Teague Leads Hawks to Game 3 Win, 2-1 Series Lead Over Pacers

Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Teague Leads Hawks to Game 3 Win, 2-1 Series Lead Over Pacers

Jeff Teague exploded in the second half for 15 points and five assists on his way to a 22-point, 10-assist night to lead the Hawks (2-1) to a 98-85 victory in Game 3. Kyle Korver found his stroke in the second half as well, hitting 3-of-4 from the three-point line, including a four-point play, for 12 of his 20 points on the night. Paul Millsap had 14 points and 14 rebounds and played solid defense against the Pacers’ bigs, and DeMarre Carroll was exceptional and efficient, with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and had 14 of those 18 in the second half.

Hawks vs. Pacers

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After a defensive struggle for the first half that finished at 39-38 Hawks, Atlanta’s offense came alive in the second half for 61 points on 48.5% shooting (10-of-18 from three) after shooting 30 percent from the field (2-of-16 from three) in the first half. The Hawks’ offense was jump-started by their aggressive play to attack the center of the Pacers’ defense, and then worked the ball inside-out to move the defense and create open looks. Atlanta had a number of open looks that they missed in the first half, but continued to play their game and in the second half those shots fell.

“You know, sometimes that happens with shooting,” Korver said. “Sometimes you just miss. You work on it everyday and try to get your mechanics perfect and sometimes you just miss. I thought we had good looks, we had a lot of energy…Sometimes when you’re pumped up you shoot a bunch of threes, and sometimes you miss them and I thought that kinda happened in the first half. We settled down and our defense was solid all night, which allowed us to keep a lead even though we were 2-for-16 from three and then we did some good things in the second half.”

The Hawks’ defense was tremendous all night, which, as Korver said, allowed them time to get their offensive rhythm to come around. Atlanta’s defensive presence was headed up by Carroll, who limited Paul George to 3-of-11 shooting for 12 points and 14 rebounds. After having two big offensive games in Indiana, George was slowed by the Hawks’ defensive pressure.

“I’ve been doing it all year,” Carroll said. “Coach has been really relying on me. He told me before the season that he wanted me to guard the best player every night and that’s what I wanted to do. So, I’m trying to be one of these elite defenders. Without my teammates helping me , cause it’s not only me, it’s my teammates. They’re making the right reads. With Paul George, we just try to be aggressive real early and get him out the game, and you know, he didn’t make too many shots.” 

In the third quarter, Carroll had nine points and Teague had a massive transition dunk that lifted the energy of the team and the fans. The Hawks also got a boost in the third from Lou Williams off the bench, who had a pair of threes including a step-back at the end of the quarter that pushed Atlanta’s lead from six to nine heading into the fourth quarter. In that fourth quarter, Teague and Korver took over.

Teague had 11 points in the fourth, including another huge breakaway dunk, and the shot of the game where he hit a falling, fading three at the shot clock buzzer to give the Hawks a nine-point lead with 2:49 to play. The referees reviews the play, and even though Teague stepped out of bounds prior to the shot, they were unable to overturn the play because the only thing they can review is where his feet were when he jumped for the shot, and both of his feet had been reestablished inbounds by that time. A similar event happened at the end of the half, where George Hill tipped in a shot that was still on the rim, but because it was not called basket interference, that ruling could not be reviewed, only whether the tip came before the buzzer — which it did.

Korver hit the dagger three-pointer from the corner with 1:41 left that put the Hawks up 92-80. Atlanta would put the game on ice at the free throw line, where they finished 30-for-37 (81.1%).

Atlanta’s aggressive play at both ends of the floor was the difference in the game. The Hawks were able to pressure Indiana’s offense into contested looks and held them to 37.6% shooting — 5-of-20 from three. The Hawks defensive intensity was steady throughout the game, and they only trailed for 26.4 seconds near the end of the first half. Lance Stephenson (21), David West (16), and Luis Scola (17) led the Pacers in scoring, but ended up as the only players on the team to shoot 50% or better on the game — no one else shot better than 33.3% from the field.

That defensive intensity turned into offensive pace, as the Hawks had 18 fastbreak points to Indiana’s nine. The Hawks were able to turn Indiana turnovers and missed shots into transition and semi-transition looks in the second half, which kept Indiana’s defense from getting set. Atlanta moved the ball well with 21 assists after recording season-lows in the first two games at 13 in each game. Teague spear-headed the attack — on both ends, holding Hill to four points on 1-of-10 shooting — and his aggressive play fueled the rest of the team.

” is the head of the snake,” Elton Brand said. “When he plays well, we play well.”

Philips Arena was rocking throughout the game as the 18,124 in attendance rallied behind the Hawks and helped push them to the victory, to maintain home-court advantage.

“Our crowd tonight was amazing by the way,” Korver said. “That was the best Hawks crowd I’ve ever been a part of. It’s one thing to cheer when your team makes a play, it’s another to cheer your team TO make a good play. I thought a couple times when we were down they really got us going, so that was really awesome tonight.”

The Hawks and Pacers will play Game 4 at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, as the Hawks will look to maintain home-court advantage and take a 3-1 series lead.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 4

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Game 3 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Game 3 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

After the Indiana Pacers made successful adjustments to win Game 2 after a Game 1 loss, the task now falls on the Atlanta Hawks to see if they can adjust prior to Game 3.

The Pacers were fundamentally sound on both ends of the floor in the second half of their big Game 2 victory.  Aided by a 19-0 stretch, Indiana limited Atlanta to just 33 second half points, and a chunk of those came after both teams had pulled their starters.

One major adjustment that Indiana made for Game 2 that the Hawks will no doubt see again in game 3 is Paul George on Jeff Teague.  George’s length seemed to both Teague a bit, and he did a nice job, especially in the second half.  Atlanta is going to stick to what they do, but Teague will have to be aggressive against George and try to create for others when he doesn’t have an opportunity to score.

Knowing that Paul Millsap likes to post up more than Pero Antic, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel also switched defenders, using David West to guard Antic to keep defensive anchor Roy Hibbert closer to the rim.  Millsap is going to have to knock down perimeter jumpers in order to stretch Hibbert, and he has shot well in the series so far.

Indiana’s adjustments mean the Hawks won’t be able to get away with 13 assists, a number they’ve been stuck on for each of the first two games, if they hope to win because the one-on-one matchups won’t be there.  They’ll have to rely on quick ball movement, smart shot selection and ball protection.

All of Atlanta’s players seemed excited about the opportunity to play in front of their fans, and there’s no doubt Philips Arena will be rocking on Thursday night.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 3

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Hawks CEO Steve Koonin Holds Twitter Q&A

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

Steve Koonin Makes One Hawks Fan’s Day

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Steve Koonin Makes One Hawks Fan’s Day

Selfies.  Owner’s locker room tours.  Free playoff tickets.

New Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin is the coolest CEO you’ll ever meet.

Koonin, who was named to the position a week and a half ago, is already making his mark among fans.  He has already appeared on radio shows and local TV broadcasts, openly saying he wants to create a connection between fans and the team, giving them a memorable experience.

He took another step toward being a prominent face of the franchise Wednesday when he agreed to do a Twitter Question & Answer session with fans from his own account (@SteveKoonin).  That in itself was special, but not nearly as special as what immediately followed.

During the Q&A, which Koonin was doing from his own account, one fan asked if he could schedule a meeting to talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koonin answered:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though Koonin was serious, he probably thought there was no way Jordan Wilson would actually show up.  Until he did.  Koonin’s cell phone rang, and it was a Philips Arena security employee telling him that the kid who he told to come to Philips Arena was waiting outside for him.

Others may have laughed it off.  Not Koonin.  Not only did he go outside to greet Wilson, he brought him into the arena:

 

…gave him some Hawks gear in the owner’s locker room:

 

…and even took him onto the court for this incredible selfie:

Did we mention Koonin also gave him tickets to Game 3 on Thursday night?

“You made my year, maybe my life,” Wilson said as he left after getting a behind-the-scenes tour of Philips Arena.

“You need to set the bar higher,” Koonin joked in reply.

An unforgettable experience indeed.

Pacers Dominate Second Half, Tie Series With Hawks

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Pacers Dominate Second Half, Tie Series With Hawks

The Pacers (1-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead early, but the Hawks (1-1) — like in Game 1 — answered the bell and led by as many as 11 in the second quarter and were up 52-48 at the half. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the third quarter had to happen, and the Pacers dominated on both ends of the floor, outscoring the Hawks 31-13, and took a commanding lead that ended up with a 101-85 victory for Indiana to tie the series at a game apiece.

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Luis Scola gave the Pacers a huge lift off the bench with 20 points and seven rebounds and shot 64.3% from the field. Paul George led all scorers with 27 points along with 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals in a massive performance from the Pacers’ All-Star forward. George Hill came alive in the third quarter after a rough opening six quarters to the series, as he dropped 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the third to help spark the Pacers’ run.

Over the course of the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters, the Pacers went on a 19-0 run while the Hawks went 0-for-12 from the field. Indiana’s defense returned to the dominant form they showed in the first half of the season as they held the Hawks to 25% shooting. The Pacers were trapping pick-and-rolls hard, while doing a great job rotating out onto the Hawks shooters, who went 1-for-8 from three in the third after going 8-for-16 in the first half.

The dramatic difference between the Hawks’ offensive success in the first half — 50% shooting from the field and three-point range — to the second half — 29.3% from the field and 15.4% from three. The Pacers’ defense was locked in, forcing the Hawks into contested attempts anytime they got near the basket and chased out on three-point shooters. When Atlanta was able to get a good look in the second half, they were unable to capitalize. For the second straight game Kyle Korver was unable to find his stroke despite getting a few good looks. Korver only took one shot attempt in the first half and finished the game 1-of-5 from the field.

With the Pacers clicking on all cylinders and holding as much as a 27-point fourth quarter lead, both teams played the reserves for the remainder of the game. In that time, the Hawks closed the gap to 16, as Dennis Schröder and Cartier Martin combined for nine late points.

Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague looked great in the first half, but like the rest of the Hawks they were casualties of the Pacers’ defense in the second half. Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points and four rebounds while Teague had 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Both players did most of their damage in the first half, combining for 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

The Hawks bench looked excellent in the first half as well, as they were the group that extended Atlanta’s second quarter lead to a game-high 11 points. Shelvin MackMike Scott, Lou Williams and Elton Brand all had solid first halves and combined for 17 points, led by Williams’ nine.

The Pacers were just too dominant in the second half. They were tenacious on defense and aggressive on offense. The Indiana bench — a weak spot at times this year — was just as effective as the starters thanks to Scola’s scoring and the entire team’s defensive effort.

The Hawks still have to consider the first two games a success. Any time as the road team — much less the eighth seed — you can get one of the first two games on the road to take home-court advantage it’s a success. Now is the hard part — defending home court. Atlanta will host the Pacers for Game 3 on Thursday night at 7 p.m. and then on Saturday for Game 4 for a 2 p.m. tip-off.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 3

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Game 2 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

Monday, April 21, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Game 2 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers

After the Atlanta Hawks took Game 1 on the Indiana Pacers’ home floor, both teams had two days to look at film and make necessary adjustments before Game 2.

For the Hawks, all indications are they’ll be doing what they’ve been doing all year, including Game 1.  Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said there are some things to clean up but that they’ll have the same game plan going into Game 2.  For Pacers coach Frank Vogel, adjustments could be on the way as early as Tuesday, though he wouldn’t say for sure.

One possible adjustment is putting All-Star Paul George on Jeff Teague.  George is quicker than Pacers starting point guard George Hill and may have better luck keeping Teague in front of him.  At 6’9,” George would also be better apt to contest Teague’s jump shooting and could also alter shots at the rim.

If George does take Teague, then Hill would likely be tasked with chasing Kyle Korver around.  That matchup certainly favors Korver, who would be able to shoot over the much smaller Hill, as well as get himself free for more shots.  Vogel will ponder if the tradeoff is worth the switch, but it might be if the first half of Game 2 starts how the second half of Game 1 did.

The other option the Pacers have is to start Evan Turner and bring George Hill off the bench.  I doubt they’d do it, as ball-handling would be the issue with this lineup, but at least they’d have the defensive matchups they’d want and enough offensive firepower to make up for the lack of a true point guard.  After all, the Hawks don’t apply a ton of defensive pressure on the perimeter, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world for Indiana.

Atlanta did a nice job containing both David West and Roy Hibbert in Game 1 and will need to continue to do that in Game 2.  The two big men had just eight points apiece, and Neither reached double figures in rebounding.  Keeping the Pacers off the glass will be a big key in getting a Game 2 win.

If the Hawks move the ball, space the floor and stay aggressive, I like their chances of getting another win.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 3

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Monday Practice Report: Hawks Focused On Themselves, Not Pacers

Monday, April 21, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

The Atlanta Hawks held practice at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse Monday morning, and the message was the same: Respect the opponent, but focus on ourselves.  Here are some notes from Monday:

- Coach Bud said the focus continues to be on what the Hawks are doing, not what Indiana is doing.  ”We need to stick to what we do,” he said.

- The practice started with a film session and was followed by the team running through most of its offensive sets.  ”We need to stay humble and hungry,” DeMarre Carroll said afterwards.

- It doesn’t appear there will be any lineup changes or major adjustments on the Hawks’ side.  Indiana has hinted at the possibility of putting its best defender, Paul George, on Jeff Teague.  We’ll see what Frank Vogel decides to do in Game 2, but even that shouldn’t mean a huge change from Coach Bud.

Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday on FOX Sports South and 92.9 The Game.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 3

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Practice Report: Hawks Looking To Improve On Game 1

Sunday, April 20, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson

The Atlanta Hawks were back to work Sunday afternoon, holding about an hour-long practice to review Game 1 and continue to improve going into Game 2.  Here are some notes:

- Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said he thinks his team can play better.  He was happy with the competitiveness of the group but said there are still some things to clean up.  ”We’re going to continue to do the things we’ve been doing all year.”

- Coach Bud also stressed that the two wins in Indiana this month are merely a product of the team’s improved play throughout the season rather than the Hawks having the Pacers’ number or a matchup advantage.  Bottom line, they’re focused on themselves, not the opponent.

- Both Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver think the team can improve on its Game 1 performance.  Paul George said “they played as well as they can play” after Game 1, but both Teague and Korver said at practice Sunday that the team can play better.

- Atlanta is staying in Indianapolis between games 1 and 2.  They held practice on the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse practice court Sunday.

Click here for Hawks Playoff Central
Click here to get tickets to Game 3

Hawks Catch Attention After Impressive Game 1 Win

Sunday, April 20, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Hawks Catch Attention After Impressive Game 1 Win

The Atlanta Hawks have been brushed aside by the national media for much of the 2013-14 season.  Perhaps it’s because they don’t have a superstar, perhaps it’s because they lingered around .500 all season, or perhaps it’s because the media wrote them off after two-time All-Star Al Horford suffered a season-ending injury.

That changed (somewhat) after a dominant Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers that saw Atlanta go up by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter.  While the bulk of the talk was about the Pacers’ late-season struggles carrying over into the playoffs, many sprinkled in some compliments for the Hawks, who are one of only two Eastern Conference teams to win at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse this season.

Here are some of our favorites:

- We’ll start at the local level, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore.  He’s been fair to the team all season and provided his three keys to victory.  Click here to read them.

- We disagree with the second sentence of SB Nation’s article.  The Hawks, when healthy, are actually a good team.  But the rest of this article about how Atlanta’s shooting threats give Indiana problems is spot on.  Click here to read it.

- Sports Illustrated chose to focus on Indiana’s struggles but did offer a compliment near the bottom of this article.  Hey, that’s more than the Hawks have had all season, so we’ll take it.

- Yahoo sprinkled in some kind comments.  They too are inaccurate in saying the Hawks aren’t very good, but the analysis was good.  Click here to read it.

- The Associated Press was more kind than the others, giving Jeff Teague a lot of credit in their recap.

- ESPN’s Hawks Hoop writer Buddy Grizzard graded each of the Hawks players who played last night.  Read his grades by clicking here.

- Bleacher Report also graded each player, and they were much more kind to the Hawks than they were to the Pacers.  Read the grades here.

- Our friends at Peachtree Hoops, who are always kind to Atlanta, gave the team much-deserved kudos.  Here’s just one example: A nice post from Kris Willis.

- And of course, we close with a shameless plug to our own recap by Hawks.com writer Robby Kalland.

Photo by Andy Lyons/NBAE/Getty Images

Hawks Take Game 1 In Indiana

Saturday, April 19, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Take Game 1 In Indiana

The Hawks (1-0) were able to win Game 1 of their first round matchup with the Pacers (0-1) 101-93 thanks to a dominating third quarter and a game-high 28 points and five assists from Jeff Teague. Atlanta also got 25 points and eight rebounds from Paul Millsap.

Hawks vs. Pacers

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The game went back and forth in the first half, with the Hawks taking the lead early and the Pacers fighting back to tie it at 50 apiece at the half. In the third quarter, the Hawks exploded for 30 points while holding Indiana to 16 as they ran away with the lead. Teague and Millsap combined for 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the third, as they dominated inside and out. Atlanta’s defense paved the way for their offensive success in the third, holding the Pacers to 26.3 percent shooting and forcing seven Indiana turnovers.

Teague did a great job of pushing the pace for the Hawks, and created great looks for himself by being aggressive attacking the basket in pick-and-roll and isolation. The Hawks slowed down in the second quarter with the bench unit in the game, which allowed the Pacers to take a brief lead, but Atlanta did well to get their offense moving again with ball movement and player movement to create space against the great Indiana defense.

Along with Millsap and Teague, the Hawks got great contributions from DeMarre CarrollKyle Korver, and Shelvin Mack. Carroll and Korver had 12 points each — a playoff high for Carroll — (also a playoff-high 10 rebounds). Korver and Carroll also provided a nice defensive presence, something we’ve come to expect from both to different extents.

Carroll locked down on Paul George on the defensive end, holding him to 33 percent shooting from the field. George had 24 points to lead the Pacers but had to fight for those points as he struggled to find space against Carroll and the hard-trapping Hawks.

Korver was tasked with defending Lance Stephenson for much of the night, and he did well keeping Lance out of the paint and forcing him into jumpers. Stephenson was big for the Pacers in the second quarter, with nine of his 19 points in that period when the Hawks’ bench was in. Korver also had a pair of blocked shots — both on Roy Hibbert — as he was effective helping down at the rim.

The Hawks’ defense was excellent from top to bottom, as they forced the Pacers into a number of difficult shots from low-efficiency spots on the floor, while being able to control the glass. Indiana shot just 42 percent from the field (42.9% from three) and Atlanta led the rebounding battle 46-42 (12-9 offensive). Keeping the Pacers, who are considered the more physical team, off the glass was a point of emphasis for the Hawks defense, and they executed that game-plan magnificently tonight.

Atlanta’s execution on both ends of the floor was as good as we’ve seen all season. Defensively, they were aggressive in trapping on pick-and-rolls and were furiously chasing out on their rotations and on offense they pushed the pace and got themselves good looks.

On offense, Atlanta had just 13 assists on the game — a season low — but did well to create looks on the ball, and got a lot of good three-point looks that just didn’t fall — Hawks shot 11-of-30 from three; Korver was 2-of-7. As a team, they were assertive — following the lead of Teague and Millsap — and took open looks when they were afforded them, whether they came in the post, off the dribble, or off a pass.

The Hawks have stolen home-court advantage and continue to play extremely well with their lineup healthy again. With the win, the Hawks are now 7-2 in their last 9 games and have won two straight games in Indiana. Both teams will have two days off to look at the tape and continue to make adjustments before Game 2 back in Indiana on Tuesday night (7 p.m. on SportSouth/TNT). 

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