Hawks Season In Review: Elton Brand

Monday, May 12, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Season In Review: Elton Brand

Note:  We use stats per 36 minutes instead of stats per game on the graphics.  The reason behind that is stats per 36 tell a more complete story of how a player did while he was on the court, as opposed to per game stats which averages a player’s stats based on the number of games that player appeared in, regardless of how many minutes he played.  The per 36 minutes compares all players equally by taking the minutes played out of the equation to measure the most effective players during their time on the court.

The Hawks brought Elton Brand in this season hoping he would provide a veteran presence in the locker room and a scoring option/defensive presence off the bench when needed, and Brand gave them that and more this season, posting 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on 53.9 percent shooting from the field.

Brand’s role with the Hawks changed dramatically throughout the season, going from DNP’s early in the year to being a starter when the Hawks’ frontcourt was decimated by injuries. Through it all, Brand was a consummate professional on and off the court, and when they needed him to play a big role he delivered.

In the month of February, in the Hawks’ 12 games, Brand averaged 8.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game in 28.1 minutes — including back-to-back 40+ minute performances late in the month. Brand stepped up into a larger role and exceeded expectations, providing an offensive spark thanks to his sweet touch from the mid-range and he was the Hawks best rim protector, turning away the opposition thanks to his great timing and length. He led the Hawks in blocks on the season with 88 and his 1.2 per game was second to Al Horford.

Brand was a terrific fit for Coach Bud’s offense, as he set terrific screens and was extremely reliable in the mid-range, shooting 49.6 percent on 135 mid-range attempts.

Brand was rarely one of the first options on offense, and received very few post-up touches — 36 touches on the season in the post — but made the most of his opportunities in the pick-and-roll/pop game. 28 percent of Brand’s offensive touches this season — touches that resulted in a shot, foul, or turnover — were as the roll-man, and another 12.8 percent came on spot-ups. He shot exactly 50 percent in those two situations — 80-of-160 — which was crucial in providing spacing for the Hawks’ second unit. The rest of his touches came mostly on off-ball cuts — 26.7 percent — where he was effective, often cutting off the weakside baseline, shooting 52.6 percent.
Elton certainly proved this year that he still has plenty to offer on and off the court, even after 15 seasons. He is still unsure of his future, saying at exit interviews that he would have to discuss his options with his family before he makes a decision whether to retire or come back to the NBA for another season.
Photo Gallery: Elton Brand

Bruce Levenson Speaks Out On Donald Sterling Matter

Friday, May 9, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

Atlanta Hawks Majority Owner Bruce Levenson recently spoke to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged comments.  You can watch the full interview above.

Hawks Season Review: Top 5 Games of 2013-14

Friday, May 9, 2014
By Robby Kalland

The Hawks were no strangers to close games this season, with 30 of their 82 games decided by 5 or fewer points, and also had some dominating performances sprinkled in along the way, so choosing the Top 5 games of this season was a difficult task. These are my personal choices, but these were the five games that stick out the most to me when I think back on this past season.

5. Jan. 3, 2014 – Golden State Warriors 101, Atlanta Hawks 100

I know, the Hawks lost, but this was without a doubt one of the most exciting games of the season. For the Hawks, it ended in heartbreak as Andre Iguodala made a deep three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer to give the Warriors a one-point win. The Hawks led by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter, but Steph Curry got hot in the to lead the Warriors’ comeback. Despite the end result, this was the fourth game that the Hawks played without Al Horford, and it showed that they were still going to be extremely competitive against the top teams in the NBA with Pero Antic in the lineup — Pero had 16 in this game including four three-pointers.

4. Dec. 26, 2013 – Atlanta Hawks 127, Cleveland Cavaliers 125 (2OT)

This game was memorable for a number of reasons, most of them good, and then one exceptionally unfortunate. The dual between Jeff Teague and Kyrie Irving was incredible, as Teague went for 34 points and 14 assists, while Irving dropped 40 points and nine assists. Horford was exceptional for the first three-plus quarters with 25 points and eight rebounds, but this was also the game that he tore his right pectoral muscle. The Hawks would go on to win in double-overtime, fighting back from a five-point deficit late thanks to some clutch shooting by Kyle Korver

3.  April 24, 2014 – Atlanta Hawks 98, Indiana Pacers 85

After splitting the first two games in Indiana, the Hawks came back to Philips Arena and put on a great show for the home fans. The arena was as loud in support of the Hawks as it has ever been, and the team responded with a great 13-point victory. The Hawks shot the ball terribly in the first half, but got it going in the second half as they pulled away to take a 2-1 series lead. Korver and DeMarre Carroll combined for 38 points on 12-of-17 shooting and Korver drained four threes in the second half. Jeff Teague was exceptional down the stretch and finished with 22 points and 10 assists, including the incredible fading three as the shot-clock expired in the fourth quarter. The Hawks would not win again in their final two games at Philips Arena, but for that night Atlanta was treated to a tremendous performance by the Hawks.

2. December 28, 2013 – Atlanta Hawks 118, Charlotte Bobcats 116 (OT)

This was the Hawks first game without Horford, and Paul Millsap immediately showed that he would be able to handle a bigger workload. Millsap had 33 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting and was a dominant force. Lou Williams had 28 points in his best game of the season, and, of course, there was the Antic one-footed three-pointer that sent the game to overtime — his only made basket of the game. This game was the most memorable regular-season game of the year for me, because it featured dominant performances and one of the most incredible moments of the regular season in Antic’s three.

1. April 28, 2014 – Atlanta Hawks 107, Indiana Pacers 97

The second quarter of Game 5 of the Hawks first round series with the Pacers was quite possibly the most incredible individual quarter I can remember watching. Mike Scott caught fire, making five three-pointers, on his way to a 17 point second quarter. Shelvin Mack came off the bench as well for 13 points as the Hawks dominated the Pacers 41-19 in that quarter — detailed here. The Hawks went on to win the game by 10, as the Pacers fought back from down as many as 30 to make it somewhat close in the fourth, but that second quarter performance was without a doubt the most memorable thing from this season for me.

Hawks See 2013-14 as Foundation to Build Future On

Thursday, May 8, 2014
By Robby Kalland

There was an air of optimism around exit interviews this week at Philips Arena. After an up-and-down season that ended with a loss to the Pacers in Game 7 of their first round series, the Hawks were in good spirits, knowing that a foundation had been laid for the future — a future they believe will be very bright.

After seven consecutive playoff appearances, the Hawks’ next challenge is building not just a playoff contender, but a roster and culture capable of competing for championships. After the 2012-13 season, the Hawks made drastic changes throughout the organization, bringing in Mike Budenholzer as head coach, adding new assistants, and bringing a number of new players to training camp. General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry wanted to change the culture of the Hawks’ organization on and off the court, and this season they feel they took a step in the right direction.

“Almost a year ago, sitting with Bud in front of you guys we talked about having a system based way of playing, having competitors, and playing unselfishly,” Ferry said on Wednesday morning. ” I think that foundation has been laid this year. We were one of the leaders in assists all year. I think if you watched our team play, there was a substance to how our guys played. They competed night in and night out. And from a system-based way of playing, we’ve evolved over the last couple years, and here at the end of the year you could read and play out of sets to do things that I think put us in the best way of playing that put us in the best position as a basketball team in the regular season and the playoffs.”

In Ferry’s mind, it started with the coaching staff laying the groundwork, and the results he saw this season pleased him.

“I very much believe…in a system based way of playing,” Ferry said. “On top of that, the level of communication, the level of work that our staff put in this year to make that happen. Player development is very important to us. The time and effort our coaches put in to that and helping DeMarre, who talked about Quin yesterday, and Jeff and the work that Kenny Atkinson does, Taylor , all of our guys do. Player development is a very important component of this organization and will continue to be so, so I feel great about the job our staff did.”

Struggling with injuries all season — most notably Al Horford‘s torn pectoral — the Hawks had to play a number of players more minutes than initially anticipated. The job done by these players — young and old — stepping into large roles and playing them capably was certainly one of the biggest positives from this season as a number of players had career years. The entire roster did well to stay ready for their opportunities, and the coaching staff did a great job of developing the guys and preparing them for those moments.

The attention given to players by the staff was something many pointed out in their exit interviews. The point guards all mentioned the job of Kenny Atkinson — the longest tenured coach on the Hawks staff at two years — and his help in developing their games, and DeMarre Carroll laid praise on Quin Snyder for helping him become a much improved shooter this season.

“This was like the first year, you know I have to give a shoutout to Coach Quin Snyder, because this was the first year a coach really worked with me on my footwork, my shot, and spent time with me,” Carroll said. “Credit to Coach Quin, ’cause that shows me that he cares about me as a person and cares about my career. I think I’m headed in the right direction. I feel like I’m a rookie. Finally got to play and did what I did. Think there’s a lot of room to get better and improve.”

Along with the development of the players, there were plenty of compliments paid to the system that Coach Bud installed. As Ferry said, he wanted to see a system-based style of play, and Coach Bud installed his system confidently and successfully in his first season. Bud’s system, predicated on pace, space, and ball movement, was well-received by the players, who enjoyed playing a more open style of basketball.

“He did a great job. He’s learning on the job like everyone else is,” Shelvin Mack said. ”He did a fantastic job of putting us in a position of being successful, and have a positive output on the game. He understands it. He’s been through it. He shared the experience of losing last year in the Finals, and it’s easy to relate to someone that’s been there and done it.”

“Coaching staff for their first year was wonderful, like, a joy to play for,” Jeff Teague said. ”Playing with this group of guys, man, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Getting Al back healthy and with the guys we have, we have a really good group. We gel together and we enjoy playing with each other, so I’m excited for next year. It’s fun basketball. I think everyone’s excited to watch us play, and I think everyone on the team is excited playing. When you’re playing like that unselfishly and sharing the basketball and just having fun, it’s easy to play for a guy like him. He’s a great guy. He’s very personable. He’s funny. He’s emotional, he’s everything, so he’s like a perfect coach.”

“I love the way we play; spacing and pace and unselfishness on the offensive end,” Ferry said. “Defensively, just the activity and the consistent plan that we put out there every night. We have corporate knowledge going forward. Next year’s camp won’t be ‘this word means this’ and ‘we’re going to do 3-man weave this way,’ it’s going to be, we’re going to come in running, and that will again bode well for us going forward.”

With the system in place, the next step for the Hawks on the court is to build on that foundation and become a more consistent team on both ends of the floor. The Hawks showed glimpses of excellent play on offense and defense this year, but, as can be expected with so much lineup fluctuation, they struggled to maintain a level of play from game to game.

“I think there were a lot of good things ,” Coach Bud said. ”I think the players have a really good feel for the vision of what we want to do defensively and offensively. Now it’s just taking that to another level and building on it. Foundation’s the word we want to use, and a lot has been laid down in a very positive way, and there’s still a lot to be done.”

“We laid the foundation,” Carroll said. “We want to be the most aggressive team in the NBA next year. We want to bring it, physically and mentally. Whenever we step on the court we want to be the most blue-collar team.”

“I think we laid a decent foundation for how we’re going to play and what we’re going to be like, and I think it’s a really fun style of basketball to play and watch, all of it,” Kyle Korver said. ”I think the next level for us is we have to learn how to win. We have to take those last couple minutes and say, this is how we win games. This is who’s on the floor. These are the plays we run. These are the looks we’re going to get. These are the shots we need you to make, the stops we need you to get. Let’s go out there and do it. I think, like, we had that…almost. So, we’ll keep on getting better, we’ll learn from our mistakes, and we’ll keep building on the good things from this year.”

Along with building an on-court system and culture, the Hawks also wanted to create a better atmosphere off the court for the players and staff. Ferry and Budenholzer preached character and wanting to bring in players that would get along, and in that regard this season was a great success.

“It was just fun, I wanted to play everyday,” Teague said. “I wanted to come to practice everyday, I enjoyed it. There wasn’t like a dull moment. Everything was fun. Everything was exciting. I mean, we did stuff outside of basketball that was really fun like play baseball at the Braves stadium and stuff like that, and I had never done anything like that in my previous years, so that was fun.”

Part of building that culture is building the fanbase and the excitement about the team in the city. The three playoff games at home were testaments to how successful the team can be in galvanizing the city and gaining their support. Atlanta packed Philips Arena for those three games, and the players and organization took notice and want to build off of that success.

“The playoffs were good for us on many levels,” Ferry said. “I think Jeff and Paul and Bud and everyone really kind of going through that, stepping up, showing they can be competitive in that kind of environment. I think it was also great for us because the community here in Atlanta really rallied around what we were doing. I think they enjoyed the substance of how we were playing and our guys and that’s something we want to build on as well.”
“I think, when I look back on the series, I’m the most bummed about Game 6 because we had the crowd and the atmosphere that we’d been dreaming about,” Korver said. “That’s one of the reasons I came back here was we wanted to help build something like that, and to have that and have the game that we wanted and then to lose, that’s eating at me today. Hopefully next year, we’ll have those same atmospheres and we can close out games better and we can all be happier…You see what’s possible in every way; with this team, this city, this crowd, everything. You see what’s possible. I think it takes time to build some traction with a city, and it starts with us. We have to put a product out there that fans want to support and watch and get behind and want to support and cheer for.”
With a core group in place that seem to fit the on and off-court style the Hawks desire and 10 players under contract for next season, this offseason will be about adding pieces rather than reconstructing the roster.

“I like our group, I liked our group all year because they were really good to be around; professional and I liked our players” Ferry said. “We still need to add to what we’re doing. I think we built a depth to how we play, and now let’s build a depth to our roster. Some of that is going to be internal with guys stepping into bigger roles, but some of that can be external. We have the draft in front of us. We have trade possibilities that will come across that we’ll have to look at, and we’ll have opportunities in free agency that we’ll look at as well. We absolutely can continue to add to what we’re doing. Every team is going to want to add more size, more length, more athleticism, more shooting, and we’re in line with that. What’s nice with establishing how we’re going to play, is you can define more easily what fits for you and for our group. So we’ll try to find guys that fit how we want to play and how we want to work everyday.”

From day one, Ferry has preached process and taking steps to build a program. After a major overhaul last season, the Hawks appear to be happy with their first step towards building that organizational structure and culture. They have a coach and GM that work well together and share the same principles on what they want to do, the on-court system is in place, and they seem to have found a number of players that they like and that fit into that mold on and off the court. This offseason it’s all about taking the next step and building on top of what they achieved in 2013-14 by further developing the players already here and also adding pieces to that group.

As Korver said, “I think we’re in a great spot. I think it’s an exciting time to be a Hawk. I think it’s an exciting time to be a Hawk fan. I think we’re on the way up.”

The Hawks’ Season Was Really Quite Remarkable

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

When you actually think about it, what the Atlanta Hawks did in 2013-14 was pretty spectacular.

With a rookie head coach, a roster full of players who, for the most part, had never played together, and a slew of injuries, they were still able to make the playoffs.  They pushed the East’s best team to a seventh game without their best player and made believers out of fans across the city and country in the process.

In the Hawks’ case, the standings don’t tell the whole story.  Let’s start with the roster they had: a bunch of makeshift pieces put into expanded roles for the first time in their respective careers.

Paul Millsap had been a regular starter for a few years in Utah but had never been asked to carry a team the way he did these Hawks.  He responded by averaging career highs in points, assists and three-pointers, and although the shooting percentage was down a bit, he flourished in Coach Bud’s system because if the work he put in to increase his range.

Jeff Teague built upon his breakout season last year with another stellar year.  He once again notched a career-high in points, something he’s done every season since he’s been in the league, and he also grabbed a career-high 2.6 rebounds.  It’s clear that he’s molding into an elite young point guard, and though he knows he has work to do, this season was another step in that evolution.  Let’s also not forget that he lost pick & pop specialist Al Horford after 29 games, which reduced his productivity as a passing point guard.

Bud’s offense is predicated on pace and space, and perhaps no one in the NBA helps provide the latter better than Kyle Korver.  Eleven season into his NBA career, Korver started more games and played more minutes than he ever has before.  His 12 PPG were the second most of his career, and he had a career-high 2.9 assists.  More important than any stats however was Korver’s presence on the floor.  He helped create space for guards to drive, wings to cut and bigs to play pick & roll.  Even when he didn’t touch the ball, he was still impacting the game because of his ability to draw defenders away.  The Hawks were better as a team in every statistical category with him out there, and they missed his presence during a stretch where they lost five straight games in March when he was dealing with a back injury.

General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry went out and got pieces to fit Coach Bud’s system, and pretty much every move he made was gold.  In addition to the obvious hit with Millsap, he brought DeMarre Carroll in as a defensive anchor.  Carroll’s addition gave Coach Bud a reliable wing defender to put on the opposing team’s best guard or wing player.  Carroll delivered in helping contain some of Atlanta’s toughest individual opponents, but what he did on the offensive side was also a pleasant surprise.  He started all 73 games he played, netting career-highs in points, assists, rebounds and shooting percentage.

Off the bench, Mike Scott careered in his second year, Shelvin Mack played well in his first significant NBA role, Elton Brand showed that he’s still plenty valuable and Pero Antic made the adjustment from overseas to give the Hawks a unique tool.

Horford’s injury was heartbreaking and deflating, but it wasn’t a dagger as most thought it would be.  When John Jenkins and Gustavo Ayon went down for the year as well, it seemed to be a downward spiral.  When Antic, Teague, Millsap, Korver and Carroll followed with subsequent missed time of their own, things looked extremely bleak.  Yet somehow, the Hawks rallied around the players they had, but enough wins together to stay competitive in the East and snuck into the playoffs while getting healthy bodies back just in time.

The series against Indiana, came as a surprise to anyone who simply looked at the Hawks’ record but wasn’t a shock at all to the ones who had been following the team closely all year.  Few teams are able to survive what the Hawks survived this season, and the result is a fan base as excited as its been in a long time and a foundation for the future under Coach Bud.  More on that last part coming Thursday from Robby Kalland.

Hawks Players Thank Fans In Tweets

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

There’s no doubt Hawks players were bummed after a tough Game 7 loss to the Pacers in the playoffs, but they took time to thank fans for their support all season via Twitter:

And one from the team account:

10 Memorable Moments From the Hawks vs. Pacers Series

Sunday, May 4, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
10 Memorable Moments From the Hawks vs. Pacers Series

The series didn’t end the way the Atlanta Hawks wanted it to, but there were many memorable moments along the way against the Pacers.  We put together 10 of our favorites:

10)  Korver’s Deep Three

The Pacers made a furious second half rally in Game 5 to cut what was a 30-point deficit down to just nine with four minutes remaining in the game.  Kyle Korver caught the ball on the right wing several feet behind the three-point line and launched it.  The make silenced the Indiana crowd and subdued the rally.  The Hawks eventually won by 10.  WATCH HERE

9)  Teague’s Crossover

One of many Hawks highlights in the series opener was Jeff Teague putting Evan Turner on skates during the third quarter of Game 1.  Teague drove right, then crossed over as he stepped back behind the three-point line to drill the shot during a 30-16 quarter for the Hawks.  WATCH HERE

8)  Korver Blocks Hibbert…Three Times

Korver had a terrific shooting series, but one of the big storylines of the first two games in Indiana was his blocks on Roy Hibbert.  The 6’7″ shooting guard blocked the 7’2″ center twice in Game 1 and again in Game 2, much to the displeasure of the Pacers fans. WATCH: #1 | #2 | #3

 

7)  Pero Antic vs. David West

An early scuffle between Pero Antic and David West in Game 1 turned out to be nothing more than just words, but it set the tone for the series that Atlanta wasn’t going to back down.  WATCH HERE

6)  Hawks Take Game 1

Though much of the talk afterwards focused on what was wrong with the Pacers, the Hawks certainly made a statement by throwing the first punch in a decisive Game 1 victory in which they led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.  Teague scored 28 points and forced Frank Vogel to use Paul George on him for the rest of the series.  HIGHLIGHTS

5)  Second Quarter of Game 5

The Game 5 win in Indiana may have been even sweeter than the Game 1 victory, but one thing we know for sure is that the second quarter of that fifth game was something special.  Mike Scott hit five three-pointers, including four on four consecutive possessions en route to a 17-point quarter.  Shelvin Mack came off the bench to contribute a team-high 20 points, 13 of which came during a second quarter that the Hawks won 41-19. HIGHLIGHTS

4)  Scott’s Thunderous Dunk

Down seven in the third quarter of Game 6 and in need of a jolt, Scott came off the bench and delivered in the third quarter, cutting down the lane for a thunderous dunk on Ian Mahinmi that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  Most fans stood the rest of the game as the Hawks used that dunk to rally.  WATCH HERE

3)  Teague’s Amazing Three

Perhaps the shot of the NBA Playoffs so far, Teague effectively put Game 3 on ice with a wild shot clock buzzer beater late in the fourth quarter.  He threw it up with his momentum going the wrong way, then gave a little shrug afterwards.  WATCH HERE

2)  Pac Is Back

The Hawks gave fans a sneak peek of their new secondary logo prior to Game 6, an evolution of the old logo used for 23 years.  Every fan at the game got a shirt, and fans also have a chance to sign up to get merchandise when the logo is officially launched this summer. LEARN MORE HERE

1)  Fans

Unbelievable.  That’s just one of many words that can be used to sum up the fan support the Hawks got during their three home games.  Game 3 was great, Game 4 was crazy and Game 6 was downright insane, with fans standing for the final 18 minutes of the action. TEAGUE ON FANS | KORVER ON FANS

Photo Credits – 10: Andy Lyons, 9: Jesse D. Garrabrant, 8: Ron Hoskins, 7: Andy Lyons, 6: Jesse D. Garrabrant, 5: Gary Dineen, 4: Gary Dineen, 3: Scott Cunningham, 1: Scott Cunningham

Hawks Go Cold as Pacers Win Game 7, Series

Saturday, May 3, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Go Cold as Pacers Win Game 7, Series

The Hawks (3-4) went cold at the wrong time and were eliminated by the Pacers (4-3) in Game 7 as Atlanta shot just 30.4 percent from the field in the 92-80 loss. Paul George was magnificent for Indiana with 30 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two steals as he set the tone for the offense. Lance Stephenson – 19 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists — and Roy Hibbert — 13 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks — also had big nights in the Pacers’ series-clinching victory.

Hawks vs. Pacers

Photo Gallery

Stats

Highlights

The Hawks 30.4 percent shooting from the field was the third worst shooting performance in a Game 7 in NBA history (per ESPN Stats & Info). The Hawks were just never able to get anything going after a good start where they lead by as many as six in the first quarter. They tried to use the three-point shot to climb back in the game — shooting 11-for-44 — and got to within eight in the fourth quarter, but didn’t string together enough makes to really threaten the Pacers’ lead.

The Pacers’ offense did an excellent job getting to the rim and were also able to convert on a number of mid-range jumpers — particularly George. 35.7 percent of the Pacers’ shot attempts came from within eight-feet of the rim (68% shooting), and 38.7 percent of their attempts from the mid-range (48.1%). George was 8-for-11 from the mid-range as he really got his offensive game rolling.

The second quarter — the quarter that won Game 5 for Atlanta– betrayed them tonight, as the Hawks shot 4-for-20 from the floor (1-of-15 to close the quarter) and the Pacers shot 62.5 percent from the field as they pulled away by 11 at the half. Atlanta’s offense went stagnant and even when they did get an open look their shooters were ice cold.

The Hawks, as they did all season, were resilient in the second half, refusing to lay down as they continually fought back after each Indiana run. Unfortunately, the Pacers had just too much for the Hawks in this game, and Atlanta was never able to truly threaten the Indiana lead in the second half.

Indiana looked the part of the number one seed in the East on this night thanks to the continued good play of George and David West, while Hibbert showed some life on offense for the first time all series and they got a more consistent performance from Stephenson. The Pacers, who had the top-ranked defense in the NBA all season, were in great form and turned the Hawks away at the rim consistently with 13 blocked shots — six from West and five from Hibbert.

For the Hawks, Paul Millsap put forth a great effort with 15 points and 17 rebounds (10 offensive), but like the rest of the team, struggled shooting the ball going 6-for-21 from the field and was held to two points without a made field goal in the first half. Jeff Teague had 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals and showed flashes of great play. The Pacers made the adjustment to be more aggressive on Teague on pick-and-roll defense to keep him out of the paint, and because of the struggles by the Hawks’ bigs to shoot from three, they could help on Teague for longer without worrying about recovering on the popping big man.

Kyle Korver did what he has all season, scoring a team-high 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from three-point range with three rebounds. Korver gave the Hawks life with the three-point ball, but the rest of the team was just 6-of-34 from beyond the arc. Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott each had three made threes off the bench (18 combined attempts) and combined for 28 points. The two gave the Hawks a boost off the bench in the third quarter, and were a big part of the Hawks cutting the deficit to just eight heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hawks now enter the offseason, but there is plenty to be excited about for the future as the draft and free agency approach, Al Horford continues his rehab from injury, and the rest of the team continues to develop under Coach Budenholzer and the rest of the coaching staff.

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Game 7 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

Friday, May 2, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Game 7 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

Two of the greatest words in sports: Game Seven.

The Hawks and Pacers find themselves there after an intense and grueling Game 6 in which Indiana prevailed behind strong defense and timely fourth quarter buckets.  Now we play one last time for the right to face the Washington Wizards in round two.

At this point, don’t look for either team to make many, if any, adjustments.  Both teams know what it takes to beat the other, as each team has done it three times in two weeks.  For the Hawks defensively, taking away driving lanes and avoiding unnecessary double teams should lead to success.  Atlanta needs to force the Pacers into contested jump shots off the dribble and keep them away from the free throw line.

Offensively, the Hawks need to attack the paint more and get better ball movement.  The second part will lead to the first part taking care of itself, but late in the fourth quarter of Games 4, 5 and 6, neither was happening.  It all starts with Jeff Teague’s aggressive play, but others need to be getting themselves into scoring or driving position when he has the ball.  More cuts and better screens will help, as well as better shooting.  The Hawks shot just 36 percent from the field, something that has become a theme for them in the series outside of Game 5.

It’s a tall order for the Hawks now, as they missed a golden opportunity to put the series away in front of their own fans.  Only 23 of the 114 Game 7s have been won by the road team, so Atlanta has the deck stacked against them.  They have, however, won three of the past four games played at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, and all three in convincing fashion.  Something tells me Game 7 will be much closer.

Game 7 will air on SportSouth and 92.9 The Game at 5:30 p.m.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central

Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Hawks Drop Game 6 as Pacers Tie Series 3-3

Thursday, May 1, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Drop Game 6 as Pacers Tie Series 3-3

The Hawks (3-3) weren’t able to get enough baskets late as the Pacers’ defense tightened up to get a 95-88 victory and force a Game 7 back in Indiana on Saturday. Paul George – 24 points, eight rebounds, and three assists — and David West – 24 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals – led the Pacers to the win in the fourth quarter.

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West had 12 of his 24 in the fourth as he attacked Paul Millsap, and was especially aggressive after Millsap picked up his fifth foul with three minutes to play — West had six points in the final three minutes. George had nine of his 24 in the fourth including a step-back three — somewhat reminiscent of the one he hit in Game 4 — to keep the Pacers within one as the Hawks were trying to pull away, and he iced the game at the free throw line, making all four of his attempts in the final minute.

Once again, late game offensive execution faltered for the Hawks, who scored just four points in the final 3:16 of the game on 1-of-6 shooting along with two turnovers. The Hawks were not able to create any good open looks, and, while down two with 41 seconds to play, Lou Williams drove the baseline and his attempted kick out to the corner was intercepted. After two George free throws, Jeff Teague‘s floater came up short, allowing George to seal the game with two more free throws.

Teague was tremendous for most of the game and scored a game-high 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting. Teague scored 12 in the third quarter — 10 of which in the final four minutes — to take the Hawks from down nine to up three heading into the fourth quarter. He did a great job being aggressive and attacking the paint, particularly when he had the bigger George defending him, but in the final minutes Indiana made sure to get the ball out of his hands in the halfcourt to force someone else to create.

The Hawks’ offense struggled for the majority of the game as they shot just 35.8% from the field and 25.7% from three-point range. Williams was the only player to shoot 50% from the field for Atlanta — 6-for-12 — as the rest of the team struggled to make their field goals.

While Millsap shot just 4-for-13 from the field, he was a monster on the glass with 18 rebounds — five offensive — and had 16 points (7-of-8 from the free throw line), five assists, three steals, and two blocks. He was active on both ends, rotating hard on defense to close off the lane and doing what he could on offense to either get himself a look for a shot or foul or to pass out to an open teammate.

Millsap was handcuffed on defense after picking up his fifth foul, and for that final three minutes was unable to be as effective as he was on that end earlier in the game. George Hill‘s layup that put Indiana up one with just under two minutes to play, and West’s runner to put the Pacers up both were made possible by Millsap not being able to be aggressive — he wasn’t able to rotate hard from the weakside on the Hill layup and couldn’t go up strong to contest the West runner.

Lance Stephenson had a great first half to help the Pacers take a five point lead into the break, as he scored 13 of his 21 points in the first two quarters along with five of his nine rebounds. Hill finished with 14 points, four assists, and four rebounds and showed up when they needed him in the closing stages.

Like in Game 4, the Hawks had their chances late, but were unable to execute down the stretch. Pero Antic continued to struggle shooting the ball — five points and six rebounds on 1-of-7 shooting — and had a turnover and missed a three-pointer in the closing minutes. After a great 16 point outing, including eight in the fourth quarter, Williams had the crucial pass intercepted late. Credit the Pacers defense with some terrific pressure on the ball and in the passing lanes in the final minutes, but the Hawks weren’t moving the ball as well as they had in the late third and early fourth when they took the lead.

“We got stagnant on the offensive end; we stopped playing with a lot of pace and movement,” Teague said. “When we do that, it’s easy to guard…We’re a confident group, so we know we can bounce back. We know we can get a win. It’s just what we have to do.”

The Hawks will have to regroup once again, as they did after Game 4, and go back to Indiana to try and take a third game on the road on Saturday in Game 7.

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