Archives For LeBron James

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…

Kyrie Irving was ruled out just before the start of Game 2 due to knee tendonitis. Not long afterwards, DeMarre Carroll was ruled a go to start Game 2 against the Cavs.

It didn’t matter.

Without Irving, LeBron James steamrolled through the Hawks’ defense, making the Hawks look helpless as the four-time MVP carved through Atlanta with his passing and scoring to lead Cleveland to a 94-82 victory. Without Irving and Kevin Love — who is absent from the series with a shoulder injury — James put the team on his healthy shoulders and delivered with 30 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists.

“I’ve got a good vocabulary, but I’m sort of running out of superlatives for that guy,” said Coach David Blatt on LeBron. “He’s just a great basketball player.”

James was particularly masterful at adjusting throughout the game, as his scoring early was soon replaced with precision passing as the Hawks’ defense collapsed around him. Eight of James’ first nine assists were on 3-pointers, as James expertly delivered the ball to the likes of Iman Shumpert, James Jones, and Matthew Dellavedova around the perimeter.

“I’m able to make adjustments through the game, just knowing how the defense read and react,” said James on the fluctuations in the way he attacked throughout the game. “Obviously, when you’ve got guys like [Shumpert], who shot the ball extremely well tonight, the defense start to go further and further way from the paint and I’m about to see creases. When they react to me, I’m going to find my guys.”

For the Hawks, the offense became an atrocity in the second half. Jeff Teague led the Hawks in Game 1 with 27 points, but he laid an egg in Game 2 when matched up against Dellavedova. Coach Blatt and the Cavs schemed well, as they went under screens to force the Atlanta guards into shooting jump shots that they are not comfortable with. Teague was 1-for-7 from the field in the second half and did not show the same effort in trying to get to the rim that he did in the first half of the game, nor in Game 1.

“At the end of the day, we went out there, and we didn’t have a lot of energy,” said Carroll. “I think that was the biggest thing.”

Despite his injury, Carroll led the team in minutes in Friday night with 34. Carroll was clearly hampered, however, as he had little to no lift when he attempted to jump. The most athleticism Carroll showed all night was on a run out in transition, where Teague was pushing the ball and Carroll was sprinting at his side, waiting for the drop off pass for an easy bucket. 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…

LeBron James dunked with 37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to end a 13-1 run that drew the Atlanta Hawks within 91-87. Kent Bazemore’s layup with under a minute to play kept it close before James scored then combined with Iman Shumpert to ice the game at the free throw line. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 97-89 at Phillips Arena to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In worse news for the Hawks, DeMarre Carroll sprawled on the ground and writhed in agony after suffering what appeared to be a serious left knee injury with five minutes remaining in the fourth. Carroll had to be helped from the court as he was unable to put any weight on his left leg. His diagnosis will not be confirmed until he can get an MRI.

James finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal and JR Smith added 28 points (including 8-for-12 shooting from 3-point range), eight rebounds, three assists and a block. Cleveland seized control of the game with a 22-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Smith hit the second of consecutive 3-pointers with 2:30 to play in the third to put the Cavs in front 71-63, then opened the fourth with three more to put Cleveland ahead 85-67. He also assisted Tristan Thompson on an alley-oop during the run. Continue Reading…

After missing his first five shots, all 3-point attempts, Kyle Korver hit a pair of threes early in the fourth quarter as the Atlanta Hawks opened up a 91-81 lead en route to a 106-97 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. Al Horford led the Hawks with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting with a game-high nine rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 20 points with four assists in the losing effort and LeBron James added 18 points, six rebounds and eight assists with nine turnovers.

The Hawks started out smoking hot, leading 36-19 behind nine points on 4-for-5 shooting and four rebounds in the first quarter from Horford. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague added eight points each. Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with seven points and two rebounds in the quarter while LeBron James started off shooting just 1-for-5. The Hawks recorded ten assists and only two turnovers in the period while the Cavaliers did not record an assist. The Hawks shot 71% from the field in the quarter and 50% from 3-point range. The Cavs shot just 40% from the field and 2-for-8 (25%) from three.

The Hawks appeared to be closing the half strong as a 6-0 run culminated with a 19-footer from Horford to put Atlanta ahead 53-38 with 2:05 remaining. Then referee Tony Brothers made a questionable goaltending call on a Timofey Mozgov layup and Iman Shumpert hit a three to pull the Cavs within 53-43 at halftime. The Hawks shot 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the second period as the Cavaliers heated up, shooting 5-for-8 as they trimmed Atlanta’s lead. Continue Reading…

When the NBA season began, national analysts were divided on the question of whether the Hawks would make the playoffs. projected the Hawks to be contenders for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Nobody predicted the Hawks would be nine games up on second place and possessors of the NBA’s best winning percentage almost three quarters of the way through the season. However, since HawksHoop predicted the Hawks’ trajectory more accurately than most, I thought I’d explain why setting the bar high seemed like a good idea.

We all know the monkey on the Hawks’ back is the failure to advance past the second round of the playoffs since moving to Atlanta. There have been chances. In 1988, the Dominique Wilkins-led Hawks beat the Celtics in Boston to go up 3-2 in the second round. The Hawks lost Games 6 & 7 by two points apiece. In 2011, the Hawks tied their second round series with the Bulls 2-2 behind 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists from Josh Smith. Smith shot 5-for-19 outside the paint over the final three games and Jamal Crawford shot 3-for-19 from the field (0-for-7 from 3-point range) in Games 5 & 6 as Chicago eliminated Atlanta.

Perhaps the team’s best chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1988 happened in 2012. The Hawks faced an aging Celtics team in the first round as it had in the second round 24 years earlier. Atlanta lost Game 2 and surrendered home court advantage, but had a chance to win it back in Game 3. Rajon Rondo failed to record a single basket or assist in Game 3 while guarded by Kirk Hinrich. Larry Drew made the brilliant decision to sit Hinrich in favor of Jannero Pargo and Willie Green in the fourth quarter and overtime. 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…

Shelvin Mack had sat out the past two games because of the Hawks’ superb depth at point guard with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder. With Teague on the sidelines due to a hamstring strain, Mack had an opportunity to make an impact on Wednesday night against LeBron and the Cavaliers.

And boy did he do just that.

Mack scored a career-high 24 points off the bench, including 17 points and a 5-for-5 performance from 3 in the second quarter that swung the game in the Hawks’ favor. After trailing by 12 in the second, the Hawks rallied to take a 65-60 lead into halftime. Mack’s play translated to the rest of the Hawks in the second half, as Atlanta outscored Cleveland 62-38 in the final 24 minutes to give the Hawks a 127-98 victory.

The Hawks took control in the third quarter by continuously running plays targeting Kevin Love on defense. Paul Millsap and Al Horford accounted for seven straight Atlanta field goals in a span where the Hawks expanded their lead to double-digits. Horford finished with 20 points and four assists, while Millsap tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. 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…

Another Chance for Al Horford

Cole Patty —  October 31, 2014 — 3 Comments

Most people are familiar with Murphy’s Law or at least the current version of “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Commonly said in situations by the Average Joe on one of the days where the bad luck comes in bunches; it’s almost as if the forces of the universe just won’t let something nice happen to them, no matter how much good karma they may have built up.

Al Horford may be a two-time All-Star, but his career also feels like the embodiment of this law. Every time Horford gets a bit of momentum going towards finally becoming the superstar he plays like, something bad seems to happen. On top of that, he is mostly overlooked in the “best center in the East” discussions, he wasn’t named an All-Star during a great 2012-13 campaign, and was constantly overshadowed during his career by the more bombastic Josh Smith. In fact, most of the mainstream media coverage on Horford is about why he should be playing power forward instead of mentioning that he is a matchup nightmare for his larger stone footed counterparts.

As for Murphy’s Law, Horford’s injuries have stifled his growth towards becoming a superstar. When Atlanta powered on to the 5-seed in the strike shortened 2011-12 seasons, Continue Reading…