Archives For Mike Muscala

Happy Friday and happy All-Star break!

Episode 9 of This Week in the Hawks covers a whole range of lovely topics including:

  • Mike Budenholzer confirming that Paul Millsap will not be traded
  • Some Larry Sanders talk
  • The Hawks looking to add talent ahead of the trade deadline, what they need and what’s out there
  • Game recaps from the Hawks’ three game Western Conference road trip
  • And some team and player stats from the last five games

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed, perhaps consider giving this an ‘aul ReTweet and apologies again for any audio issues, still figuring out the kinks of a new setup. You know how it goes.

Annie Finberg/NBAE/Getty Images

In one of the most important games of the season, the Atlanta Hawks laid an egg at Philips Arena as they were run out of their own building by the Washington Wizards, falling 112-86 to their division rivals. All five of the Washington starters scored in double digits, led by Otto Porter’s 21 points.

Horrible loss

This was such an important game for the Hawks. The Wizards sat 1.5 games behind the Hawks prior to this game and the season series was tied at 1-1. The winner of this game would be in the drivers seat for the tiebreaker and it’s possible that these two teams will finish the season with similar records, giving the owner of the tiebreaker a huge advantage in terms of playoff seeding. And for the Hawks to lay the egg that they did in this game…unbelievable.

The Wizards flew out of the gates here, an 8-1 start to this game quickly forced Bud into a timeout. But this did little to rattle the Wizards, who scored 37 first quarter points on 56% shooting while the Hawks scored 25 points on 38% shooting. The Wizards did shoot the ball well but the Hawks were poor defensively, their energy and effort lacking.

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Happy Friday!

It’s that time of the week again, This Week in the Hawks Episode 5 covers a wide range of topics including:

  • The All-Star reserves and why Paul Millsap deserved his spot
  • The Hawks’ pending D-League move
  • Game recaps including the comeback against the Bulls, Wade’s and Butler’s comments
  • Stats from the week
  • A look at the Hawks’ upcoming fixtures

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Monday afternoon’s game against the New York Knicks marked the Atlanta Hawks’ 41st game of the regular season, the halfway point of the Hawks’ regular season. It has certainly been a topsy-turvy 41 games to say the least and with the Hawks not in action until tomorrow, now seems like a good time to breakdown the Hawks’ season so far using a number of different headings and awards.

Team stats

Let’s go through the splits — and where in the league the Hawks rank — first and then we’ll have a lovely little chat about it.

(Stats courtesy of NBA.com and basketball-reference and are correct as of January 16th)

Record: 24-17 (4th in the East, 11 overall)

PPG: 103 (19th)

FG%: 45.6% (14th)

3PM: 9 (19th)

3P%: 34.6% (23rd)

FT%: 71.8% (28th)

RPG: 44 (13th)

ORPG (offensive rebounds per game): 10.6 (12th)

APG: 24.1 (6th)

SPG: 8.7 (3rd)

BPG: 5.1 (10th)

TOV: 15.5 (25th)

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from their disappointing loss against Al Horford and the Boston Celtics on Friday night with a 111-98 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday evening. Giannis Antentokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Greg Monroe added 13 points off of the bench.

Welcome back, Baze

The Hawks are just so much more fun when Kent Bazemore has it going and he had his best game in a long time this evening. Baze scored 24 points (the most he has scored in a game since November 8th when he scored 25 points against the Cavaliers) on 8-of-13 shooting and 4-of-7 from behind the arc.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks’ offense sputtered down the stretch as they dropped another home game to another team below .500, this time to the Minnesota Timberwolves (who were 8-19 heading into this game), 94-82. Karl-Anthony Towns posted a nasty double-double, 17 points and 18 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins scored a team high 19 points. Per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Towns is the first NBA player this season to record three consecutive games of at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in a game. The last player to do it was… Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014.

Offensive woes in final period

Despite a woeful start to this game (the Wolves quickly running out to 12-2 and 15-4 leads respectively), the Hawks — again without Dwight Howard — were in a decent position to win this game, tied at 80 apiece with 5:41 remaining in your own building. Thennnn… the offense broke down, the Hawks only scored four points the rest of the way while the Wolves scored 12 points to take them to victory, only their 10th victory of the season.

So, what happened? The Hawks could have easily won this game… what happened down the stretch? Let’s go through it chronologically.

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Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks (without Paul Millsap) dropped their fourth game in succession — and their seventh in eight games — after losing out to the Phoenix Suns at Talking S(h)tick Resort Arena, 107-109. Brandon Knight led the Suns in scoring with 23 points while receiving other significant contributions from P.J. Tucker and Jared Dudley, who scored 17 points each.

End of the road (trip)

Atlanta’s five game road trip is finally over. It’s been a rough week and a bit for the Hawks, five games in seven nights and only a 1-4 record to show for all their efforts. It’s safe to say everyone is looking forward to putting this road trip behind them and getting back home to Atlanta.

“…it’ll be good to get back home, sleep in your own bed and get ready to get back at it.” — Kent Bazemore

“You never feel good when you have a tough road trip and you’ve lost a few in a row. But I think we are looking forward to going home…” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

It was a weird game for the Hawks to drop. Not so much of the opposition (although the Suns were 5-13 heading into last night’s game) but listen to these stats from last night’s game:

The Hawks shot 50% from the field, shot 36% from behind the arc, scored over 100 points, scored 21 second chance points, scored 20 fastbreak points, scored 29 points off of the Suns’ turnovers and had three players who scored 20 or more points… And still lost. Kent Bazemore had an… interesting, shall we say, way of describing how the Hawks have been playing of late.

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 Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks suffered their sixth loss in seven games as they dropped a tightly contested fixture against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, 105-100. The Warriors had three players who scored 20 or more points, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry both scored 25 points while Klay Thompson added 20 points to the Warriors’ cause.

A valiant effort, reason for optimism going forward

Although the Hawks did lose their sixth game in their last seven games, they can be proud of how they played competed against arguably the best team in the NBA, the Warriors now winners of 12 straight games. This was not a bad loss. The Hawks played some good defense — holding the team with the highest offense efficiency in the Warriors (115 points per 100 possessions heading into this game) to 101 points per 100 possessions — and played some good offense, much better than we’ve seen it of late and they cracked 100 points for the first time in six games.

“Definitely better than what it (the Hawks’ offense) has been. We still have to get better. It’s a loss. It goes on to the record. It’s tough but we’ll take and build on it.” — Paul Millsap

The Hawks seemed to run out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Hawks 25-19. The Hawks missed some decent looks and when the Warriors’ defense clamped down, you just weren’t sure who was going to step up for the Hawks offensively.

A period of the game that, I thought, proved costly for the Hawks was that period of the game where end of the third quarter ends and the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Tim Hardaway Jr. misses a three-point attempt in the dying embers of the third quarter, and from the resulting stop Ian Clarke drains the buzzer-beating three to cut the Hawks lead from four to one heading into the fourth quarter. The Warriors, with the crowd now energised, reeled a quick 6-0 run that gave the Warriors a five point lead, a lead they would not relinquish.

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Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks snapped their three game skid — and began their five game road trip — by knocking off the Indiana Pacers 96-85 in Indiana. We’ll get to Dwight Howard’s line in a bit, but Paul Millsap also had a significant impact in this game, scoring 18 points, collecting 11 rebounds, dished out five assists, came up with four steals and blocked three shots.

Reacquainting with an old friend

Jeff Teague spent seven years in Atlanta before requesting a trade this summer. This request was granted with Teague heading to Indiana in the deal that sent George Hill to Utah and the 12th overall selection in the 2016 draft heading to Atlanta.

Chris Vivlamore of the AJC posted a story about Jeff Teague, it’s worth worth checking out. Jeff talks about Atlanta’s ceiling with himself and Al Horford, Dennis Schröder and more. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, the day Teague found out he was headed home:

“When Bud calls you it’s either really good or really bad,” Teague recalled Wednesday morning before his new and former teams met for the first time since the trade. “I said most likely it’s really bad because it’s the summer time and he’s calling me.”

Teague said Budenholzer’s voice cracked. That’s when he knew there had been a trade. The first thing Teague wanted to know was where he was headed.

“I kept reading that I was going to Philly,” Teague said. “I was like he’s going to send me to Philly. Nothing wrong with Philly, great place, great organization. I was like ‘C’mon. C’mon.’ I didn’t even think this (Indiana) was happening. I thought it was Utah, Dallas or Philly. He said, ‘I sent you home.’ I said, ‘Indiana?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I might regret this, but I’m thankful for what you did, and I appreciate you.’”

Ha-ha, “I might regret this”. Considering the Pacers are now 7-9, it’s pretty unlikely (even though it’s still early) that the Hawks and Pacers are going to meet in the playoffs, I don’t think he’ll be regretting it too much now.

Anyways, last night was the first time the two parties met since that trade, in a matchup that Teague called “awkward”.

“It was awkward but it was fun to compete. I wish we could have won.” — Jeff Teague

It was cool to see Teague smiling and catching up with his old teammates pre-game and fun to see him head over to Bob Rathbun and Dominique, as they were live, and pretend to stroke Bob’s hair.

I was excited to see him and Dennis Schröder get after each other, but the matchup was underwhelming in the end. The two didn’t really get after each other and the two didn’t have the greatest games, Teague scoring 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting while Dennis put up nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. That was disappointing, and now we have to wait until March to see Jeff Teague again when the Pacers come to Atlanta.

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Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

On the second night of a back-to-back, without Dwight Howard and Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks notched their six consecutive victory after they topped the Milwaukee Bucks 107-100 in Atlanta. Paul Millsap led the way with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting while Jabari Parker scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half for the Bucks.

Decisive second quarter

The Hawks entered the second quarter trailing 26-21 and reeled off a 19-0 run to begin the second period in what proved to be a decisive run as the Hawks outscored the Bucks 31-9. The Bucks shot 3-of-28 in the period and faced an uphill battle the rest of the way.

shotchart_1479408142781

“We couldn’t make the ball fall in the second quarter. We scored just nine points. It was hard to recover.” — Giannis Antetokounmpo

This run was sparked by the second unit and their energy was instrumental in reeling off the run and with Thabo Sefolosha sitting this one out, Taurean Prince finally got the opportunity to showcase what he’s all about.

Prince had the building rocking when he exploded to the rim for this dunk.

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