly more familiar faces such as Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson in action too.

Quick rookie/Edy roundup

First up on the schedule in Las Vegas were the Houston Rockets. The Hawks prevailed in a 83-78 victory, and everyone is talking about the 21st overall pick, DeAndre’ Bembry, who showed Hawks fans, and neutrals alike, his ability to do a little bit of everything scoring 14 points, collecting five rebounds, and dishing out four assists. He also played some solid defense on a number of occasions, which was encouraging to see.

I was impressed with Bembry’s playmaking ability and how he got to the free throw line, where he shot 5-for-7.

Something that stood to me was during the very first possession of the game he handled the ball and the ball was often in his hands throughout the night, something you should expect to see often in summer league and, maybe, when he comes off the bench in the NBA — just on a lesser scale. A very good start for Bembry as a Hawk, I think the fans are really going to enjoy watching him play.

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Feature Image: Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

There’s one thing I love about the NBA: when the action on the court finally ends, the NBA keeps going. And it comes thick and fast too. Game 7 of The Finals took place on June 19th, the NBA Draft just took place last Thursday (June 23rd) and now we’re about to head into the free agency period, beginning July 1st.

In free agency, you’re always treading in murky waters, but more so than ever this summer. Why? The salary cap is set to rise from $70 million to a whopping $94 million, with the salary floor (the figure of expenditure that teams have to reach) reportedly believed to be $84 million. Most teams are set to have at least $20 million in cap space, so teams are going to be throwing money left, right, and center.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out, but what about for the Hawks? What’s their situation heading into free agency?

“What we have, we hold”?

The Hawks’ summer — just as it was last year — is set to be a very busy one. Franchise cornerstone Al Horford is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, while Kent Bazemore is also hitting the market off the heels of his best season in the NBA. We’ll get to the Hawks’ other free agents later, but it’s all about Horford and Bazemore.

Let’s start with Horford, Atlanta’s cornerstone, and I have some things to say to his naysayers.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Al is not the greatest rebounding center out there. And I get it, Hassan Whiteside is a better rebounder, but if you think Hassan Whiteside is a better player — more so the idea that the Hawks are better off with Whiteside than they are with Horford — then you’re out of your mind.

General question I like to ask when it comes to free agency: is there a player available on the market who is better than the player you’re considering letting go? In this case, the answer is no. As an overall package, there is NO CENTER better than Al Horford on the market this summer. None. Continue Reading…

Jeff+Teague+Cleveland+Cavaliers+v+Atlanta+Ub0xV6AZn1Ol

(Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America) 

It was normal day here in Ireland yesterday and I’m just scrolling through Twitter on a beautiful Irish evening — on a day where I should’ve been absorbing all The Finals media buzz — when suddenly I see the Hawks Twitter-sphere explode after Sham Charania of Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical tweeted this.

Quite the Tweet, wouldn’t you say? Out of the blue too. Even neutral fans were taken aback with this development.

Let’s give some brief context as to why this has arose:

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The Atlanta Hawks will begin their playoff quest on Saturday night, at Philips Arena, against the Boston Celtics. The two teams share quite a few similarities: both share a 48-33 record, both teams have players who are under appreciated throughout the league in Paul Millsap and Jae Crowder (who, in my personal opinion, should’ve been Boston’s All-Star representative), and both teams have excellent coaches in Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer who play similar styles of basketball.

The Hawks won the season series 3-1, their only loss coming on November 13th — the one game Mike Budenholzer was not with the team, due to personal reasons. Let’s have a look at the season series stats between the two teams.

hawks-c's stats

A couple of interesting things here.

The Hawks have had no problem scoring against the Celtics. An average of 110.3 points against the Celtics in four games is a concern for the Celtics in their preparation. The Hawks shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three is also a problem, the Celtics will have to make things more difficult for the Hawks if they want to stick around in these games.

I didn’t add the offensive rebounding numbers for the Celtics (10.8 per game against the Hawks, by the way), but it’ll be interesting to see how Atlanta deals with Johnson, Sullinger, and Crowder on the glass. The Hawks only average 1.5 less second chance points than the Celtics in the season series, so I didn’t see that aspect of the series being that important.

So, there are the season series stats for your viewing pleasure. But what about everything else? What are the keys to this series?

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The end of the All-Star break marks the beginning of a hugely significant time of the season — the stretch run. It’s crunch time across the NBA for many teams. You have teams gunning for the number one seed, teams gunning for home court advantage, teams gunning for the playoffs, and you have a few teams gunning for the lottery.

The Atlanta Hawks can be categorised into the second group mentioned — gunning for home court advantage. But they’ve ran into a wall. They’re currently on a three game losing streak and have lost five of their last six games. They currently occupy the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Charlotte Hornets (who have been hot of late) sitting just two games behind the Hawks having played two games less. It goes without saying that the Hawks have to string together W’s down the stretch if they want to obtain home court advantage. What are they key games/road trips/stretches that the Hawks face as the season winds down?

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The Atlanta Hawks’ 2014-15 season is a well documented season and one that is immortalised by Hawks fans. A franchise record 60 regular season wins, four players named to the All-Star team, an unbeaten January, a Coach of the Year award, and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. While being swept in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers wasn’t the note the Hawks would’ve liked to have finished their season on, it was still a hugely successful season that created the largest buzz surrounding the Atlanta Hawks (arguably) since the playing days of Hall of Famer, and Hawks legend, Dominique Wilkins.

Turn the clock forward 9 months later and there are rumours floating around that the Hawks are considering trades for Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, and even franchise cornerstone Al Horford at the trade deadline. If you were to travel back this time last year, you would never think these rumours would arise so soon after such a successful season.

So, to start off, why have these rumours surfaced?

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second consecutive game against the Orlando Magic in a heartbreaker at Philips Arena — 116-110 in overtime. The loss ties up the season series between the two at 2-2, after the Hawks won the first two fixtures.

A 20 point lead blown

The Hawks started this game off so well — it was the kind of first quarter response you would expected from a team who were beaten the night before on a buzzer beating shot. The Hawks came roaring out of the gate and took the Magic by storm — building up a 20 point lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter. It felt like this was going to be a classic revenge game, but the Magic never gave up. Jason Smith checked into the game and kept the Magic in striking distance, as he knocked down five of his seven shots in the first half for 10 points.

After the Magic had trimmed the Hawks’ lead to 13 by half time, the Hawks quickly stretched the lead back to 18 in the third quarter. But the Magic, once again, refused to to go down without a fight. Nikola Vucevic (who only scored three points in the first half on 1-of-4 shooting) exploded in the third quarter for 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, and the Hawks’ lead heading into the fourth quarter stood at 11 points.

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