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Happy Friday, happy weekend!

Episode 7 of This Week in the Hawks is here for your listening pleasure. Topics this week include:

  • All-Star Saturday and its participants
  • The Hawks bringing Lamar Patterson
  • The Hawks’ D-League announcement
  • A brief recap of the 4OT games vs. the Knicks before recaps of the Heat and Rocket games
  • Stats from the week and the upcoming schedule

Thanks for listening! Even if you don’t listen, hey, thanks for stopping by.

Oscar Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped the first game of their back-to-back road trip against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, falling 93-116. Goran Dragić scored 27 points while Dion Waiters added 20 points as the Heat stretched their win streak to nine games.

Hawks outplayed, outhustled 

After playing a gruelling 4OT game on Sunday, the Hawks gave their players both Monday and Tuesday off in order to recover. Despite that, the Hawks showed poor energy and effort compared to their division rivals, the Heat seemingly winning all of the 50-50 balls and just outhustled the Hawks. James Johnson in particular was running riot and no Hawk could match his energy and tenacity. James Johnson. When James Johnson is outhustling your entire team, I’m going to say that’s a problem.

The Hawks had started this game off O.K. but three consecutive threes for the Heat forced Bud into a timeout. The Heat took a seven point lead into the second quarter and continued to outhustle and outplay the Hawks in the second quarter behind an 11-0 run. The Heat would take a 15 point lead into the locker room at the half before stretching their lead to 20 points in the third and, with a game against the Rockets looming in the very near future, Bud decided to wave the white flag before the third quarter was even over. And that was, pretty much, all she wrote. There was some interesting drama in garbage time but we’ll get to that soon.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks knocked off division rivals, the Miami Heat, 103-95 at Philips Arena last night. The Heat were very shorthanded last night, playing without Dion Waiters, Luke Babbitt, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Josh Richardson and Chris Bosh (as they have done all season) but got a significant contribution from Tyler Johnson, who scored a career high 27 points on the second night of a back-to-back.

Losing streak snapped

It’s over! The Hawks’ seven game losing streak is over, it’s only their second win in their last 12 games. How badly did they need this win?

“As bad as we need air.” — Paul Millsap

“He’s right. That’s all we’ve been thinking about since the last game, how we could come in and get this game. I thought our effort and our energy were in the right place and we got a good win.” — Dwight Howard

The Hawks are still below .500 with an 11-12 record, but it’s a start, something to build on. They actually played a very decent game against the shorthanded Heat, playing well on both sides of the floor. Of course, Coach Bud never settles and knows the Hawks can play much better.

“It’s good. I think we can play a lot better. We can get better. The work the guys put in the last couple days….the ball movement, the 27 assists is better. I think we need to keep building and keep getting better, but it’s good to get a win.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Bud briefly mentioned the 27 assists the Hawks registered, some of the ball movement last night was exquisite and the Hawks, having struggled with their ball movement of late, have now dished out 53 assists in their last two games. A very positive trend.

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Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made it five wins in a row following their latest conquest over the shorthanded Miami Heat — who were without Goran Dragić and Justise Winslow — with a 93-90 road victory. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s team high 18 points while the Miami Heat were led by Tyler Johnson’s game high 19 points and Hassan Whiteside’s 19 points, 25 rebounds performance, the most rebounds in a game by any player in the league so far this season (as well as a season high 10 offensive rebounds).

Dwight Howard’s injury: last night and going forward

The Hawks got the win but the big news from Miami was that Dwight Howard injured his left quad and sat out of the fourth quarter. Speaking after the game:

“It’s super tight right now. Really painful. I wanted to come back out there but they said it wasn’t worth it this early in the season. There is a lot of pain. We are going to get treatment tonight, get treatment in the morning and see how it feels.” — Dwight Howard

Howard sustained the injury when he banged into Hassan Whiteside late in the third quarter. Coach Bud said that the Hawks would be “aggressive” when it came to treating the injury (since the Hawks play again later today at home to Milwaukee) and Dwight is officially listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game.

Dwight had been doing a good job defensively on Whiteside, but his absence meant that the Hawks had their hands full trying to deal with Whiteside in the fourth quarter. They struggled initially but Paul Millsap decided he wanted to guard Hassan as the Hawks’ center in crunch time.

“Usually whenever Paul asks for something, he gets it.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Millsap took up that position with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Whiteside had grabbed five rebounds (three of them offensive) in the fourth quarter up to that point, how many did he secure in crunch time after Paul checked in at center? One.

“I feel like I can cause him some problems. I can get to his body, get low, keep him out of the paint. If he catches it, use my hands to disturb him. The few times he got it, I was able to deflect it.” — Paul Millsap

Yes, with those “f***ing amazing hands” Millsap’s hands can indeed cause problems… But it’s worth pointing out that Whiteside (on the second night of a back-to-back) was pretty gassed by this stage of the game and I’m sure it did contribute.

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Every October, 30 NBA franchises (well, 29, discounting the Sixers who have no interest in the playoffs right now) begin a journey, a journey whose destination lies in the form of post season basketball, the playoffs – the pinnacle of professional basketball. The place where champions are crowned and legends are made. Only 16 teams will arrive at this destination come mid April. And out of those 16 teams, only eight of them – four East, and four West – will begin their playoffs journeys at home. The opportunity to play the first two games of a seven game series (at least in the first round of the playoffs) at home. The home fans cheering, feeding, and fueling their team with their energy and excitement, hoping they can use it to gain an advantage. This, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is known as home court advantage – something many teams strive for throughout the regular season in order to give themselves the best chance of success in the playoffs.

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the four teams in the Eastern Conference to secure home court advantage, thanks to the Boston Celtics’ loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. Who they will face in the first round is unclear, that is to be determined on the final night of the regular season, tonight. They could face anyone of the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, or Boston Celtics.

But the objective of the Hawks’ season is not just to make the playoffs, nor to win just one playoff series and crash out in round two, happy with one playoff series win. I mean, that’s fine if you’re one of the lower seeds like the Detroit Pistons, but this Atlanta Hawks team is beyond that point in their journey. They are a team stacked with many veterans who have tasted the playoffs on many, many occasions (this current Hawks roster combine for 568 playoff games), and one playoff series win/getting KO’d in round two this season simply wouldn’t be good enough – especially for a team who made the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

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The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their stretch run with a 115-111 home loss against the Miami Heat — the extremely shorthanded Miami Heat. Oh, boy… Let’s just get stuck right into it.

 The worst loss of the year

I feel pretty comfortable saying that this was the worst loss that the Hawks have suffered this season. I mentioned that the Heat were shorthanded, maybe that was an understatement. They were without Chris Bosh (please get well soon, Chris Bosh. The NBA needs you on the court), Dwayne Wade, Tyler Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside. Bob Rathbun mentioned on the broadcast that 55% of the Heat’s offense was missing last night — and the Hawks still found a way to lose.

Sure, the Hawks were without Tiago Splitter (who is now done for the season), but everyone else was healthy and rested. You could argue that it’s just rust, since the Hawks haven’t played since Wednesday February 10th, but it was the exact same story for the Heat. In fact, the Heat haven’t played since last Tuesday and their lineup that day was completely different to the one that played the Hawks.

Those who suited up for the Heat played their heart out. Inspired, season high performances from Luol Deng (30 points, 11 rebounds) and Josh McRoberts (19 points, 10 assists) willed the Heat to victory. It also willed the Heat fans in attendance at Philips Arena — the “Let’s go Heat” chants as Goran Dragic was shooting free throws near the end were so loud. It was amazing how loud those Heat fans were, and they had every right to be. They deserved this victory An inexplicable loss for the Hawks.

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Atlanta Hawks, 60-22, 1st in the East ATL

Wow, what an incredible year for the Atlanta Hawks. Anybody that had watched the Hawks last year knew how injured they were, and how much better they were going to be this season, but 60 wins? Not even the most optimistic of Hawks fans believed that this team had that in them. They set all kinds of franchise records, got the entire city of Atlanta behind them in support, and they even brought back the old school pac man logo. Now, everything shifts. It would be easy to say that no matter what happens Atlanta had a successful season, but Hawks fans will say otherwise. This is a franchise that has never once been to the conference finals their entire time in Atlanta, despite years and years of going to the playoffs. Hawks fans are tired of being the constant image of mediocrity. It’s conference finals, or failure, with this team.

Washington Wizards, 46-36, 5th in the East WAS

Yeesh, the Washington Wizards had one heck of a weird season. They started off the year battling the Toronto Raptors for the number one seed in the entire conference, and had what felt like everybody on their bandwagon. Flash forward a few months and they’re in a nosedive towards the middle of the pack while teams like the Hawks, Bulls, and Cavs passed them. Now they enter the playoffs with the same seed as last year, arguably playing worse, and have to defeat those same Toronto Raptors. Bet both teams wish it was December again.
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This week in the southeast, Atlanta pulverizes Brooklyn, because they must REALLY want that lotto pick. Washington is rebounding nicely, because playing the East lets teams do that, Miami has fallen out of the playoff standings all together, Charlotte is somehow still alive, and Orlando is playing spoiler.

Atlanta Hawks, 57-19, 1st in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Atlanta had a rough road trip, and they struggled a bit in their first couple games back home, but a few games against the East appears to have fixed any problems that were ailing the Hawks. They beat Milwaukee in very convincing fashion, and that’s a team that’s given them fits this year. More impressive than that was the complete beat down the Hawks gave Brooklyn on Saturday. A 32 point victory won’t give the Hawks that lotto pick they so desire, but it does make them look really scary.

Washington Wizards, 43-33, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards had a pretty great week. Yes, two of their three wins came against the Sixers and Knicks, but they also beat a struggling Grizzlies team. That has to count for something right?…..RIGHT!? Well not really, but they have clinched a spot in the playoffs and are looking to be heading for a playoff matchup against Toronto, which happens to be the only upper tier Eastern conference team that’s been struggling as much as they have.
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This week in the southeast, Atlanta is resting, Washington’s coach is walking off, Miami has life, Charlotte is stinking, and the Magic are showing some promise.

Atlanta Hawks, 55-18, 1st in the East, 2-2 this week ATL

Atlanta’s week got off to a really bad start when they got smacked around by the San Antonio Spurs. It was the kind of game that’s starting to cause some concern among fans, and experts, about the Hawks post all-star break struggles. Is it just coasting or is there more to it? The following games didn’t say much as Atlanta beat both Florida teams before resting all their starters in a loss against Charlotte.

Washington Wizards, 41-33, 5th in the East, 1-4 this week WAS

The Wizards went out west this week and everything went to the pits for them. They went on a three game losing streak, pulled out a win against a Hornets team that can’t stay out of their way, and then immediately lost to the Houston Rockets. The “highlight” of their week is when Randy Wittman walked off the court before the game was over when his team was attempting to win the game on a halfcourt heave. Not a great look coach.
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This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks are resting and coasting their way to the finish line, the Washington Wizards go streaking, there’s a switch in division standings for the first time in quite awhile, and the Orlando Magic are doing Orlando things. No, not going to Disney World, but losing games…and okay well maybe going to Disney World too, but what does that have to do with basketball?

Atlanta Hawks, 52-14, 1st in the East, 3-1 this week ATL

It’s weird to be talking about how the Hawks haven’t been playing well, but…they haven’t been playing well. The Los Angles Lakers game doesn’t count cause they were resting players, but before that Atlanta received a throttling to a revived Denver Nuggets, and needed a 4th quarter come back to escape Phoenix with a victory. It makes sense that after clinching the playoffs, and at this point of the season, the Hawks would coast a little to the end, but it’s a little worrisome to see them play so horribly at times. If they ever go through a stretch like that in the playoffs it could cost them a game. However, if any of these problems they’re having are real, they can figure them out now with a month before the games really begin to matter again.

Washington Wizards, 38-28, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards are going streaking! They’ve won three in a row with some quality wins against a Hornets team they had lost five times to going in to last season, and an even bigger win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Washington has struggled beating better teams for much of the season, but if they can get back to what made them great early in the year then they could become a threat in the East once more.

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