Archives For NBA Playoffs

The Atlanta Hawks won wire-to-wire against the Washington Wizards in Game 3 of their best-of-7 series 116-98, trimming the series deficit to 1-2. John Wall led the Wizards with 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting while Brandon Jennings added 13 points.

For the Hawks, they were led by Paul Millsap’s 29 points and Dennis Schröder’s 27 points.

First quarter blitz brings the Hawks back into the series

This game was essentially decided in the first quarter, a first quarter the Hawks dominated.

The Hawks scored 38 points on 65% shooting from the field and drained five three-pointers. For reference, the Hawks totalled four three-pointers in Game 2. Atlanta also held the Wizards to 20 points on 30% shooting from the floor and led by as many as 25 points in the opening period.

“They jumped on us in that first period. Their sense of urgency was very high. I wouldn’t say that we came out relaxed. We came out missing shots, but we let that affect our defense. That’s happened before with us during the season, and it’s not pretty.”

— Coach Scott Brooks

Brooks is right. The Hawks’ sense of urgency was high and it had to be. If they had lost this game it would’ve been a done deal. Commentating on Game 3 of the Cavs-Pacers series, TNT’s Kevin McHale had a great line, something along the lines of: “2-1, it’s a series, 3-0, it’s over”.

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With the regular season winding down rapidly, every remaining game for the Atlanta Hawks is a must-win game. They’re currently locked in a playoff scrap against the Milwaukee Bucks for the 5-seed, with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers just 1.5 games behind the Hawks occupying the 7th, 8th and 9th seeds. Every game is so important. It is essential for the Hawks to avoid those 7 and 8 seeds. They should want absolutely no part of a round one series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could finish 1st or 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

But while the Hawks are furiously engaged in their own playoff race they are set to play a major part in another playoff race — the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are separated by just one game. With three meetings with these two contenders in the last five games of the regular season, no other team in the NBA has more of a say in who claims the top seed in the East than the Hawks do.

And it all starts on Thursday night when the Hawks tackle the Celtics — who are on the second night of a back-to-back having been blown out by the Cavs on Wednesday night — at Philips Arena in another throwback night, donning the Pete Maravich-era jerseys. The season series is tied 1-1 with the both teams winning games in each other’s building. While the Hawks shouldn’t settle a first round series against the Celtics (if that’s what it came to), the Celtics are probably the one team out of Cleveland, Boston and Washington that the Hawks would prefer to face in a round two matchup, should they get there.

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Happy weekend!

A new edition of This Week in the Hawks is here. It’s been a rough week and a bit for the Hawks and today’s topics kinda centre around that. Mostly, about how the schedule is looking for the Hawks and their playoff rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers.

After that, a brief recap of the Wizards and Bucks games before a lookahead to the upcoming schedule.

Thanks for listening, if you enjoyed, share the love it’s always appreciated.

The late composer and lyricist, Irving Berlin, once said “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on…”. If that saying is true — and I believe it to be so — then the Atlanta Hawks’ melody still lingers, despite their unceremonious exit at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month. The Hawks made some sweet, sweet music (not love) this season, and that melody still lives on, even as we head into the summer.

In the second instalment of “Remembering the 2015-16 Hawks” — the mini series where we remember the good things about the Hawks season just passed — we’re going to look at the best individual performances of the season — the moments of magic that got us out of our seats. If you missed the first part, where we looked at the best games the Hawks played this season, you can check it out here.

Before we get cracking though, there’s a few honorable mentions to make note of. These are very noteworthy performances that didn’t make the final list — mainly because I don’t want this to drag on for nearly 3000 words when it doesn’t need to be that long — but deserved attention.

Shout out to Al Horford’s 30-14 game against the Rockets on December 29th, in one of the Hawks’ best wins of the season led by Horford and his five made threes. Shout out to Paul Millsap’s stat stuffer against the L.A. Clippers on March 5th: 20 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. And, finally, shout out to Jeff Teague’s 19 points, 14 assists (one turnover) performance against the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs.

Now that we have those out of the way…

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The Cleveland Cavaliers completed their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks as they took Game 4 in Atlanta with a 100-99 victory in Atlanta. The loss marks the end of a fun season in Atlanta, but the crushing exit at the hands of the Cavaliers — in a second successive sweep — has many Hawks fans torn on where the franchise needs to go next. And we’ll get there in good time, here at HawksHoop but, before all of that, let’s just finish the postmortem of this Game 4 loss.

Block or goal tend?

With 1:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Hawks led 97-96, with the Cavaliers inbounding the ball underneath Atlanta’s basket. Some nice man movement from the Cavs out of the timeout allows LeBron — who frees himself of Paul Millsap — to receive the ball and put it up on the glass for a layup. However, James finds his effort swatted from behind by Millsap, who thinks he has the clean block and rebound, but the whistle sounds and the call is goal tending and the basket counts. As the play is reviewable — as there are less than two minutes remaining in the game — the officials take a look it.

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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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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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The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals (93-104) on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as LeBron James led the way (as he so often does) with 25 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Kyrie Irving added another 21 points to Cleveland’s cause. The Hawks still have an opportunity to capture home court advantage when the two teams go at it again on Wednesday for Game 2.

There’s lots to get to today because, as always, the Hawks know how to make things interesting for Hawks bloggers/writers etc.

A very winnable game escapes Atlanta’s grasp

The Hawks had, somehow, managed to keep themselves within arms length of the Cavaliers (10-ish points) when they ought to have been down by at least 20. However, as much as the Hawks were one run away from making this a game, the Cavaliers were always one run away from blowing this game wide open.

And that’s exactly what happened in the third quarter, as a 12-4 Cavs run meant that the Hawks were suddenly trailing by 18 points, with the crowd fully engaged fresh off of a thunderous LeBron dunk that put the Cavs up 72-54. Now all of a sudden the Hawks have gone from within a run of being in this game, to being in real danger of being blown out in Game 1 — how was their response? Immediate. Mike Scott canned a three-pointer to immediately hush the home crowd, the Hawks got a stop the other way, and then Dennis Schröder drained another three-pointer. In the blink of an eye the deficit was just 12 and the Cavs called for a timeout.

Great initial response from the Hawks not bury their heads after what could’ve been a game breaker for so many teams. A power-dunk from LeBron that put the Cavs up by 18 in the third quarter, with the crowd going nuts. Many teams never recover from that, but I think Mike Scott (being Mike Scott and doing Mike Scott things) shooting and making that three was massive at that time for the Hawks. The crowd is instantly hushed after that shot, and that helps the Hawks in their quest to get another stop. It fuelled the comeback. Never change, Mike Scott…

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The Atlanta Hawks are now on the brink of a second round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they blew out the Celtics 110-83 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. The Celtics were led by Evan Turner’s 15 points while the Hawks were led by Mike Scott’s — yes, Mike Scott’s Game 5 game high — 17 points. The scene now shifts to Boston for Game 6 where the Hawks will have the chance to close out the Celtics for good on Thursday night.

Limiting Isaiah Thomas

Heading into Game 5, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t just the top scorer of this series, but the top scorer of the entire playoffs, averaging 28 points. After he averaged 35 points between Games 3 and 4, the Hawks had an adjustment waiting for Thomas. A lot more trapping and double team action.

They basically forced Thomas to give up the ball and said to the other Celtics “Hey, you go make a play, you make this shot”.

And the Hawks set this tone very early in the game. Here, they try to trap Thomas by extending the double team near the halfway line. Thomas is forced to give the ball up, forcing Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson to try and make a play. In the end, Johnson gets tied up with Bazemore for a jump ball.

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The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 4 in Boston in OT, 95-104, on Sunday evening. The loss means that the series is now tied 2-2 heading back to Atlanta for Game 5 on Tuesday. The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas’s 28 points, and… we’ll get to the Hawks’ leading scorer right now, in greater detail

Millsap’s career night marred by others not making shots

After struggling in the first three games of this series, Paul Millsap turned in the greatest scoring night of his career, scoring 45 points on 19-31 shooting — the most points scored by any Hawk in the playoffs since Dominique Wilkins back in the late 80’s. That’s just incredible, and Millsap was just incredible.

“Just put an emphasis on being aggressive, I felt like I wasn’t aggressive in the first three games and especially on the road, your backs against the wall you got to be aggressive. So, I just wanted to do that tonight and set a tone that way.” — Paul Millsap

“He was our offense. … His performance was amazing. That Paul Millsap right there was pretty awesome. He was in a funk the first couple of games. We knew that he was due to explode. It was good to see. That was the only positive out of this game.” — Al Horford

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