Category Archives: Atlanta Hawks

We couldn’t get over the Wall. Hawks-Wizards (round 1) recap.

Hawks lose!

Season’s over! The Atlanta Hawks lose to the Washington Wizards in six games. The reason is John Wall. While we have often contained him before, Wall simply went off on us throughout this series. I really don’t think the Wizards can go all the way since Boston and Cleveland aren’t teams that lack both depth and a superstar, but you have to be impressed by Wall.

Still, we could have won this series if we could only have been able to hold onto the ball and hit the broad side of a barn. Of course, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Turnovers and bad shooting have been the norm for this team all season long.

Alas, Wall was doing a lot of this yesterday.

The truth is that in March, I would’ve seen this coming a mile away! That was period when these turnovers and missed shots got us blown out of home court by the Nets! But after the last several games when we got the offense going enough to Win over the Celtics, crush the rival Hornets, and twice beat the Cavs. But this surge did not last into the playoffs.

My verdict? This was a rough season. Dwight Howard is not superstar we’ve been looking for, what can we say? And honestly, he’s a downgrade from Al Horford. The fouls and lack of offensive production from him had a lot to do with our problems. So we were eliminated in the first round.

Pretty much.

Sure, it’s a 43-win season, but if you look at the dreadful state of the Eastern Conference (no eastern team with at least 55 wins, while the West has 3 that reached that mark), how much this team fluctuated between good and bad from start to finish, and most importantly, that we couldn’t keep our late momentum going, this may be one time when we are not what our record says we are.

Of course, part of this is the growing pain of a rebuild. We made some trades for future draft picks at the deadline. I mean years into the future. Which is just as well. I can see the team missing the playoffs next season. How much Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince continue to improve will be interesting to me. Otherwise, there’s not much promise for the immediate future.

Unless you count Dwight getting a lot of rebounds but contributing little else.

Further down the road? If we draft well and get Paul Millsap resigned, those picks we traded for could pay off. But there’s a limit to how much faith you can put in a front office that let the Hawks go from great to below average in two years’ time.

No matter what, I am True to Atlanta!

We’re here with momentum after all. Hawks-Wizards (round 1) preview.

Well, now I feel blissfully stupid.

Not long ago, I stated that the Atlanta Hawks had become an awful basketball team that was rebuilding on account of not being a contender yet, but was having a lost season or two as the consequence of that rebuild. We were playing absolutely atrocious basketball! In particular, we actually lost twice to the Nets.

But then something happened: the team turned around in our last five games. First, we beat Boston, which wound up getting the #1 seed in the East. Then we blew the Cavs out of Cleveland despite being banged-up. Then we played them again and overcame a 26-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win again. Then there were lesser opponents in the Hornets. We smashed them! We did lose the last game, but with second-stringers playing because we were already thinking about the playoffs.

This match-up, to be exact.

What happened? First, we stopped turning over the ball with reckless abandon. Second, we starting shooting straight. Dennis Schroder actually seems like a starting point guard now. Third, Dwight Howard hasn’t been committing so many fouls anymore. The last one is a biggie. Without those blunders, it’s a lot easier to see how good he is at getting rebounds and playing defense.

So now we’re hot coming into the playoffs against a division rival. Personally, I hate the Celtics, Heat, and Hornets more, but the Wizards will do. They beat us last time, but we were in the awful stretch I was just talking about. Of course, the Wizards are not last year’s mediocre team. No, they’ve won forty-nine games, thus seem to be one of the few threats to the Cavs’ third straight Eastern Conference title.

Maybe but none of this will be remembered if they don’t win now.

Having said that, we have been beating great teams. The way we’ve been playing, we shouldn’t be counted out of this series.

This series does mean something for both teams. We met the Wizards two years ago in the playoffs and won 4-2. That hasn’t been forgotten by either team. So maybe we got ourselves a rivalry here. True to Atlanta!

Hawks no longer the kings of Georgia sports

For a number of years, the Hawks were unquestionably the best team in the state of Georgia. While the Braves and Falcons were both good in the late 2000s and early 2010s, neither could seem to win in the playoffs. On the collegiate level (although neither are my team, I’ll bring them up), Georgia has made it to the SEC Championship twice and Georgia Tech made it to the ACC Championship once. In all these cases the Georgia-based team failed to advance.

The Hawks, though, have many times made it to the second round in the past decade. We’ve even been to the Eastern Conference Finals. While none of those seasons resulted in a NBA Championship, they were a great time to be a Hawks fan. And it wasn’t as though we were more than a piece or two away. But those days seem to be over.

Maybe they were over the moment Al Horford put on a Celtics jersey.

The Falcons just made it to the Super Bowl and just upgraded their defensive line with the addition of Dontari Poe. Many believe that the Braves will be good again in the not too distant future because of one of the best farm systems in MLB. With expected upgrades to Georgia’s roster and GA. Tech having finished well above .500 for two of their last three seasons, they may be on the rise.

The Hawks? They look awful. Our shooting efficiency and ball security have been jokes all season long! We can’t hit the broad side of barn and never lock the door to the ball as one of our players dribbles it. For awhile, we played well by shutting down opposing offenses. But now they’ve figured out our greatest weakness: the 3-point line. This was a problem last season, particularly during Cleveland’s second round sweep of us, but now everyone and their mother is doing it.

I have nightmares. They have this scene in them.

As a result, this team is 5-10 since the All-Star Break. If there are any critical adjustments to be made, they haven’t been made yet; we’ve lost 5 straight. We’re currently clinging to a playoff seed for dear life. At least we don’t have much time to blow it. Not that it really matters. They’re ain’t no other playoff team we can beat at our current level of play. Call me a bad fan if you want. At some point you’ve got to admit that your team is melting down at the worst time.

What’s gone wrong? It’s no real mystery. Demarre Carroll is in Toronto. Al Horford is in Boston. Jeff Teague is in Indiana. Kyle Korver is in Cleveland. Three of these four teams have high seeds as of now.

Taurean Prince is a young forward who’s showing flashes of greatness but isn’t there just yet. Dennis Schroder, though, has pretty much confirmed that he’s not the guy you want as your starting point guard. Then there’s Dwight Howard. While this master of rebounds is definitely our second best player, his lackluster offensive play and tendency to commit fouls probably mean that he’s a net downgrade from Horford.

I’m really starting to get infuriated from seeing Dwight grin after he commits a foul.

This team is in something of a rebuild. We did some trading that got us some future draft picks. That means that this season and probably next season are looking to be disappointments. We just don’t have the talent right now.

And if the draft picks don’t pan out, things will not be getting better for some time for the Hawks.

Are the Hawks right to blow it up?

hawksblowinguptitleYeah, it’s been awhile since I blogged about any other team but the Falcons and Alabama’s football program, but there’s recent Hawks news that is too big for me to not weigh in. Kyle Korver has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for… a first round draft pick. A new report says that there are no immediate plans to trade Paul Millsap after all. But that doesn’t mean we won’t after the season. In fact, we probably will.

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So long and good luck. Except when playing us (not that the Cavs usually need it anyway).

The evidence is mounting: we’re rebuilding.

Is this the right decision? Many of the fans don’t seem to think so. Some Hawks fans who I follow on Twitter say that this is mistake. We’re #4 in the East they say. Surely #4 can’t be too much worse than Cleveland and Golden State, right? Well, if you operate under the assumption both conferences in the NBA are equal, one would conclude that this contrary argument is correct.

But the conferences are not equal. As of this posting, there are three Western Conference teams with better records than mighty Cleveland. The East also houses the worst team in the NBA: the Nets. The West is superior, plain and simple. We’re just barely a top ten team right now. And that doesn’t bode well for us in the postseason.

How did we get here from 60 wins two seasons ago? The answer lies in how our offensive play has diminished. After the loss of DeMarre Carroll to Toronto, we weren’t the offensive powerhouse in 2015-2016 that we had been the season before. While our rebounding and perhaps defense have improved, our offense has turned to shit. We turn the ball over with reckless abandon and shoot like movie henchmen, never able to hit broad side of a basket!

Our rather emotive coach has been doing this a lot over the turnovers and bad shots. Me too.

Our rather emotive coach has been doing this a lot over the turnovers and bad shots. Me too.

So yeah, I lean towards rebuilding. It’s true that this team won in Cleveland and Toronto. We also got curb-stomped by the Knicks and Pelicans. In fact, we are blown out a lot! This inconsistency points irresistibly to a team that’s not ready for the big time. We may be on a hot streak now, but we’re still looking like shit on offense. This is not a team that can win it all. Unless we make some changes. Even if those changes require short-term sacrifice.

Sure, we can continue to have good seasons before getting sucked into the black hole that is Cleveland. Or we can develop superstars. It may take time, but it’s obvious at this point that the free agents we need don’t want to come here. No, the draft is the way to go. We won’t make it any other way.

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What Captain Obvious Blogger is saying is that we need to get a superstar by any means necessary. Everbody and their uncle can’t be wrong.

Meanwhile Millsap and especially Korver are both getting older anyway. The time to move will come. Don’t be so afraid to become the 6ers by choice that eventually do so by accident.

And I guess that’s it. The National Championship will be on soon. Expect a recap of it tomorrow. True to Atlanta!

Hawks get statement win over Cavaliers

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland CavaliersI did not watch the election results on TV. It’s something you can check out online. Instead, I watched the Hawks go to Cleveland to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I had this marked down as a loss that we had to get back. It’s the sort of game that you can lose and nobody would hold it against you if you don’t get blown out. Haters might, but nobody should give a shit about them anyway. So my benchmark was, “lose, but make it competitive.”

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 8: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks handles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 8, 2016 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Says who?”

Well, it turns out that despite playing against the defending NBA Champions and a home crowd that is still ecstatic over that, we got the win. Snapping an 11-game losing streak to this team alone makes this a big win, but now there’s the possibility that this Hawks team is better than anyone gave it credit for.

How did we win this time? Well, the rebounding wizardry of new center Dwight Howard is reaping huge dividends. Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder (28 points) is proving to be a more consistent point guard than Jeff Teague ever was. So turnovers aside, we managed to score a lot of points on the Cavs despite no Kyle Korver.

What to do when you can't stop Howard from snagging the ball. Oh, wait, there's the whistle.

What to do when you can’t stop Howard from snagging the ball. Oh wait, there’s the whistle.

Of course, the ultimate goal of any team that faces the Cavs, especially in Cleveland, is to either stop LeBron James or outscore him. Since we’ve been a defense-first team since the loss of DeMarre Carroll to Toronto two offseasons ago, only the former is realistic. Lebron’s high-scoring games on us was where Cleveland was destroying us, but all those games were before we got Howard. Another thing Howard has added to this team is that he’s an excellent defensive center, something Al Horford never was. As a result, we totally shut LeBron down in the first half. Without him making things happen, the Cavs had downright pathetic shooting efficiency.

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I don’t hate LeBron like some others do and actually cheered him on in the Finals, but his expressions of shock and frustration were still priceless!

So a few minutes into the third quarter, we built an 18-point lead because they couldn’t get any offense going. But I knew it couldn’t be that easy. LeBron doesn’t give up. Anyone who watched the Finals knows this. Sure enough, he finally started putting points on the board, though he would end up the game’s #5 scorer when it was all said and done. Still, the deficit was cut to 5 with a quarter to go.

But the comeback ended then and there. We started scoring points again. There were brief moments when the score was close, but Cleveland never lead in that quarter. Final score: 110-106.

Lot of basketball to play. We still have to play the Cavaliers twice more (but on our turf), and chances are, we meet them in the third consecutive postseason. And these are hardly the only tough games ahead of us. But if you you can win in Cleveland, you can beat anybody. True to Atlanta!

How high will Dwight fly as a Hawk? Hawks season preview.

atlhawksIn the 2014-2015 season, the Atlanta Hawks were swept in the NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers because Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap were playing hurt. No more, no less. The 2015-2016 playoffs were a different story. We had won 48 games, but against teams that finished with at least 45 wins, we only won something like 40% of the time. The ’14-’15 Hawks? Great record against top-tier teams. For example, they were .500 against Golden State and 2-1 against Cleveland (again, I am talking regular season). So unlike many fans, I frankly wasn’t surprised or even disappointed that the Cavaliers swept us again last Spring. We had demonstrated an utter inability to beat true Finals contenders.

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So yeah, we weren’t really contending.

Our problem wasn’t defensive play; in fact, our guys were elite in this area. Offense was another matter. I watched many games in which we could maneuver underneath the basket, forcing us to shoot from a distance too much. And when we missed, we struggled at recovering rebounds as well.

Basically, we were the Houston Texans of the NBA; a great defensive team but not able to do all that much with the ball. We weren’t starved for points, but remember that basketball is a turnover-rich game in which there can be lots of points scored virtually on defense. Thing is, LeBron James is unstoppable. To beat him, you have to score a lot with no help from the opposition. And we were not the team to do that.

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Defense always wins championships? I beg to differ.

So the folks at Atlanta made some moves. Al Horford is out. He’s been replaced by Dwight Howard. He has won Defensive Player of the Year three times. More importantly, he has skill at rebounding that cleans up a need.

But can he be any better a playmaker than the guy he’s replacing? Many believe he’s a downgrade if anything. More than anything, his performances will determine this season. True to Atlanta!