Archives For Utah Jazz

Atlanta has suffered through several blowouts so far this season that should give pause to whether or not this team is capable of making a deep playoff run.

In every single one of those blowouts, they looked unequipped and unenthusiastic facing opponents with several shooters and playmakers. Washington, Detroit, and Utah all showed just that this year’s defense, allowing the most points per game under Coach Budenholzer’s tenure, does not seem to be imposing their will on teams as in seasons past.

The reason that may be? Those aggressive teams mentioned above have figured out the weaknesses of the Hawks’ defense, and they are well-equipped to attack it.

“We know that they are a team that likes to have their bigs play back in pick and roll coverage,” said Washington’s Bradley Beal. “So we took full advantage of it and were able to come off screens for jumpers or get in the lane and create for someone else.”

Beal’s teammate — star point guard John Wall — added on to that assessment.

“They are a type of team that closes out the paint first, then closes out on shooters, so with me and Bradley being aggressive in pick and rolls, guys just have to be ready to shoot.” said Wall. “More teams are just going to give me the shot in pick and rolls by allowing me and Gortat to play two-on-tow or take us away and let the weak side score.”

In Washington and Atlanta’s Jan. 27 meeting that the Wizards won 112-86, the box score said the Wizards posted a 42% 3-point field goal percentage, but witnessing it felt more like 52%, as many of them were taken without much contest from defenders. More alarming than some of those other blowouts was that the Hawks were fully aware stepping onto this court that they were facing a Top 10 3-point shooting squad in Washington and apparently made no adjustments from their usual scheme.

The pick and roll scheme, along with electing to pack the paint, seems works well when you face teams like the Bulls or Nets that lack floor spacers. Honestly, it was very apparent last season when Cleveland swept Atlanta for a second straight time that eventually talents trumps scheme; we see that every year during march Madness when a Cinderella run ends once they face an overwhelming gifted roster.

Some believed heading into the season that Dwight Howard could take this Hawks defense to a level that Al Horford could not. Although Howard thrives in rim protection, teams have steadily tried to force him into defending the pick and rolls more frequently, an area he may not be completely comfortable in. Combined with that, the farther Howard is away from the rim, the less of a rebounding presence he becomes. This then results in more offensive opportunities for opponents, as evidence by the Hawks’ currently ranking 26th in opponent second chance points and 23rd in opponent offensive rebounds. While many put a lot of stock in Howard’s pure rebounding numbers, replacing Horford — who excelled in reading coverages and moving his feet well enough to disrupt ballhandlers — is not a skill you can find just anywhere in this league.

The focus in this series of clips is to watch how Howard and Mike Muscala have been instructed to sag back into the paint.

Now when Budenholzer chooses to blitz the ballhandler off the pick and roll by forcing him to one side of the floor, there are only two reactions from opponents: panic or patience. Teams like Washington and Cleveland play with a certain level of patience because they have multiple sources of offense. Those secondary options can make the right pass or drift to the right spot on the backside of the defense for higher percentage looks from downtown. Utah is another team this season who has proven that with length, shooting and playmaking, this Top 5 ranked defense can look discombobulated.

While the Hawks often excel at trapping, this series shows just how vulnerable the weakside is whenever the Hawks trap one side. Not every team can take advantage of that, but Utah’s Gordon Hayward explains why some of the top teams in the league are able to do so.

“They do a good job of coming over, shifting early and shutting down rolls,” said Hayward. “We are unique because we have a lot of playmakers and taller guys so we can see over the defense, which helps make that extra skip pass.”

Hayward’s teammate and point guard George Hill echoed similar sentiments.

“You have to be fundamentally sound when you play these guys,” said George Hill. “Coach Bud is a great coach and they have a lot of great players that are active. So you have to strategically pick them apart as far as attacking the bigs getting them in two-on-one options, where we can get the ball out of the trap and try to play two-on-one on the backside.”

For the last couple seasons, it always felt as though no matter how poorly the Hawks struggled to score the ball that the defense would always be there to keep the game close. They could buckle down in any moment and jumpstart some type of offense, but not so much this season. Yes, the defense enabled them to comeback from 20-point deficits in Milwaukee and Houston, but in order to think like a champion, you must think pessimistically. In the Hawks’ case, it’s not just about blown leads and lost games, but wins too; even in victories in which they had a substantial lead, they closed out the game rather poorly from a defensive standpoint.

Playoff time is just around the corner and no considerable changes to the roster seem forthcoming. The scheme can be and has been very effective obviously, but its weaknesses could very well be the reason they won’t make it very far in this year’s postseason.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

After winning wire-to-wire against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, the Atlanta Hawks lost wire-to-wire against the Utah Jazz on Monday. Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 30 points while Georgia native Derrick Favors scored a season high 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s 21 points.

Utah’s third quarter

The Hawks did a decent job recovering from a 17 point deficit in the second quarter, cutting the lead to just two points at one stage before heading into the locker room trailing by four points. The Hawks trailed by just three points (65-62) with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter but a 20-4 run by the Jazz really set the two teams apart as the Jazz shot 80% (nope, not a misprint 80%) in the third quarter for 37 points. The Jazz eventually hung 120 points on the Hawks on 61% shooting. As you could imagine, this left coach Bud most displeased.

“The offensive execution, the ball movement, everything Utah did was very good. A lot of credit to them. We give up 61-percent, 120 points. It’s just not the defense we were expecting, the defense that put us in a position to have a decent stretch of games. It starts and stops with 120 and 61-percent. It’s not good enough.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

It seemed as though the Hawks were due for a letdown loss and this was it. Half of the roster were in Houston for Super Bowl 51 on Sunday night and that seemed to be a factor in this game, the Hawks were a little sluggish out of the gate. However, according to Bud, that wasn’t an issue the morning of the game:

Continue Reading…

Hawks Tune Out the Jazz

Bo Churney —  January 3, 2015

The Hawks started their three game road trip in Utah on Friday night and took care of the Utah Jazz by a score of 98-92.

Jeff Teague led the way for Atlanta with 26 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Teague got a lot of his work done early, scoring 18 in the first half with an array of drives to the basket and outside shots. He was a big reason why the Hawks were leading by as many as 19 in the opening quarter.

The Jazz were able to quickly fight back from that huge deficit, getting the Hawks’ lead down to as few as three in the second quarter. Utah’s Dante Exum, Trevor Booker, and Rudy Gobert were able to outpace the Hawks’ bench, with Booker providing some offense, Gobert the defense, and Exum a mix of both. Gobert, a 7′-1 center from France, had four blocks in the game.

Exum, a rookie from Australia, had a career game from off the bench. The number five pick from the 2014 Draft scored a career-high 13 points and also chipped in two assists and three steals. Exum’s length was somewhat problematic for Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder, which effectively disrupted the Hawks’ second unit and allowed Utah back into the game.

The two teams essentially traded runs in the second half, with the Hawks starting theirs first and stretching the lead to as many as 20. But once again, Utah’s second unit was able to fight back into the game and get the deficit back down to double digits. The Hawks potentially played Mike Scott to a fault here, as a lineup with him and Al Horford as the big man struggled to work against the length of Rudy Gobert. With Pero Antic an apparent healthy scratch, this would have been a good time to use the long and athletic Mike Muscala, but coach Budenholzer stuck with his guns and played with Horford and Scott. Continue Reading…

Paul Millsap needs to undergo a name change.

The Hawks starting forward had a slight wardrobe malfunction on Wednesday night, which saw his jersey initially misspell his last name as “Milsap”. His jersey was replaced with a correct one before the first quarter ended, but the damage had been done and this would forever be the night that Paul was known as “Milsap”. He made sure that the fans would not forget it either, as Millsap had recorded a double-double by halftime, recorded a huge dunk that ended up on Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays, and finished with a monster stat line of 30 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks to lead the Hawks to a 100-97 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The first half saw little to no effective defense being played, as both the Hawks and Jazz were getting whatever they wanted on offense. The Hawks were more dependent on jumpshots, while the Jazz were being extremely effective at clearing out Millsap and Al Horford from under the basket to get easy shots at the rim. Halftime saw Mike Budenholzer adjust against his former assistant Quin Snyder, as the Hawks were able to more effectively shut off the lane and force the Jazz out into long 2s, of which the Jazz still made relatively often.

The two teams continued to go back and forth all the way until the final minute, where Kyle Korver hit a deep 3 out of isolation to give Atlanta a 98-97 lead. The remaining three Jazz possessions ended with a blocked shot attempt, a turnover, and a horribly missed 3-pointer thanks to great defense from Korver, and the result was an Atlanta Hawks win that put them over the .500 mark at 4-3. Continue Reading…


UTA(22-44) 110 – 112 (27-35)ATL

Key Performers:
K. Korver (ATL): 26 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl
T. Burke (UTA): 23 pts, 2 reb, 4 ast

First half was great. The Hawks led 59-44 at halftime and they were clicking in every aspect of the game. However, the Jazz rallied and scored 36 points in the third quarter to take the lead, exposing what has been the worst defense in the league since the All-Star break. Luckily, the Hawks were able to make a rally of their own behind the efforts of Elton Brand, DeMarre Carroll, and Kyle Korver, who has hit his last seven three-point attempts, including a 30-footer in the third quarter off this game that helped stop some of the bleeding by the team at that time. And yes, the Hawks won! This break their six-game losing streak, though they have still lost 14 of their last 16. That said, it will be good for the team to return home from the roadtrip off of a win.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: In his first game back in Utah, Millsap played extremely well, putting up 23 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Paul had spent his first seven seasons in Utah, so this was definitely a game that he likely had circled on his calendar from day one. Another thing of note: the Hawks’ defense when Paul Millsap isn’t on the floor… not so great. 8/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff’s stats are a little misleading; yes, he did get to the line nine times, making seven of them, but six of those attempts came in the fourth quarter when Utah was playing the foul game. And for good measure, Jeff even missed two of those six to give Utah a little hope at the end. For the record, Trey Burke made a three as time expired, so the game was really 112-107, but it still shouldn’t have been this close. Jeff needs to be more aggressive on both sides of the floor, as the defensive troubles that have been giving the Hawks fits lately all start with him. 5/10

Pero Antic: Add Derrick Favors to the list of players that Pero has tricked with his pump-fake, as Pero took advantage of Favors at least three or four times. Pero did have 12 points on eight shots, but he was also a bit of a problem on the defensive side of the ball; Pero can play well in one-on-one situations, but he can also get lost a lot when the opposing team has the momentum and is forcing a lot of rotations from the defense. 6.5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Like Paul, this was also DeMarre’s first trip back to his former stomping grounds. He hit three triples for the game, showing off his improved shooting stroke to his old team. DeMarre’s night was pretty much in line with his season averages: 11 points and six boards, but he added four dimes for good measure. 8/10

Kyle Korver: And finally, the last former Jazz player that is now on the Hawks. Korver had a game-high 26 points, with that number coming off of only 12 shot attempts. Simply put, Korver was the team’s offense for the night; whenever the team needed a bucket, Korver went and got it, which is somewhat strange, as Korver isn’t usually the game that actually GOES to get buckets. 9/10 Continue Reading…

RECAP: Hawks 118, Jazz 85

Bo Churney —  December 21, 2013


   UTA(7-22) 85 – 118 (15-12)ATL

Key Performers:
L. Williams (ATL): 25 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 4 stl
E. Kanter (UTA): 13 pts, 13 reb, 2 blk

The Hawks are now three games over .500… I REPEAT, THE HAWKS ARE NOW THREE GAMES OVER .500! WOOO, THREE-SEED, HERE WE COME!!!

*looks at standings* Oh, we’re only four games ahead of the ninth place team in the East… still, possible three-seed!

ANYWAYS, the Hawks won tonight and they did it with a very consistent effort on both ends of the floor. Al Horford had 23 points in 23 minutes, which included a balanced set of inside buckets and mid-range jumpers. Paul Millsap, in his first game against his former team, had a quiet double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Because of the blowout, every active Hawks player got into the game and scored at least one bucket. Continue Reading…

The Hawks enter Friday’s game against the Jazz with an opportunity to get three games over .500.

While that may not sound significant, consider this: three games over .500 would give the Hawks a considerable cushion in the largely dreadful Eastern Conference. Expanding on that, five of the Hawks’ next six games — including the Jazz game — are against teams that are currently under .500. Three of those teams (Orlando, Cleveland, and Utah) have a winning percentage that is under .400. Four of these games, however, are on the road.

With all of that said, the Hawks have a good chance to cushion their hold on the third seed in the East with a relatively easy schedule to close out the 2013 calendar year. That all starts tonight against the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz are the second worst team in the NBA by record (7-21) and third worst by per game point differential (-8.4). The Jazz’s biggest weakness is their defense, where they are currently last in the NBA by allowing over 110 points per 100 possessions. (per Basketball-Reference) Continue Reading…

HH Team Preview: Utah Jazz

Raj Prashad —  October 29, 2013

2012-13 Record: 43-39 (9th in West)z-utah

Playoff Result: N/A

Key Additions: Trey Burke (draft), Rudy Gobert (draft), John Lucas III (free agent), Andris Biedrins (trade), Richard Jefferson (trade), Brandon Rush (trade)

Key Losses: Paul Millsap (free agent), Al Jefferson (free agent), Mo Williams (free agent), DeMarre Carroll (free agent), Randy Foye (trade)

Predicted 2013-14 Record: 28-54 (14th in West)*

What to Expect: After being right on the cusp of the playoffs in 2013, those in charge decided it’s time to go with the young guys starting in 2014.

They’ll be a much different team and will surely have their growing pains in the new season. Gone are not only Millsap, but Jefferson as well from Utah’s frontcourt. Enes Kanter will step in for Jefferson and much like his predecessor, he’s an offensively skilled big man. Unlike Jefferson, he’s got an outside-in game. He can work the midrange, but he also has the touch to work in the post. Kanter also has the size and technique to attack the glass. Derrick Favors also gives the Jazz a different look on both ends of the court. He’s a 22-year-old, 6-10 forward who can run the floor and finish at the rim. He’s also arguably the best defender on the team. Continue Reading…

When the Hawks signed 27 year old DeMarre Carroll, it came with very little noise. Which is fair. His NBA career has certainly been far from a path of stardom. Playing for four different NBA teams in his first three seasons, with a stint in the D-League somewhere in the middle, Carroll was certainly far from a difference maker for a franchise. There was change this past season though, as Carroll finally stuck to one team for the first time since his rookie year. It paid off too. Carroll soon gained the moniker “The Junkyard Dog” and became a maximum effort player seeing time for the Utah Jazz. This led to Atlanta snagging him away at a cool price of $5 million over two years. The question for many Hawks fans is this: what can he deliver?

What will likely be the most important factor to Carroll’s success in Atlanta will be his fit with the other pieces, and on paper, it looks good. Carroll’s weakness on the offensive side of the floor comes in the form of being a weak jumpshooter. DeMarre needs to be surrounded with floor spacers to make up for that, which luckily, the Hawks have plenty. On the defensive end, Carroll was statistically lackluster last year, but was also surrounded in a system defensively in Utah that was void of talent on that end of the floor. (besides Derrick Favors) Continue Reading…