Archives For Nikola Pekovic

This game could have definitely been billed as a trap game for the Hawks.

While the Timberwolves haven’t been good all year, they finally have gotten some of their injured pieces healthy. Ricky Rubio is back, Kevin Martin is back, and Nikola Pekovic and Shabazz Muhammad were both healthy for this game. With the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back coming off of a loss against Memphis where Jeff Teague was hobbled with a slight ankle injury at the end, it would not have been too surprising if Atlanta got caught napping by a Minnesota team that still hopes to prove something this year.

Of course, this Hawks team is still proving that it is not one that is going to get caught napping very often.

Al Horford scored a season-high 28 points and DeMarre Carroll scored a career-high 26 points to pave the way for Atlanta in a 117-105 win over the Wolves in confines of the Target Center in Minnesota. The win kept the Hawks from losing consecutive games for the first time since mid-November, when the team dropped games to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It definitely looked early on like that streak could end, as Minnesota was aggressively attacking the boards and getting second chances on offense. The Wolves had 23 offensive rebounds in the game and turned them into 27 second chance points, constantly extending possessions where the Hawks had to reset after playing 15 or 20 second of good defense. The rebounds were a big reason why Minnesota was hanging even with the Hawks at halftime with a score of 57-53 in favor of Atlanta.

But the Hawks turned it around in the third quarter, led by Carroll’s 11 points in the period. Overall, the Hawks committed more to running in transition, scoring a whopping 14 fast break points in the quarter. To their credit, the Wolves kept grinding on the glass and getting second chance opportunities, but the Hawks were mostly able to shut them down and forced the Wolves into 7-for-21 shooting in the period for just 19 points. Continue Reading…

2012-13 Record: 31-51 (12th in West) z-Minnesota

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: Nikola Pekovic (re-signed), Kevin Martin (trade), Corey Brewer (free agent), Shabazz Muhammad (draft), Gorgui Dieng (draft)

Key Losses: Luke Ridnour (trade), Andrei Kirilenko (free agent), Mickael Gelabale (He was important, I swear!)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 45-37 (7th in West)*

What to Expect: I think we can expect the end of Kevin Love doing knuckle push ups, right? The Timberwolves again have playoff aspirations that they hope won’t be derailed by the injury bug that they’ve been plagued with over the past couple of seasons. First it was Ricky Rubio, then it was Kevin Love, then it was… well, everybody.

However, the additions of Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer creating a rather interesting starting lineup with Rubio, Love, and Pekovic. Behind all of that, they will still have Shved, Dieng, Muhammad, Budinger, and Derrick Williams to come off the bench. With a coach as good as Rick Adelman, the only reason the Timberwolves SHOULDN’T make the playoffs is if devastating injuries pop up again. They were 25th in offensive efficiency, but that should vastly improve with Love returning from injury and with the ├╝ber-efficient Martin joining the team. The only concern could be the defense taking a step back with the departure of AK-47 and the aforementioned addition of K-Mart. Continue Reading…

A summer of immense change awaits this Atlanta Hawks team, with the majority of players facing free agency and a coaching vacancy soon needing to be filled. Among all of the hysteria that comes with rebuilding a team nearly from scratch, there is one person Hawks and their fans can be thankful to have anchored in position with the team. That’s Al Horford, two-time All-Star, whose second half of this prior season has solidified his name with the best bigs in the entire league.

Post All-Star break, Horford put up averages of 19.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists a night on 54.8% shooting from the field. The lingering effects of his left pectoral muscle tear – an injury which nearly erased Horford’s 2012 season – have seemingly worn off completely, and Horford has shown us but a snippet of how strong his game is at full health in the late stretch of this past year. This level of performance for such a well-rounded player extended throughout an entire season would raise the question of whether or not he’s a star.

That said, Horford is 26 years old and his contract with the Hawks is set through the 2016 season. With a major rebuilding in the making, having a piece such as Horford gives the Hawks a couple of options to deliberate in the off-season. Atlanta can build around Horford as their star player, and spend their cap space on bringing in the best surrounding cast they possibly can. Or, the Hawks could have Horford take a supplementary role behind one or two star players. There are many aspects here to consider, so let’s begin. Continue Reading…

We will be going live at 1PM to discuss the last series against the Pacers, the current search for a head coach, and of course, free agency!

The Hawks could have anywhere from $30-40 million in cap space this summer. While this class doesn’t exactly have the strength of the 2014 class (ahem, the LeBron class), there are some good pickups the Hawks could make to become a contender.

Here’s the top ten potential free agents in order of priority I would have if I was general manager Danny Ferry.

1. Chris Paul
In my opinion, the best free agent of the class by far. Paul finished third this season in win shares (per Basketball-Reference) and Player Efficiency Rating (PER), behind only LeBron and Kevin Durant in both. CP3’s season is already over after the Clippers lost to Memphis in the first round, which slightly piqued my interest in how available he may be to leave Los Angeles. However, I still believe that the Clippers are going to give him too much power in pure roster decisions and too much money for the Hawks to be able to match. Atlanta will be able to offer around four years, $80 million, which is almost $30 million less than what the Clippers can give. In the end, it will likely come down to which team Paul feels has a better chance at winning a title.

2. Dwight Howard
I don’t think there is a chance that Dwight comes to Atlanta, but Ferry might as well try, right? Despite playing all season with a myriad of injuries, Dwight still managed to average 17.1 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. For the entire season, he wasn’t the defender that we all remember him being, but he did start to look like his former self towards the end of the year. The number one issue most Hawks fans would have with this would be Dwight’s enigmatic personality, but for me, it is more of an issue of cap space; the Hawks would likely have to re-sign Josh Smith to have Howard sign here, which would likely use all of the team’s cap. As strong as a Smith-Horford-Howard frontcourt would be, they would still need some money to fill out the roster with capable players in order to challenge Miami.

3. Andre Iguodala, ETO
Iggy has an opt-out with the Nuggets, which is something that most believe he will exercise; Continue Reading…

FINAL

MIN(16-15) 108 – 103 (20-13)ATL

Key Performers:

J. Smith (ATL): 21 pts, 13 reb, 7 ast, 2 blk
N. Pekovic (MIN): 25 pts, 18 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

While this may have been a fun game near the end, the Hawks wasted a solid opportunity to rebound against a .500 team missing it’s franchise player. The Hawks offense may have worked great, but they turned the ball over too much, and were unable to effectively contain Kirilenko and Pekovic on the other end. After being down big at half, Horford and Josh Smith keyed the Hawks’ comeback, but the two combined for the penultimate miscue with 15 seconds left in the game: Smith threw a bad inbounds pass, and Horford allowed Cunningham to easily get around him for the steal. After two Ridnour free throws, the game was essentially over. The Hawks have now lost three in a row for the first time this season, and only have a marginal lead over Indiana for third place in the East.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Josh Smith: Josh played really well in this one, despite a couple of miscues in the fourth quarter. (a goaltend and the aforementioned inbound pass) His hustle was better in this game than the last few, as he appeared to argue less with the officials, and made some focus to get back in transition. 8/10

Al Horford: Al got the short end of the stick in this one, which mostly showed in the fourth quarter when he was on the floor, but not guarding Pekovic. Yes, Pek did do a lot of damage against Al, but that was not a fair matchup, and Horford should have never been started at the center position in this game. Despite all of that, Al still made some good contributions in this one, including 13 points and six rebounds in the 2nd half, most of which came when he was not on Pekovic. (sensing a theme here?) 7.5/10

Lou Williams: I think “Lou took some pretty stupid shots, but…” should just become my permanent intro line for Lou in these. Despite the shot selection, he was very aggressive late, and played point guard extremely well for the Hawks in the 2nd half when Jeff Teague decided not to be. If he continues to get into the lane like that, there is no reason he shouldn’t be the Hawks’ finisher in the fourth, even if that sounds a bit absurd. 8/10

Kyle Korver: Look back up at Horford’s grade, replace “Pekovic” with “Kirilenko”, and you essentially have the same thing for Kyle. Korver shouldn’t have been on AK47 so much, which was clear when Andrei kept getting open off the ball in the 1st half. Otherwise, Kyle made most of his threes, but still, he should never been dribbling the ball. Ever. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff was bad this game, as his stat-line doesn’t even convey how bad he was defensively. He constantly let Minny’s guards get around him, which game guys like Rubio and Shved all kinds of passing lanes. 2/10 Continue Reading…