2012-13 Record: 38-44 (8th in East)z-milwaukee

Playoff Result: Lost in First Round

Key Additions:
Caron Butler (trade), O.J. Mayo (free agent), Brandon Knight, (trade) Zaza Pachulia (free agent), Carlos Delfino (free agent), Gary Neal (free agent), Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft), Nate Wolters (draft), Larry Drew (coach)

Key Losses: Brandon Jennings (trade), Monta Ellis (free agent), J.J. Redick (trade), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (trade), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (free agent)

Projected 2013-14 Record: 29-53 (11th in East)*

What to Expect: After making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons last year, Milwaukee has revamped nearly their entire roster.

They did enough over the summer to fight for the eight seed in East (again), but won’t be bad enough to contend for a top draft pick. Milwaukee built depth, but they’ve got no real direction or star power.

The Bucks are building around Larry Sanders as their franchise big, similar to what Milwaukee’s head coach Larry Drew did in Atlanta with Al Horford. They let Jennings, Ellis and Redick walk, then filled their spots with Luke Ridnour, Mayo and Butler. It’s easy to see their scoring will likely take a hit, but Milwaukee should play as a more cohesive team. Drew is the perfect coach for this situation, where it seems that players will likely be interchangeable from the bench to the starting lineup throughout the season to match other teams. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 104, Bucks 99

Bo Churney —  March 25, 2013


MIL  (34-35) 99 – 104 (39-31) ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 24 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl
L. Sanders (MIL): 15 pts, 12 reb, 3 blk

This was a HUGE game for the Hawks to take. They survived Monta Ellis’ three-point barrage in the fourth quarter to comeback and win in Milwaukee, giving the Hawks a 4.5 game cushion over the eighth-seeded Bucks. The key in this game was mismatches, as Ersan Ilyasova couldn’t handle Josh Smith, and there was no way Larry Sanders was going to be able to make up for the mistakes of the guys around him. And despite Monta’s three threes in the fourth, the Bucks only went 5-21 from three-point range, as the Hawks looked invigorated after that terrible defensive effort against the Trail Blazers on Friday night. The Hawks have now won the season series with Milwaukee and only have 12 games remaining on the season; Atlanta would have to lose at least five of their remaining games for the Bucks to even have a shot to catch up.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: AJC reporter Chris Vivlamore asked Josh Smith about his career-high in seasonal three-point attempts on Saturday, and Josh responded in an even bigger way on Sunday… by taking five three pointers IN THE FIRST HALF! He didn’t take any in the second half, however, and Josh actually did a good job of attacking the basket when he saw he had a weak defender on him. His eight fourth quarter points were also very critical in surviving Monta’s consecutive threes. 8/10

Al Horford: Like Josh, Horford also helped out in closing the deal in the fourth quarter, as he had 10 points in the final period. This might have been one of his best all-around nights, as he also had zero turnovers to go with his six assists and he converted all of his foul shots. Well, now that I actually look at it, Josh had zero turnovers as well… HOW WAS THAT POSSIBLE??? 9.5/10

Kyle Korver: His three-pointer streak of 63 games is now the fifth longest in NBA history. He had a trio of triples in this game, and made of couple of key passes and hustle plays on defense. Pretty much par for the course: nothing really flashy, but a lot of key plays made in small areas to help propel the team to victory. 6.5/10

Devin Harris: Guess who’s hurt? Hurt again? Devin’s hurt… tell a friend. Devin did hurt his foot again in this one (an issue that Larry Drew said shouldn’t be too serious), but before that, we was tearing it up in his home state once again. In just 29 minutes of action, he had 16 points, including four triples. Hopefully, this injury doesn’t linger, because the Hawks can’t exactly make up for injuries any more. 7/10

Jeff Teague: Are the Hawks not allowed to have both of their point guards excelling at the same time? Jeff struggled mightily in the first three quarters, but as soon as Devin went out in the fourth, it was a completely different ball game. After starting out 3-for-9 with five turnovers, Jeff didn’t turn the ball over all in the final 12 minutes, and added six points and three assists. While I’m glad we finally got to see aggressive Teague… it would be nice if he could play that way more when Devin is also on the floor and attacking. 6.5/10

Continue Reading…


MIL (34-33) 90 – 98 (38-30) ATL

Key Performers:
A. Horford (ATL): 26 pts, 15 reb, 1ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
L. Sanders (MIL): 19 pts, 14 reb, 2 ast, 4 blk

If you look at the box score of this game, the first thing that stands out is how many players had seven or more rebounds– there were seven (three of which who had 14 or over), and one who had six in 11 minutes of play. The reason, mainly, is that there were a lot of missed shots, especially by Milwaukee. The interesting thing about this game, however, was that, defensively, it was the complete opposite of Monday night’s effort against Dallas, where the Hawks seemingly hit a wall and allowed a barrage of perimeter scoring. Wednesday night was different: Milwaukee shot 37% from the field as opposed to Dallas’s 60+%, they shot 42% from beyond the arc as opposed to 59%, and they were out-rebounded by the Hawks 47-46 as opposed to out-rebounding them by 13. In short, the Hawks took note of their recent shortcomings, and made a concerted, whether conscious or not, effort to turn them around.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: The field goal percentage was ugly. It’s always ugly. Whatever, I’m going to move past that. You could probably guess the kind of shots he took without even watching the game, anyway. And, just like almost every game, I start out with some negative comment on shot selection or something or another, but then I move on to say that he did his part in other areas. And boy did he on Wednesday. He hauled in 16 rebounds over Milwaukee’s super-lengthy front court and also dished out six assists. But because this is Josh Smith, something had to offset those positive markings, so just to troll everyone, he also had six turnovers. 5/10

Al Horford: There’s so much to be said about how well Horford understands the spacing in the Hawks’ offense. He flashes to the right spots every time Teague penetrates the lane, whether that be to the top of the key or out to the wing, and it really opens things up when he’s connecting on his jumper. He was doing so tonight, and was once again a man amongst boys. He scored 26 points on 11-20 shooting and hauled in 14 rebounds. 10/10

Kyle Korver: He was 3-6 from beyond the arc and kept the streak of games with a made three-pointer alive. He’s only 25 or so games away from breaking the record. His streak is clearly more impressive than the other streak that continued Wednesday night (pshhhh 24 wins is supposed to be good or something?). Anyways, Korver wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper as he struggled to stay with both Redick and Dunleavy most of the night. 4/10

Devin Harris: He was the first quarter offense, scoring 10 points early to keep the Bucks from building any sort of lead when the Hawks just seemed out of sorts offensively. He was the only one attacking the lane and getting to the line at the start of the game, and he also had an awesome fake pass that opened up him for a made three-pointer. He finished the night with 15 points and was active on defense, even if he was beaten off the dribble a few times.  6/10

Jeff Teague: That’s another 20-10 game for Teague, who now has eight of those by my unofficial count, and 12 double-doubles on the season. He also has six games where he’s been either one or two assists away from having a 20-10 game. So, in essence, he finds himself with this sort of stat line a lot, which is clearly good for the Hawks. He was a lightning rod Wednesday night, getting into the lane with ease and finishing on some floaters and runners. He was one point away from his career high and tallied 11 assists to go along with those 27 points.   10/10

Continue Reading…

Calling regular season games “must win” when your team is essentially guaranteed a playoff spot may seem silly. It gets even sillier when you’re reminded that the same team has a second-round ceiling in the postseason at best.

However, the Hawks next three games are vitally important for one reason: they need to stay above the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Well, it’s only important if they want to avoid getting bounced in four games by the Miami Heat in the first round.

One of these next three games is at home against a Portland team that habitually struggles on the road. (they’re 9-25 on the road!) The other two, the more important ones, are against the current eighth-seed in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks.

By winning all three of these games, the Hawks can create a sizable cushion between the eighth-seed and themselves. Of course, how do they do it?

Focusing on Milwaukee, the Bucks present an interesting matchup against the Hawks because they have players who can both shoot the ball (Redick, Ilyasova, and Dunleavy) and players that can create off the dribble. (Ellis and Jennings) To top that off, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Larry Sanders give them each an elite wing and post defender.

EDIT: Both Ilyasove and Mbah a Moute will miss tonight’s game.

However, the Bucks have two very exploitable weaknesses. The first, both Jennings and Ellis are awful defenders that will force Larry Sanders to help on a lot of plays. While Sanders is very good at help defense, this will still leave too many open passing lanes for Teague and Harris. Like the last game between these two teams (which the Hawks won, 103-102) expect a lot of passing from the Hawks and big night from Al Horford.

The second major weakness, again, lies with Jennings and Ellis. Both of these guys are volume scorers that aren’t very efficient. Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 103, Bucks 102

Bo Churney —  February 24, 2013


MIL (26-28) 102 – 103 (31-23) ATL

Key Performers:

A. Horford (ATL): 23 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
E. Ilyasova (MIL): 19 pts, 9 reb, 2 stl

The Hawks were down 100-93 with about three minutes remaining when Larry Drew took a timeout. After another failed possession, the Hawks were able to take advantage of an Ersan Ilyasova miss, and got a three from Devin Harris after Jeff Teague pulled off an absolutely amazing wrap-around pass. Another great defensive possession turned into a Josh Smith three (!!!), and the Hawks were only down one. Al Horford the closed the game, getting a dunk off the Josh Smith-Al Horford hi-low, and then scoring with five seconds left on a fake hand-off play.

The Hawks shot 14-28 from behind the arc, which made up for the huge disparity in FG% and rebounding that favored the Bucks. This was their eighth straight game with 25 or more assists, including three games over that span with 30 or more. The victory improves the Hawks to .500 (13-13) on the road.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Josh Smith hitting a clutch three when he was 5-18 from the field before that is the most Josh Smith thing ever. Obviously, he took some questionable shots, but he missed a lot of shots around the rim (seven shots within five feet, to be exact) that he usually converts at a higher rate. He was good defensively tonight, and probably could have had even more rebounds if he boxed out on a couple more plays. 6/10

Al Horford: He took an elbow from Monta Ellis late in the game, but that didn’t stop Al from hitting the game winning bucket. Al is averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds on 65% shooting over his last 10 games. This is probably the longest stretch of the year where he has looked completely comfortable with his shot, and he is even doing some good work in the post. Of course, Larry Drew is also continuing to run great plays to get Al the best looks, of which Al is capitalizing on. 9/10

Zaza Pachulia: Guess who holds the Hawks record for most offensive rebounds in a quarter? Yep, it’s Zaza now. He had seven of them in the 2nd quarter, which was instrumental in helping the Hawks erase a nine-point deficit from the first quarter. Sam Dalembert just couldn’t handle Zaza on the boards, resulting in the two getting in a couple of heated scuffles. It never amounted to much, but you can always count on Zaza to get under the other team’s skin. 7/10

Jeff Teague: This was Jeff’s ninth 20 point game in the last 16 games, a stretch where he is truly showing his improvement from last season. Not only does he appear more comfortable at finishing in traffic, but his passing game is showing that he really is one of the better point guards in the league. (he’s 10th in assists, people) And even now, I still don’t understand how he pulled off that wrap-around pass late in the game. 9/10

Devin Harris: Devin didn’t disappoint playing in his hometown. He had 21 points, and you could tell he was giving it his all when he dove into the stands to save a ball from going out of bounds. He really wanted to win this game and it showed. 8/10 Continue Reading…