Archives For Toronto Raptors

The Atlanta Hawks accomplished a very important task starting a interesting journey to the playoffs. After beating the Brooklyn Nets in an overall very lackluster performance (outside of Dennis Schroder), the Hawks finished a disappointing home stand with a 105-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

With the win, the Hawks finished with a 3-3 record and possibly avoiding a potential collapse in the locker room and playoff race to end the season. Atlanta took the season series from the Raptors 2-1 and now own the tie-breaker if the two teams end the season with the same record to determine a playoff position. As always for a total recap of the game, please check out Graham Chapple’s piece on the game on HawksHoop.com. As always, it is a informative and thorough read. With Atlanta in the five slot and chasing Toronto in the fourth spot. THIS GAME WAS HUGE! This could be the start of something here folks.

Dennis Schroder scored 26 points, including 13 points in winning time to lead the Hawks. This has been a massive turnaround from the benching earlier on in the week. I have to admit, I thought this was a major issue (I think it may come back at playoff time but who knows?) but Schroder has done an outstanding job as of late of “walking the walk” and putting the situation behind him. A lot of times players and coaches say everything is okay for the cameras and reporters, but for now, it’s happening before our eyes. Paul Millsap had 21 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 20.

DeMar DeRozan finished with 28 points but he shot 12-for-30 to get those points including 1-for-8 from 3-point land. Serge Ibaka had 18 points for the Raptors.

Looking at this potential first round matchup, I learned a lot, but here are my most important…

Three Lessons

Lesson number one: Boy!!! Dennis Schroder is BALLIN!!!!

Like Jim Jones style…Schroder fly high…no lie…like show biz…BALLIN! The magic number for the Atlanta Hawks when it comes to Dennis Schroder is 25. When he scores more than 25 points in a game, the Hawks have lost only once this season. It bears repeating here, when the Hawks need a basket, Dennis can create offense for his teammates and himself. This was very evident in the fourth quarter when the game was close at 86 apiece.

This is where Schroder took over scoring two baskets in a row and eight of the next ten points to give the Hawks a 96-88 lead. Also read…The Raptors could not stop the Atlanta point guard in crunch time. Throw in six rebounds and five assists, Schroder played an efficient and strong floor game. This is what the Hawks envisioned giving him the keys to the franchise.

Dwane Casey called the struggle a “tough stretch defensively”

More thoughts from Casey, via ESPN.com:

“I thought, other than that, we were competing,”

How about Head Coach, Mike Budenholzer’s take on Schroder’s play…

“Dennis has the ball in his hands a lot of times in the fourth quarter  making decisions, making a good play,” Budenholzer said. “I think it was him offensively then our defense giving us that little bit of separation.”

The wonderful thing about the aggressiveness of Schroder is being able to break down the defense and disrupt the Raptors down the stretch. It seemed to Schroder could get to the paint at will.

Budenholzer’s take on that…

“He collapses the defense”…”He creates offensive rebounding opportunities. At some point, they start switching. Paul drives to the basket and gets the fifth foul on Ibaka after a switch. That’s a tough cover for a point guard covering Paul. I think there a lot of things between Paul and Dennis that they create good things for us.”

Speaking of Paul Millsap…

Lesson number two: Paul Millsap is a MAN!

The Toronto game marked the fifth game that Millsap topped the 20 point plateau. In various NBA circles it has been mentioned that Paul Millsap is one of the most underrated players in the league. In an era where numbers are considered the blueprint of how good players are, Millsap averages around 18 points a game but is a dominant dynamic to the Hawks…

Thabo Sefolosha’s take on Millsap’s importance, via ESPN.com:

“The whole team, we look to him a lot,” Sefolosha said. “He does a lot of things. He can score. He can pass the ball. He’s definitely our go-to-guy. He’s feeling good and he’s doing everything for us out there.”

What you see with Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs is what you get with Paul Millsap in Atlanta. I love the way he goes out and quietly puts in work. The numbers are not as gaudy, but just as important to the Hawks. Millsap is not the guy that is concerned about his “brand”. He’s concerned about being a professional NBA player that goes out and helps his team the best way he knows how. This is not limited to on the court play. He is a key locker room guy that the Hawks need for leadership. This was never more evident than this week, when he spent time on the phone with Dennis Schroder giving advice on moving forward with the benching incident against the Warriors. Since then, Schroder and the Hawks have been on a roll.

Lesson three: Dwight Howard was very active and engaged.

Maybe it was Shaquille O’Neal at courtside looking for Shaqtin A Fool clips. I don’t know, but Howard was active scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, three on the offensive boards. With two blocks and a steal, Howard showed life in a game he should have the matchup advantage. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Howard knocked down six of his nine shots in the game. It is going to be interesting how many fourth quarters Dwight is going to be sitting if he continues to shoot 4-for-10 from the free throw line. He has to shore that up.

Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder will get the headlines, but don’t get it twisted here, the most important player will be Dwight Howard. Howard has to dominate down low on the boards and provide the rim protection needed to get out of the first round which could easily be the Toronto Raptors.

Here’s what I learned…now learn from this!

Head coach Mike Budenholzer scratched Thabo Sefolosha from the starting lineup for being late for pregame warmups. Sefolosha was caught in traffic. The lineup change was only for one game. If there is one thing you have to give Budenholzer credit for, it’s consistency. Punishment is for the entire team. No favorites.

Boy that Atlanta Hawks bench is something. Zero points in the first half?! That’s not going to get it done.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks came up with a hugely important victory over the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on Friday night, 105-99, in a tightly contested affair that saw 17 game ties and 15 lead changes. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 28 points while Serge Ibaka added 18 points. For the Hawks, they had three players who scored 20 or more points in the form of Dennis Schröder (26 points), Paul Millsap (21 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 points).

Hawks win potentially vital tiebreaker 

With this victory concluded the season series between these two teams, just three meetings this year between the Hawks and Raptors. With this victory, the Hawks won the season series 2-1, giving the Hawks the tiebreaker in the event of these two teams ending the regular season with the same record. Why is this so important? The Hawks are just two games behind the Raptors for home court advantage and now own the tiebreaker.

“It’s big, it was the same scenario as the game against Indiana where they were behind us in the standings, but this time we closed it out.”

— Dennis Schröder

This was a huge win for the Hawks. If they had lost this game, they may as well have kissed away any hope of home court advantage as they would’ve trailed the Raptors by four games. But this…this win gives the Hawks a chance of home court advantage but there’s plenty of work to be done yet…

Continue Reading…

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The period after the All-Star break is one of my favorite periods of the NBA season. We know what teams are good, what teams suck and you have a frenzy of teams who are gunning for the playoffs/playoff seeding, potentially trying to implement exciting new pieces along the way. It’s this final run-in before the playoffs that I enjoy so much. Almost everyone has something to play/lose for.

And that brings me to today’s topic: how are the Atlanta Hawks looking heading into the last leg of the regular season?

The Hawks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, sitting just half a game back of the Toronto Raptors, 2.5 games behind the Washington Wizards and four games back of the Boston Celtics for the second seed.

The Hawks haven’t played particularly great over the last few weeks and have pulled out games they had no right in winning (e.g. Houston). That said, the Hawks are right there in the mix for home court advantage despite not playing too well so it makes you wonder, if they did play well, how high in the standings this team could actually finish?

Continue Reading…

Ron Turenne/NBAE

Ron Turenne/NBAE

The Atlanta Hawks avenged their 44 point loss that they suffered against the Toronto Raptors — 13 days ago — with a 125-121 victory in Toronto. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 34 points while his running mate, Kyle Lowry, added another 27, including a 6-for-8 performance from three-point range. Impressive.

Avenging the loss

13 days can a long time in this league and the Hawks proved that last night with a full circle-like performance, bouncing back against the Raptors with a big road win following their 44 point loss at the Air Canada Centre 13 days ago. What was the difference this time around? Well, it’s pretty simple, the Hawks just played much, much better than they did last time out.

Let’s start with scoring, last time out, the Hawks only scored 84 points on just under 40% shooting while shooting 25% from three and attempting 14 free throws, making just seven. The starters combined for just 46 points on 41% shooting with only two starters scored in double-digits (Dennis Schröder scoring 15 points, Dwight Howard scoring 10). Last night the staters scored 83 points (one less than the total number of points the Hawks scored in their last meeting with the Raptors) on 52.7% shooting with four starters scoring in double digits.

Continue Reading…

The Hawks dropped their third game this season against the Toronto Raptors after succumbing to a 105-97 defeat at the ACC last night. Thankfully for the Hawks, they didn’t lose much ground in Eastern Conference home court advantage race as the Miami Heat — somehow — managed to lose to the turmoil infested Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 26 points, while Kyle Lowry also added a double-double — 17 points and 11 assists. For the Hawks, Jeff Teague poured out 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

A quick congratulations…

Well done to the Toronto Raptors for winning their 50th game last night — their first 50 win campaign in franchise history. Well earned.

Hawks just outplayed

Having struggled in their last few games, the Toronto Raptors came out to play last night. A whole bunch of Hawks players struggled on the offensive end — Paul Millsap shot 3-of-8, Al Horford shot 3-of-9, and Kyle Korver shot just 1-of-6. Korver noted that the Hawks left a lot of points out there in the early exchanges.

Continue Reading…

The Atlanta Hawks wrapped up their five game road trip on a disappointing note — a 96-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the ACC. The Hawks were led by Al Horford’s 20 point game, while the Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 30 points. The Hawks will now head back to Atlanta to take on the wounded Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

A good effort at the end of a long trip

Last night was the Hawks’ fifth and final game on the road — a trip that began on March 1st in Golden State.

Although the loss last night was disappointing, the game wraps up a positive road trip where the Hawks went 3-2. Heading into this road trip — considering the talent the Hawks were facing — the Hawks could’ve easily have gone 1-4 on this trip. Big victories against the Clippers and the Utah Jazz, however, mean that this trip is a success.

The Hawks seemed to come out a little less energetic in the second half, but pushed the Raptors for the majority of this game. Coach Mike Budenholzer, while disappointed with the loss, took solace in the fact the Hawks played hard last night:

Continue Reading…

The end of the All-Star break marks the beginning of a hugely significant time of the season — the stretch run. It’s crunch time across the NBA for many teams. You have teams gunning for the number one seed, teams gunning for home court advantage, teams gunning for the playoffs, and you have a few teams gunning for the lottery.

The Atlanta Hawks can be categorised into the second group mentioned — gunning for home court advantage. But they’ve ran into a wall. They’re currently on a three game losing streak and have lost five of their last six games. They currently occupy the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Charlotte Hornets (who have been hot of late) sitting just two games behind the Hawks having played two games less. It goes without saying that the Hawks have to string together W’s down the stretch if they want to obtain home court advantage. What are they key games/road trips/stretches that the Hawks face as the season winds down?

Continue Reading…

Kyle Lowry made a floating jump shot with 4:49 left in Wednesday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena, capping off a personal 8-0 run and putting his team ahead 82-75 after they had trailed by 17 midway through the third quarter. The flu-like symptoms that sent Lowry to the locker room during the first half didn’t keep him from putting up a season-high 31 points (9-of-17, five rebounds, five assists), 22 of which came in the fourth quarter, and Toronto walked away with a 96-86 victory over the struggling Hawks.

“He played very well in the fourth quarter,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Lowry’s efforts. “That’s part of the problem. He did a little bit of everything. He got to the basket, he made a three, he made free throws.”

The Hawks put together an impressive first half defensively, taking a 46-32 lead to the locker room. Al Horford talked about the contrast of defensive effort in the two halves.

“I felt like we probably can’t play better defense than that,” said Horford of limiting the Raptors to 32 first-half points. “I felt like we relaxed in the second half as a team, especially in the fourth quarter. It’s just unacceptable.”

After the Raptors fell behind 58-41 with 6:46 remaining in the third, DeMar DeRozan (17 points, 7-for-16) and Terrence Ross (eight points, 3-for-7) contributed nine and six points respectively to an impressive Toronto run that cut their deficit to single digits heading into the final period. The fourth quarter was all Lowry as Atlanta struggled on both ends of the court. Continue Reading…

DeMarre Carroll’s short time with the Atlanta Hawks has come to an end. In an announcement on Twitter/Instagram, in really the most DeMarre Carroll way possible, he announced that he will be joining the Toronto Raptors.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports had details on the deal.

This is a big moment for Carroll, whom spent the early parts of his career very injured. When the Hawks signed him, he was mainly expected to be a perimeter guard that could add depth to the wing spot. Nobody predicted him turning into a major 3-and-D threat that could punish defenses for not paying attention to him. Throughougt his time in Atlanta, the Carroll has gained the reputation as not only one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, but also one of the most versatile players on the roster. His box score numbers may be low, but anybody that watched Atlanta knows how important he was to the Hawks success. Fans will miss him.

The Hawks had a huge problem on Friday night.

No, it wasn’t that they “needed a big man” like many continue to insinuate about the Hawks after the team stood pat at the trade deadline. It wasn’t that the Hawks needed Gary Neal or Ray Allen, either; this 25-point loss would not have been remedied by a roster change.

Quite simply, the Hawks did not play “Hawks basketball” on Friday night.

Sure, it did not help that Kyle Korver’s shooting was off, as the sharpshooter was 3-for-13 from the field and 2-for-11 from behind the arc. It did not help that Mike Scott was missing wide open dunks or that Paul Millsap was airballing free throws. The Hawks lost because they turned the ball over 20 times through the first three quarters.

Credit to the Raptors for playing great defense and anticipating the passing lanes well, but this was mostly on the Hawks. Their passes were often lazy and the ball started sticking a bit as the turnovers started to pile up. Millsap and Teague frequently tried driving in the lane, but when there was nothing there for them, they tried too much to get bailed out by the refs or to force an awkward pass out to the perimeter never reached its mark. Continue Reading…