Archives For Kyrie Irving

The Atlanta Hawks’ season now hangs by a very fine thread, as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied in the fourth quarter to take Game 3 (121-108) and, with it, take the commanding 3-0 series lead.

After the Hawks lost Game 2, I shared the stat that LeBron has never — in 16 playoff series — lost a playoff series after going up 2-0. History wasn’t kind to the Hawks then, and it’s not looking good for them now. No team in NBA history has ever recovered from a 3-0 hole and comeback to win the series 4-3. The Cavs will have the opportunity to complete their second consecutive sweep over the Hawks on Sunday afternoon. For the Hawks, Game 4 is do-or-die, even though the ultimately fatal blow was dealt last night.

Fourth quarter of doom

The Hawks entered the fourth quarter with a five point lead and a Kyle Korver three-pointer put the Hawks up 94-85 with 11:14 left. After the two teams traded punches for a couple minutes, the Hawks still led 101-93 with 9:14 remaining. Obviously, this was plenty enough time for the Cavs to mount a run, and mount a run they did. From that point, the Cavs finished the game on a 28-7 run, shot 56% from the field (9-of-16), shot 55.6% (5-of-9) from behind the arc, and made 5-of-6 from the free throw line. The Hawks, meanwhile, shot 21.4% (3-of-14) from the field, missed all four of their three-point attempts, and only shot two free throws making one (again, from the 9:14 mark).

Huge fourth quarter efforts from LeBron James (10 points, three assists), Kyrie Irving (12 points, two three-pointers), and Channing Frye (11 points, three three-pointers) led the Cavs to a 36 point fourth quarter, outscoring the Hawks by 19 points in the final period. Frye’s 11 point fourth quarter points were part of a 27 point display, while shooting 7-of-9 from behind the arc.

It was such a disappointing result for the Hawks, not only because the loss means that the Hawks are now 0-3 down, but because Hawks played a good playoff game. Think about how mad this is:

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Home is a place of refuge, a place to reset, regroup and re-energize; but for the Hawks, all they received was a 121-108 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the first two and a half quarters, they returned back to the style of basketball that brings the most success to them as they forced turnovers, played physical and mailed in good looks from 3-point land. This game, Coach Budenholzer decided to shake things up a bit by adding more defense and hustle to the lineup, replacing Kyle Korver with Thabo Sefolosha and giving Kris Humphries more meaningful minutes.

“You have to change. We’re in the playoffs,” said Al Horford, who scored 24 points. “We’re fighting for our playoff lives right now. At this point, we have to do some changes because what we’ve done hasn’t worked. We felt good about tonight, but we had some mistakes that cost us.”

Those mistakes Horford referred to came mostly in the the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, as Cleveland made adjustments that then forced the Hawks into questionable shot selections, wasteful possessions and worst of them all, turnovers. The fourth quarter defense looked much like every quarter in Game 2, as Cleveland’s ball movement found the right shooter at the right time.

Atlanta plays best when their defense initiates their offense, but that was no more, and they were forced into a shootout they had no bullets for. Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks face an uphill battle in their second round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Cavs blew out the Hawks 123-98 in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead. That scoreline is kind to the Hawks, in all honesty. They were blown apart by the Cavs and their outside shooting, and deserved to lose by at least 30.

Before we get to that, we should recognise the situation the Hawks are now in: they’re in trouble, and history does not favor their side…

I can’t find the stat that I saw on Twitter last night, but it was something like “the Hawks have never recovered from a 0-2 series hole in franchise”, but I may be mistaken… Either way, things could be a lot better.

Anyways, let’s get to Game 2. Funnily enough, there’s not much to really discuss but what there is to discuss, we’ll be spending a while on…

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Clinching the 3-seed is unquestionably a present goal for the Atlanta Hawks, but performances like tonight against a high caliber opponent like the Boston Celtics is more paramount heading into postseason.

“The most important thing for us is to keep winning and playing well,” said Al Horford. “That’s the most important thing.”

Atlanta’s defense was at the top of Budenholzer’s list for most important adjustment to make at the half. The Hawks’ defensive coverages, mainly its ability to guard the 3-point line, were a tad bit late and against a team that moves the ball as well as Boston, that leads to them shooting 59% from downtown and scoring 71 points in just 24 minutes.

“We were just making mental mistakes, so many mental mistakes on the defensive end of the floor,” said Kyle Korver. “Against a good team, you cant make those mistakes. You cant just try and run the coverage, you have to be great.”

In the second half, they looked great, lead by Paul Millsap’s energy — 17 of his 31 points came in the 2nd half — and a collective defensive conscious to make life just a little harder on Boston. One thing about these Hawks is that they always seem to find a way to make adjustments without sacrificing their identity in the process. They came out with mindset to force more ball pressure on pick and rolls at the top, but to never over-extend too much, leading to mismatch after mismatch. This is what repeatedly occurred in the first half.

That began with the head of the snake, All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who shot just 2-for-12 from the field in the second half along with three turnovers. They then made a valiant effort on reacting much sooner within their coverages on the 3-point line in order to limit or contest the Celtics attempts from the three point line. (just 1-for-11 in the second half)

Coach Budenholzer later spoke about the success of these adjustments.

“Sometimes there are subtle changes, every teams does different things -o pick and rolls — you try to have a few things that you can use. To be honest with you, we looked at some clips at halftime. There was basic breakdowns, and there was some shot-making. I think we thought we could reduce our mistakes and not give some open looks and opportunities.” Continue Reading…

The Hawks’ season likely came to an end with about a minute remaining in the second quarter.

Yes, the game remained close throughout and even needed overtime to be decided. Yes, there is still at least one more game that needs to be played in this series. And yes, these Hawks have shown that — more often than not — they will fight when presented with adversity.

But when Al Horford was ejected for what the officials deemed as an elbow to the head of Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova, Game 3 was essentially over for Atlanta. The Hawks had their chances late, but nearly every mistake that the Hawks made can be linked to the absence of Horford. Jeff Teague was the only Hawk willing to shoot, Mike Scott was on the floor too much, and the Hawks being short the best body they had to box out Tristan Thompson all led to their 114-111 downfall against the Cavaliers.

“I did think he went at me but I should have handled it better,” Horford said on the season-changing play. “Shouldn’t have gotten caught up in that and it’s something I’ll definitely learn from.” Continue Reading…

Game 1 of the Hawks and Cavaliers series looked like a disaster for Atlanta when DeMarre Carroll went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

The arena was deadly silent. Carroll was rolling in pain on the court as players and coaches from both teams looked on with grave concern. As Carroll was helped off the court, everyone in Atlanta had one thought: it’s over. Without DeMarre Carroll, the team’s best perimeter defender and the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs, the Hawks had no chance against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But alas, a beam of hope has struck the ATL.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the MRI on Carroll’s knee showed no structural damage beyond confirming a knee sprain. Carroll’s status was updated on Wednesday by the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore:

With Kyrie Irving also being questionable for Game 2, the Hawks have ample opportunity to recover from the near disaster that was Game 1. With or without Carroll, here are the keys that the Hawks need to follow to improve in Game 2.

Go under on LeBron James initiated pick-and-rolls

LeBron James had success against the Hawks in Game 1 by getting into the paint, whether it be via post up or drive into the lane with the help of a screen. James often collapsed the Hawks’ defense and would kick out to an open Continue Reading…

The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars 163-158 on Sunday night in Madison Square Garden behind game-MVP Russell Westbrook’s 41-point performance. LeBron James led the East squad with 30 points.

Of course, this is a Hawks blog, so the focus here is going to be how Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver performed over anything else. Despite the loss, it’s safe to say that those four represented Atlanta well and gave the city something to be proud of.

Horford was the first Hawk to enter the game, as he did so with Kyrie Irving about seven minutes into the first quarter. This felt like a surprise, because the general thought was before the game that Budenholzer might insert all four Hawks at once. However, it did not take long for the rest of the Hawks to see the floor, as Teague, Millsap, and Korver joined Horford and Irving on the floor about a minute of game time later. Those four played the remainder of the quarter and we did not see four Hawks on the floor again until the third quarter when they took the floor with LeBron James.

Korver had the most notable performance of any Hawks player, as quick-paced nature of the All-Star game suits his style perfectly. Korver scored 21 points in 16 minutes and was 7-for-12 from 3-point land for the game. Continue Reading…

In front of a sellout crowd of 20,562, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 127-94.

Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks came into the game with a better record than the Cavs, but it didn’t take long to see who the better team really was. The Cavs went on a 21-1 run in through the middle of the second quarter, which turned a 16-point lead into an insurmountable 35-point deficit.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks in scoring with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with seven boards, four helpers, a steal and a block. Sadly for Atlanta, only he and Al Horford seemed like they were ready for the game. Horford scored 12 points on 6-10 shooting in 19 minutes. In a surprising twist, Kyle Korver — who is one of the best shooters in the NBA — only had one shot attempt and added one assist. It’s strange to see a Korver stat line full of zeros.

Hawks were out of the game so early that coach Budenholzer decided to sit Korver for the entire second half. “Korver is fine, the game was out of reach so we wanted to try some other guys out there,” said Budenholzer after the game.

Cavs hit their first 11 3-pointers, including a fadeaway 3 at the end of the first quarter by rookie Joe Harris. “There isn’t much you can do when a guy is hitting shots like that at end of the quarter,” said Jeff Teague, who scored five points and tallied three assists. “We got discouraged out there when they started hitting those shots, we started putting our heads down and it just got worse.” Continue Reading…

FINAL

CLE(31-46) 98 – 117 (33-42) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 20 pts, 2 reb, 12 ast
D. Waiters (CLE): 23 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast
[FULL BOX SCORE]

This one was over halfway through the 1st quarter. The Hawks went up big, they went up early, and they dominated all night long. The Cavs never even got close to a comeback in a horrible showing. The Hawks did a great job of running their offense perfectly and playing some even better defense. Everybody on the Hawks shot well and it was a big win for the Hawks playoff hopes with New York losing.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Pero Antic: Antic didn’t do too much tonight. He only shot 5 shots, made 2 of them, and was just kind of out there. He didn’t hurt the team with his play though so no complaints.  6/10

Jeff Teague: Teague was the driving force behind this blowout. He ran the offense perfectly, showed the perfect aggression and created tons of open looks. 20 points and 12 assists for Teague, Kyrie Irving stood no chance. 10/10

Paul Millsap: Not to be outdone, Millsap had one hell of a game himself. Dominating the Cavaliers front line of Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson. 16 points, 11 rebounds, and he even tacked on a nice passing display with 6 assists. 10/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll was fantastic on defense and he even shot the ball well to go with it. 10/10

Kyle Korver: I’m starting to wonder if Korver is still a little hurt, he just hasn’t looked consistent ever since returning from injury. Not a good night for him with only 8 points and three makes, two from long range. 7/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 127, Cavs 125

Cole Patty —  December 26, 2013

FINAL

CLE(10-18) 125 – 127 (16-13) ATL

Key Performers:
J. Teague (ATL): 34 pts, 3 reb, 14 ast, 3 stl
K. Irving (CLE): 40 pts, 2 reb, 9 ast, 4 stl
[FULL BOX SCORE]

The main complaint with the Hawks this season was their inconsistent tendencies. When the team won games, like their last meeting with the Cavaliers, they looked like a team that could and should be the third team in the East. When they lost, Atlanta looked more apart of the group with the other borderline playoff squads. Their Jekyll and Hyde tendencies were frustrating, and left viewers puzzled as to what this team could actually achieved.

Tonight was different however. The shots weren’t falling, and they lost Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll to — hopefully non-serious — injury. Playing funky lineups and making scrappy plays wasn’t in the game plan, and this season Atlanta has lost most of the games that have gone this way. Yet, they kept finding a way tonight. Whether it was forcing the kinds of turnovers that didn’t show up as steals, throwing the ball off Cavaliers players to gain possession, or making a simple defensive rebound difficult, this team made the kinds of plays that will go unnoticed. This might not be the teams best win, but if things go in a positive direction for the next 53 games it could very well be their most telling win. The shots didn’t fall their way for a long stretch — the Hawks didn’t lead from 8:03 left in the fourth until 1:06, and only lead for a total of 10 seconds in overtime — but they found a way to get that win.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Al Horford: Up until the injury, Al was the best player on the floor. He hit hook shot after hook shot, added a three, and came away with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and two blocks. He shot 11-17 too, which is hyper efficient for the big man. Hard to ask more out of Al, hopefully the center’s injuries aren’t extensive.  9/10

Jeff Teague: Teague made every important play he possible could have.They tying three to end regulation, a few strips on Kyrie to force turnovers, and the shot that sealed it. He had six turnovers, but it’s extended time helped force a couple of those and he responded well. The latter is huge. Many times Jeff is question because of an apparent lack of focus, but tonight he always had the answers to every tough possible moment. Including when Al Horford went out. 34 points and 14 assists help too.  10/10

Paul Millsap: Paul had some good moments, and he had some bad moments. When Horford went out, it was a little disheartening how the offense struggled when it was ran through him at first. However, when Teague took it over he made some important plays as well. Disrupting Tristan Thompson on a seemingly easy defensive rebound to snag the Hawks an extra possession was the biggest play of the game, until Teague’s shot went later. 7/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll struggled on the fast break early, but wasn’t a really net positive or negative in his 26 minutes. 3-7 from the field for 8 points, with zero turnovers is as unspectacular as it looks. The biggest concern is that he is okay after injuring his thumb in regulation. 4/10

Kyle Korver: Korver had so many attempts hit the rim early, and it was frustrating because they were quality looks too. All those misses early came in handy however, as they started falling when they needed to much. 4-12 from three looks like a bad stat-line, but Korver’s four pointer in the second overtime was one of the biggest plays in a game that was filled with them. He even found a way to work in six rebounds and five assists, both crucial in Horford’s absence. 7/10 Continue Reading…