We will be going live at 1PM to discuss the last series against the Pacers, the current search for a head coach, and of course, free agency!
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The Hawks could have anywhere from $30-40 million in cap space this summer. While this class doesn’t exactly have the strength of the 2014 class (ahem, the LeBron class), there are some good pickups the Hawks could make to become a contender.
Here’s the top ten potential free agents in order of priority I would have if I was general manager Danny Ferry.
1. Chris Paul
In my opinion, the best free agent of the class by far. Paul finished third this season in win shares (per Basketball-Reference) and Player Efficiency Rating (PER), behind only LeBron and Kevin Durant in both. CP3′s season is already over after the Clippers lost to Memphis in the first round, which slightly piqued my interest in how available he may be to leave Los Angeles. However, I still believe that the Clippers are going to give him too much power in pure roster decisions and too much money for the Hawks to be able to match. Atlanta will be able to offer around four years, $80 million, which is almost $30 million less than what the Clippers can give. In the end, it will likely come down to which team Paul feels has a better chance at winning a title.
2. Dwight Howard
I don’t think there is a chance that Dwight comes to Atlanta, but Ferry might as well try, right? Despite playing all season with a myriad of injuries, Dwight still managed to average 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. For the entire season, he wasn’t the defender that we all remember him being, but he did start to look like his former self towards the end of the year. The number one issue most Hawks fans would have with this would be Dwight’s enigmatic personality, but for me, it is more of an issue of cap space; the Hawks would likely have to re-sign Josh Smith to have Howard sign here, which would likely use all of the team’s cap. As strong as a Smith-Horford-Howard frontcourt would be, they would still need some money to fill out the roster with capable players in order to challenge Miami.
3. Andre Iguodala, ETO
Iggy has an opt-out with the Nuggets, which is something that most believe he will exercise; Continue Reading…
For all three seasons under head coach Larry Drew, the Hawks have failed to extend a playoff series to a decisive Game 7. In each series, Drew made at least one egregious, inexcusable decision that cost the team a chance to extend the series. However, Larry Drew’s greatest shortcoming in his nine years with the Hawks organization has been his failure to teach Josh Smith how to play basketball.
With 2:13 remaining in Game 6 and the Pacers leading 76-73, Roy Hibbert drove to the basket on Al Horford and lost the ball. While this action was taking place on the strong side, Smith was guarding David West on the weak side. As you can see at the 3:45 mark in NBA.com’s highlights for Game 6, not once during this sequence did Smith turn his head to track West’s location.
If the Hawks had collected the loose ball, the team would have been down three with a chance to tie or draw within a point. Instead, Smith allowed West to gain rebounding position where he collected the loose ball and laid it in. The same scenario happened Nov. 30th in a humiliating home loss to Cleveland. Smith was ball watching and allowed Alonzo Gee to gain inside position where he collected an errant shot and laid it in for the decisive basket. You’d think Smith would have learned his lesson and kept track of his man in a much more important game. Sadly, learning is not a strength of either Smith or Drew, as we will discuss in further detail below. Continue Reading…
The Hawks had a chance. The series was tied at two games each and it looked like Larry Drew made an adjustment in the lineup that the Pacers might not be able to counter.
That chance was clanked away.
Losing game five was a blow to the Hawks, but one the team could have managed. The whole series had been determined by homecourt to that point, and it was thought that the Hawks would continue to hold serve and force a game seven. However, the Hawks didn’t get to seven; neither in number of games, nor in second quarter shooting percentage. (6.7%)
The Pacers, to their credit, played extremely strong defense. George Hill took the task of keeping the Atlanta ball handlers out of the paint, and even with they got through, Roy Hibbert and David West proved more than capable of cleaning up the mess. Indy’s offensive game was weak and Paul George was limited to four points, but the efforts of Hill (21 points on 14 shots) and Hibbert (17 points on 14 shots) were enough to help the Pacers climb into the second round of the playoffs.
This loss isn’t new ground for the Hawks; they’ve failed to win a game in the second round for the fifth time in the last six years, despite making the playoffs each season. However, this defeat is unique in that the future is now an unknown. Only three players (Horford, Williams, and Jenkins) have guaranteed contracts next season. Josh Smith appears to be heading out the door and not coming back, and Danny Ferry will have over $33 million in cap space to work with in creating a new team.
Even with how poorly this game played out, we still have a positive thought to take from this 2012-13 season. With the odds against them all season, these Hawks never quit. After losing Zaza Pachulia and Lou Williams to season-ending injuries, the Hawks still managed to grab the sixth seed. Despite falling 2-0 in the series, they fought back to even it up and give themselves an opportunity. And even after being down 17 points in the fourth quarter facing elimination, the crowd was electric, cheering on their team, who managed to cut the Pacer lead to three.
Yes, the Hawks lost, but as Al Horford noted in his postgame presser, the team didn’t quit like they have in the past. Moral victories aren’t always the greatest, but at least we know that Larry Drew left the players of this team with an attitude that they will always have a chance to win.
With Horford likely playing the role of franchise player for the next three, hopefully that persona continues to exist in Philips Arena atmosphere for the coming seasons.
Prior to Game 2, I took issue with Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Wells’ characterization of the Hawks as fragile and easily-shaken. I argued that, “if [Larry] Drew plays his best players the most minutes, the national perception of the Hawks could change.”
It took three games for Drew to reach the same conclusion, but now the whole complexion of the series has changed. And there seems to be some confusion now within the Star’s staff about which team is the fragile, shaky one. Yesterday, in previewing tonight’s Game 4, Star columnist Bob Kravitz had this to say:
A mature, focused team wins Game 4 and closes it out Wednesday back in Indianapolis. That’s the call here, anyway.
A fragile, shaky team loses tonight and lets the Hawks right back into this series.
In my series preview, I said that “the way to beat the Pacers is to hit them in the mouth at the start of the series.” When I said hit them in the mouth, I didn’t have 3-guard lineups, Kyle Korver guarding Paul George or the return of The Horford Treatment in mind. Watching DeShawn Stevenson go -20 in 44 minutes in the first two games was also not what I had in mind.
What I had in mind was Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague playing at least 40 minutes per game and Devin Harris, Ivan Johnson and Korver playing at least 30. In Game 3, Horford and Harris played right at 40 minutes while Smith, Teague, Korver and Johnson all played close to 30. Continue Reading…
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. That’s the fate that faces the Atlanta Hawks if they lose this game.
The Indiana Pacers come to Atlanta having won the previous two games with offensive dominance. Paul George has been spectacular, scoring 20 plus in each game, while playing 83 of a possible 96 minutes. Indiana’s usually great defense, however, has not been as strong so far; Atlanta is shooting almost 50% from the field and 40% from the line, both better marks than the Pacers.
Indiana, however, has been marching through the lane and getting to the free throw line, something the Hawks have not been able to do. For Atlanta to win this game three, they will have to change that.
How? Well, the Hawks have tried multiple defenders on Paul George already. Kyle Korver didn’t exactly work. Devin Harris and DeShawn Stevenson did better, but George was still able to tear the Hawks about.
It is time for Josh Smith’s turn.
Larry Drew has elected to go big for game three, starting Johan Petro at center, moving Smith to the small forward position. Smoove may be hobbled a bit by an ankle injury, but he’s still the best overall defender Atlanta has. According to mySynergySports, Smith is giving up only 0.67 points per possession in isolation, good enough for 43rd in the league. (which is extremely good, by the way) Considering that Smith has already had turns guarding LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Monta Ellis, I don’t think Josh will balk at the challenges that Paul George will bring.
Other keys for the Hawks? Running the offense through Al Horford. Now matched up against David West, Horford should be able to work more down low than he was able to against Roy Hibbert. He should still have a good speed advantage, but Coach Drew should attempt to get his star big man established down low early.
One final key: please Larry, sub Ivan in for Petro as soon as you can. Please…
After a brutal 113-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers in game 2 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks must look to latch on to whatever has worked in this series and ride it to some much-needed victories at Phillips Arena in Games 3 and 4. Problem being, Atlanta’s biggest issue is the defense and there’s no clear-cut reason as to why it’s been struggling as much as it has been in this first round Playoffs matchup. Looking into the Hawks’ lineups played in the first two games against Indiana, I came up with some findings that can help decipher what approach should best be taken.
Before I begin, I must note two things:
1. The absence of Zaza Pachulia is absolutely hammering the Hawks, things are significantly different he was healthy and playing.
2. The statistics that are about to be used are based off of the two Playoff games the Hawks have played the Pacers in. Just two, so keep caution when jumping to conclusions as it’s a minuscule sample size.
First, the lineup most used by the Hawks has been their starting lineup obviously, totaling 29 minutes in the series. They have been ghastly on the defensive end, worse so than the five most-played lineups before them. Although their ORTG (Offensive rating: points scored per 100 possessions) is a whopping 113.1, their DRTG (Defensive rating: points allowed per 100 possessions) is a putrid 137.1. This starting lineup leads the next most-used lineup by 21 minutes over two games, nothing out of the ordinary, yet appalling considering how much they’ve had trouble defending.
The most noticeable reasoning behind these defensive woes by this lineup has to be Kyle Korver guarding Paul George, who’s now averaging 21.5 points per game Continue Reading…
The Hawks can’t get out of their own way.
Every run seems punctuated with defensive ineptitude, every quarter seems closed with a sluggish submission, every game seems lost by the fourth quarter– the Hawks just can’t stop themselves from tripping over their own feet.
Game 2 against Indiana was more of the same.
The issue is not the ability to score points, it is getting stops. In the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game, the Hawks starters returned (with the abysmal bench lineup returning to their seats), and the offense was a buzz saw. Indiana could not contain Teague in transition or stop Smith from making plays in the halfcourt. Smith’s foul trouble quickly turned the tables on Atlanta, but the Hawks were and have been successful against the NBA’s top defense, an accomplishment worth noting. But, something you’d rather go unnoticed is the fact that Atlanta’s depth and inability to field a respectable lineup for 48 minutes has harpooned their chances of stealing home court advantage.