Show Your #HawksPride For A Chance To Win Game 3 Tickets

Friday, April 18, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Show Your #HawksPride For A Chance To Win Game 3 Tickets

The Atlanta Hawks are back in the playoffs, and we want you to be part of the experience when we come back to Philips Arena Thursday evening.

We are giving away two tickets to Game 3 during tomorrow night’s Hawks.com pregame show.  Here’s what you need to do:

Submit a photo of yourself showing your “Hawks Pride” on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #HawksPride.  This can be ANYTHING Hawks-related that you think fits the description of Hawks Pride.  All entries submitted by 6 p.m. Saturday (4/19) will be eligible to win.  We will then select four finalists, which we will announce on the Hawks.com pregame show beginning at 6 p.m., and we will instruct the finalists as to what they have to do to win the tickets.  So, to recap:

1)  Submit a photo of yourself showing your Hawks Pride on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #HawksPride
2)  Watch the Hawks.com pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. to see if you’re a finalists, and to get details on how to win the tickets

That’s it!  So easy, even a caveman can do it.

Of course, there are rules and such, which you must read before entering.  By submitting an entry, you acknowledge that you’ve read and agree to all rules listed here.

We look forward to seeing your photos and having you tune into the Hawks.com pregame show at 6 p.m. before Game 1 against the Pacers.

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Game 1 Scouting Report – Hawks vs. Pacers

Friday, April 18, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Game 1 Scouting Report – Hawks vs. Pacers

The Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks will kick off their playoff series Saturday in Indianapolis.  Both teams will be looking to win the all important Game 1 and set the tone for the series.

The Pacers will have the home crowd behind them, but the Hawks have been there before.  Saturday will be just 13 days removed from Atlanta’s 107-88 win at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, a game in which the Hawks shot 56 percent against the league’s best defense and went 12/27 from three.  Atlanta was able to spread out Indiana and get quality shots, while locking down the Pacers on the defensive end.

The Pacers have already said they’ll be looking at that game and using it as motivation for this series.  There’s no question Indiana will be ready this time, so the Hawks will have to step up their game as well.

Atlanta is 2-0 against Indiana this season when Saturday’s projected starting five of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic all start.  The Hawks finally appear to be as healthy as they’re going to be, and at just the right time.

As Hawks.com writer Robby Kalland mentioned in his series preview, the Hawks will try to use three-point threats Millsap and Antic to draw David West and Roy Hibbert away from the paint.  By doing so, they should be able to open up driving lanes and cuts for the guards, as well as get Korver free on curling screens, but it’ll be heavily dependent on whether or not Atlanta’s bigs are making those threes.  When Millsap and Antic started together against the Pacers, they were able to hit those shots, and they’ll have to do it again to be successful.

Defensively, containing Paul George is the focal point.  Carroll did an adequate job on him in the regular season and will again be tasked with slowing down the All-Star.  George does a good job of not only creating shots for himself, but getting others involved too.  Helping on him can be dangerous because he’s so good at finding the open man, so Carroll’s on-ball defense will have to be good enough to allow Atlanta’s other defenders to stick with their guys.

The Hawks have actually rebounded pretty well against the Pacers considering the size mismatch.  Once again, rebounding will have to be a focal point, and rebounds means an opportunity to push the ball in transition.  Indiana likes to play a half court game, and Atlanta is best when they’re running, so limiting the Pacers to one shot and running at every opportunity will be Atlanta’s best chance to score.

The Hawks are hoping to steal an opening game and flip home-court advantage.  Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Saturday on SportSouth and 92.9 The Game.

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Hawks Playoff Schedule Announced

Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Hawks Playoff Schedule Announced

The NBA has announced the Atlanta Hawks’ first round playoff schedule against the Indiana Pacers:

Game 1 will be Saturday, and the teams will have two days off before Game 2 on Tuesday.  There’s only one day between games after that until (if necessary) Game 6.

Hawks home games will be on April 24 and 26, as well as May 1 if it goes to a sixth game.  Tickets are still available for all games by clicking here.

All games will be televised on either FOX Sports South or SportSouth, as well as broadcast on 92.9 The Game.

Here is the complete schedule:

Game 1:  Saturday April 19 at 7 p.m.
Game 2:  Tuesday April 22 at 7 p.m.
Game 3:  Thursday April 24 at 7 p.m.
Game 4:  Saturday April 26 at 2 p.m.
*Game 5:  Monday April 28 at 8 p.m.
*Game 6:  Thursday May 1 (TBD)
*Game 7:  Saturday May 3 (TBD)

*If necessary

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Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images

Hawks Beat Bucks In Regular Season Finale

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Beat Bucks In Regular Season Finale

The Hawks (38-44) finished off their regular season with a 111-103 win in Milwaukee over the Bucks (15-67). The Hawks rested Paul Millsap (thumb) and played the rest of their starters about 20 minutes each — DeMarre Carroll looked good in his 22 minutes with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting along with four assists and three steals – in their final tune-up before the playoffs. For the second straight game, the bench unit got a great deal of playing time and experience. Mike Scott started in Millsap’s place and led the Hawks with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists on 61.5% shooting.

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Mike Muscala set a career-high with 15 points (6-of-8 shooting), four rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes of play. Muscala looked comfortable on the court and was active on both ends of the floor. Along with his offensive performance, being effective around the rim and from the mid-range, Moose had a pair of blocks on the defensive end, using his length to bother the Bucks.

The Bucks came out on fire, shooting 75% from the field (80% from three) in the first quarter on their way to a 39-29 lead. Brandon Knight had 11 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter, and John Henson had eight of his 19 in the first. The Hawks defense looked out of sync early, but settled down and looked much better over the final three quarters.

The Hawks slowly cut away at Milwaukee’s lead getting it down to five at the half behind 10 from Jeff Teague in the first half — his 12th consecutive game in double-figures – and Atlanta trailed by just one heading into the fourth quarter.  Cartier Martin along with Muscala and Lou Williams pushed the Hawks to the victory in the second half. Martin finished the game with 14 points (5-of-7 shooting), six rebounds, and three steals off the bench and Williams had nine points, four rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks moved the ball well — as they did all season — with 29 assists, and they did so as a team, with no player having more than four assists, but had nine players finish with multiple assists. Atlanta finished the season 2nd in the NBA in assists per game at 24.8 — Spurs at 25.2 in first — and this game was a microcosm of that commitment to ball movement.

The Hawks will now prepare themselves for the opening game of their first round series against the Pacers that will start in Indiana.

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Hawks-Pacers Playoffs Series Preview

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks-Pacers Playoffs Series Preview

The Hawks will take on the Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs for the second consecutive season. The two teams split their four regular season matchups, each team winning one game at home and one on the road. The Hawks will look to become the first eighth seed to defeat a one seed since the 76ers beat the Bulls 4-2 in 2012.

In the two Hawks’ wins this season, the three-point shot was a big factor as they were 44% from deep (22-of-50). Atlanta’s ability to spread the floor and hit threes, particularly with their bigs able to step outside, helped to draw the Pacers’ rim defenders out of the paint, opening up opportunities at the rim.

Both of the Hawks’ wins came with Pero Antic in the starting lineup — the same lineup they will start in the playoffs — and with that lineup, Atlanta’s bigs were 9-for-18 from three-point range in those two victories. In the Hawks’ two losses, they shot 37.3% from three-point range, but with Antic out for both matchups, Atlanta’s bigs – Paul Millsap and Mike Scott – shot just 3-of-14 (21.4%) from three, which allowed the Pacers’ bigs to stay closer to the basket to cut off driving lanes and opportunities at the rim.

You can see the difference in the Hawks’ effectiveness and efficiency from the three-point line and close to the rim in their two wins over Indiana compared to their two losses.

When the Hawks’ big men can provide a threat from the perimeter, it forces Indiana to change how they defend the pick-and-roll. As you’ll see in the example, the Pacers like to have their bigs sag underneath the screen to prevent drives to the basket. Against more traditional bigs that roll to the hoop or to a mid-range jumper, this strategy also allows for a close out and contest onto the roll-man. However, with the Hawks’ bigs popping out to the three-point line, it creates enough separation from the Pacers’ bigs sagging underneath to create an open three-point shot.

When the Hawks’ bigs are able to convert these open opportunities into made three-pointers, it forces the Pacers’ bigs to defend the pick-and-roll ball-handler less aggressively to stay within range of the popping big. This opens up driving lanes for Jeff Teague and the Atlanta guards to attack the basket, as shown here.

As you see, West is quicker in bailing on Teague to cover out on Scott, allowing Jeff to drive past his defender and get into the paint where he converts on a floater and draws the foul. If the Hawks can get Scott, Millsap, and Antic going from the perimeter, they can force the Pacers to make subtle changes to their defensive strategy that will open up the normally lock-tight Indiana interior defense.

Along with the bigs’ three-point shooting, Kyle Korver‘s presence coming off of screens is also a way for the Hawks to open up the interior of the Pacers staunch defense. The Pacers have committed to taking away Korver’s open looks as much as possible — he’s still 7-for-15 from three in the three games he’s played against Indiana this season — and in doing so, they have a tendency to over play him on pindowns.

In these two examples, one on the side and one at the top of the key, the Hawks are able to get the Pacers out of position on defense by having the screener slip into open space when Indiana’s big helps too far up the court on Korver.

In the first video, Antic slips the screen and Korver is able to hit him on a quick pass to the baseline. This forces the help from the weakside onto Antic, leaving Millsap open on the cut to the rim. In the second video, Scott slips the screen as Luis Scola slides up to protect against the Korver three, leaving Scott open on the roll into the lane for the floater.

Because Korver is such a threat as a shooter, defenses over-commit to him regularly. The Hawks do a great job of creating passing options for Korver when coming off of screens should the defense commit extra defenders to him. In this instance, Korver catches the ball off a pindown, and rather than dropping it to Antic on the baseline, he hits a cutting Shelvin Mack, which forces an Indiana rotation and then Mack makes the extra pass to a wide-open Scott.

Against the Pacers — who commit heavily to protecting the paint — pace, rapid ball movement, and spacing with the threat of bigs shooting from the outside is the blueprint for creating good, high-efficiency shots. In the Hawks two victories earlier this season, they executed that plan exceptionally well. If the Hawks let the games slow down too much or their bigs are unable to capitalize on open threes, they will have a much more difficult challenge as the Pacers’ defense thrives when they can set up and use their length to disrupt passing lanes and shots at the rim.

In the two losses, the Hawks turned the ball over 40 times combined compared to 27 combined turnovers in the two victories. The Pacers have so much length all over the court with George Hill at the point, Lance Stephenson and Paul George on the wing, and David West and Roy Hibbert in the frontcourt. That length makes them extremely difficult to beat when they can stay in position to contest shots or disrupt passes. Screens and quick passing are crucial to forcing rotations by Indiana, which in turn — as shown in some of the above clips — create open looks in high-efficiency areas of the floor.

Defensively, the Hawks will be challenged by the Pacers’ size and length on the wing. DeMarre Carroll will be tasked with defending Paul George the majority of the time, and will have to be wary of more than just George’s scoring ability. George likes to put the ball on the floor and is very good at facilitating to teammates when help defenders collapse on his drives, and when he draws extra defenders he also creates offensive rebounding opportunities.

Staying between George and the basket, and being able to allow the bigs to stay attached to their man will be Carroll’s primary task. George is not a particularly efficient shooter, but he commands so much attention that he creates plenty of opportunities for his teammates as well as himself.

The Hawks were surprisingly effective this season keeping the Pacers off the offensive boards, allowing just 8.5 second chance points per game in their four meetings.  Atlanta struggled at times this season against bigger opponents on the glass, but that was not an issue against Indiana despite their size advantage and the Hawks will need to continue to do this in the playoffs.

Transition defense — always a point of emphasis for Coach Bud — will have to be a priority. As mentioned earlier, turnover differential has been important for the Hawks’ success this season against the Pacers. That is made even more evident by looking at the Pacers’ points off turnovers in their wins and losses. In Indiana’s two wins, they averaged 27.5 points off of turnovers compared to just 15.5 in their losses to Atlanta. The Pacers offense in the halfcourt is not particularly efficient or prolific, but they become much more dangerous when they are able to get some easy points in transition, as evidenced by their splits against the Hawks.

The Hawks’ success against the Pacers offers at least some idea of what they have to do in this series. Obviously both teams will look at the film and make minor adjustments throughout the series — playoff basketball is unique in how much time can be devoted to game-planning for the opponent — but the basic ideas will be the same. All of the concepts that Coach Bud has preached all season — ball movement, pace, bigs spacing the floor, transition defense — will be put to the test against an excellent Pacers team, but the Hawks have shown that when they execute these concepts they have the ability to beat Indiana, at home or on the road.

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Hawks Will Play Pacers In First Round

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Hawks Will Play Pacers In First Round

The Atlanta Hawks know who their first round opponent will be.

The Miami Heat lost to the Washington Wizards Monday night, giving the Indiana Pacers the top spot in the Eastern Conference and a first round date with Atlanta.

It will be the second straight season the teams meet in the first round of the playoffs.  Last season Indiana won the series 4-2 after the teams split their regular season meetings.

The teams split their four games this season as well, but the difference this year is that Indiana and Atlanta each got a regular season road win in the other’s building.

Indiana has struggled since the All-Star break, limping to the finish after a dominant first 50 games that had them atop the standings not only in the East, but in the entire NBA.  The recent slide has been due to a severe drop in offensive production across the board.  Paul George is averaging almost 22 points per game, but nobody else on Indiana’s roster is better than 14.  The Pacers also haven’t gotten a lot out of Roy Hibbert recently, including a scoreless game in the teams’ most recent meeting.

Indiana got a boost with a big win over the Thunder on Sunday that helped boost them to the #1 seed.  C.J. Watson, one new piece of the Pacers’ revamped bench, scored a season-high 20 points and David West finished with a team-high 21.  That could be the game Indiana needed to get back on track as they head into the postseason.

These teams are very familiar with one another, having played 16 times (preseason, regular season, postseason) over the past two years.  Hawks.com writer Robby Kalland will have a comprehensive breakdown of how they match up with one another later this week.

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Hawks Fall at Buzzer to Bobcats

Monday, April 14, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Hawks Fall at Buzzer to Bobcats

The Hawks (37-44) played a hard-fought game with a short-handed lineup, but came up just short as the Bobcats (42-39) got a 95-93 win on a Chris Douglas-Roberts floater at the buzzer. The Hawks were resting three starters – Paul MillsapDeMarre Carroll, and Kyle Korver – for the game and had Jeff Teague and Pero Antic sit the fourth quarter as the young bench unit got an opportunity to get valuable experience. 

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“When you’re in our situation, health and all those things are a priority,” said Coach Budenholzer. “It was great to see Pero look like he had a bounce and was moving well and playing well. Jeff was the same thing. It was an opportunity to get them a little bit of rest, and an opportunity to get guys reps on defense and offense and all the different things we do. There were a lot of positives with giving other people opportunities and allowing Jeff and Pero to play, and play without being injured.”

The Hawks started slow, trailing by as many as nine in the first quarter, but fought back and took a six-point lead at the half. They extended that lead in the third quarter, and took a game-high 15-point lead into the fourth. Atlanta’s defense in the second and third quarters was terrific, limiting the Bobcats to 36.6% shooting in those two quarters. The Bobcats only source of consistent offense in the first three quarters came from Al Jefferson, who finished the game with a monster double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, the Bobcats started to make shots as Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal came in off the bench and had 10 points each in the fourth. While the Bobcats’ offense got rolling, the Hawks began to sputter, as Atlanta shot 25% in the quarter (14.3% from three) as they scored just 13 points to the Bobcats 30. Charlotte took the lead with 4:24 to play, and led by as many as five in the final minutes, but the Hawks came back to tie the game twice, once by Shelvin Mack and then again by Lou Williams with 2.6 seconds remaining.

On the final play of the game, the Hawks did well to cover the Bobcats’ first three options — Neal, Ridnour, and Jefferson — but the Bobcats were able to get Douglas-Roberts the ball coming across the free throw line, and he curled towards the basket and hit the high-arcing floater at the buzzer to seal the win.

While the Hawks lost, they were able to get valuable experience for some young players and much needed rest for their starters as they prepare for the playoffs. With no opportunity to advance their positioning in the East, the Hawks were able to sit three guys that have been battling nagging injuries of late — Carroll (hand), Millsap (thumb), and Korver (back) — and then give Antic and Teague the opportunity to stay loose in the early part of the game, but stay out of harms way late.

For young players like Dennis Schröder and Mike Muscala, the experience gained by playing in a close game in the fourth quarter is invaluable for their development. Muscala put forth a solid game with eight points — tying his career high — and five rebounds, while getting plenty of lessons having to defend Jefferson. Muscala, as he usually does, looked active and played with a lot of energy at both ends.

Mike Scott led the Hawks with 20 points on 8-of-23 shooting along with six boards. Elton Brand came off the bench for a strong 21 minute performance with 12 points (4-of-5 shooting), seven rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Mack also had a solid night with 13 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 50% shooting.

With the Heat losing to the Wizards tonight, the Hawks first round opponent is locked in as they will take on the Pacers for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks will have one final tune up before the playoffs when they travel to Milwaukee for the regular season finale against the Bucks on Wednesday.

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Teague Earns First Career Player of the Week Honor

Monday, April 14, 2014
By Jaryd Wilson
Teague Earns First Career Player of the Week Honor

The NBA Monday named Jeff Teague the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the first such award of his career.

Teague led the Hawks to a 3-1 week, including wins over the Nets and Heat to help Atlanta clinch a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season.

In games against Detroit, Boston, Brooklyn and Miami, Teague averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists.

He scored 16 second quarter points in the game against Brooklyn, erasing an early deficit and giving the Hawks a lead they held for most of the game.  His running floater with less than 20 seconds left iced a win and snapped the Nets’ 15-game home winning streak.

Teague led the Hawks with 25 points in a win over the Heat the next night to clinch a playoff spot.  He shot 51 percent from the field last week.

Paul Millsap earned Player of the Week honors earlier this season.

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Scouting Report: Charlotte Bobcats

Monday, April 14, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Scouting Report: Charlotte Bobcats

The Hawks (37-43) will face the Bobcats (41-39) at Philips Arena in a matchup of the seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte will be plenty motivated as the Bobcats are still in the hunt for the sixth seed and are just one game back of the Wizards, who they own the tie-breaker over. The Hawks — 6-2 in their last eight — clinched their playoff berth on Saturday night, and will be looking to keep their confidence high as they head into the playoffs.

Al Jefferson is the focal point of the Bobcats’ offense, scoring 21.9 points and pulling down 10.7 boards per game. Jefferson has excelled in his first season in Charlotte, taking well to new coach Steve Clifford’s system on offense and defense. Jefferson is a bruising force in the post, a bit of a throwback to centers of yesteryear, and has quite possibly the best offensive footwork of any player in the post. Jefferson has a full array of post moves and is almost automatic if he gets the ball in deep position. The Hawks defense will have to beat Jefferson to his spots, doing the work early on defense to keep him out of deep position, and when he does get the ball in the post, guards will need to be quick and decisive with their digs as they try to disrupt his rhythm on the block.

Along with Jefferson, Kemba Walker has been terrific for the Bobcats this year. Walker is averaging 17.8 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. Walker has continued to grow as a point guard, becoming a very good facilitator while still being a significant scoring threat. Jeff Teague will be pressured on both ends of the floor by Walker, but Teague has been up to the challenge in each of the first three meetings between the two teams this season.

Defense has been the most impressive — and surprising — part of the Bobcats’ success. Steve Clifford has turned the Bobcats into one of the NBA’s best defensive teams in just his first season, using the Bobcats’ length and athleticism on the perimeter and wing to create an advantage. Michael Kidd-GilchristChris Douglas-Roberts, and Gerald Henderson are all extremely long wing defenders that allow the Bobcats to pressure the ball while still being able to make hard closeouts and rotations onto shooters. Walker is very good at pestering ball-handlers, and while Jefferson has never been known as a defensive player, Clifford has gotten the most out of the big man at the rim.

The Hawks have handled the Bobcats as well as any team this season, winning all three of their previous meetings this year. Paul Millsap dominated in their last meeting, a 97-83 win in Charlotte, scoring 28 points along with five rebounds. Millsap creates a match-up problem for Charlotte because if they put a smaller power forward on him, he can go to work in the post, while being able to draw a bigger defender out of the paint with his shooting ability.  Millsap will sit out this matchup as Coach Bud looks to work in some different lineups.

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Paul Millsap Pushing Hawks to Playoffs

Monday, April 14, 2014
By Robby Kalland
Paul Millsap Pushing Hawks to Playoffs

Heading into the playoffs the Hawks, who clinched their berth Saturday night, are playing some of their best basketball of the second half of the season, led by All-Star power forward Paul Millsap. Over the last eight games — where the Hawks are 6-2 — Millsap has led the way averaging 19.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks.

Millsap offered a simple explanation for his play of late. “Just being aggressive and going after it, man. That’s it.”

That aggressive mindset can be seen in his shot distribution.

Millsap is taking 12.9% more shots within eight feet of the rim over the last eight games than he was in the first 66 of the season, and as such the number of long two-point attempts and three-point attempts has dropped. Long twos accounted for 11.3% of his shot attempts, but that percentage has dropped to 7.8% in the last eight games. His three-point attempts have dropped, going from 20.9% of all of his attempts to now being 13.8% of his shots.

Millsap’s ability to shoot the outside shot, particularly from three-point range, has been an important part of the Hawks offense this year, but he is being more judicious about when he takes those jump shots and when he tries to take defenders off the dribble to get a shot near the rim.

Along with being more aggressive, Millsap — and the team as a whole — have been able to return to a sense of normalcy and have gotten comfortable with each other on the court again. After going through a difficult stretch after the All-Star break where the Hawks dealt with numerous injuries, Atlanta has gotten healthier of late, and as their chemistry on the floor comes back they’ve begun to regain the form that had them in the third seed earlier in the season.

“It does ,” Millsap said. “Most everybody’s pretty much healthy. We’ve still got a few knick-knacks, but that’s going to happen. Our lineups have been pretty consistent over the course of the last couple of weeks, and that’s been really good for us.”

The on-court chemistry between Millsap and Jeff Teague is vitally important for the Hawks’ offense, because it operates through them a lot in the pick-and-roll/pop game. Teague had that chemistry with Al Horford after playing together for so many years, and when Horford went down it had a clear effect on Teague’s effectiveness and the team as a whole. Teague had to learn to work with a new primary pick-and-roll partner and without consistent lineups, the process of developing their chemistry has taken time, but they have been excellent of late and Millsap expects them to continue getting better together.

“Never satisfied, you know,” Millsap said. “It’s a work in progress. We’re still getting better at some things. He’s still learning. I’m still learning him, but it takes time. Hopefully over time we’ll get great at it. Not just good at it, but great at it.”

While Millsap’s scoring has been a huge part of the Hawks’ recent success in their playoff push, it’s all the other things Millsap can do that makes him special. His defensive presence has been huge considering the injuries in the frontcourt and the group as a whole being a bit undersized in the paint. He is very adept at being active in passing lanes to get deflections and is in the top 10 in the NBA in steals per game, which helps jump start the Hawks’ transition offense. For Coach Bud, it’s been this defensive impact that has been the most impressive.

“I think where he stood out to me is in second halves or when we need a defensive rebound or we need a stop how he’s really just kind of elevated himself and went and got a big board. Went up in a crowd and came down with the ball or got a deflection and got a steal or a blocked shot. He just does so many little things defensively, and when the game is on the line and you need a stop he’s just got that feeling and that instinct and he’s been able to make some big plays for us especially defensively.”

Offensively, Millsap is more than just a scoring threat, and the Hawks will often run their offense through Millsap in crucial situations because of his good decision-making.

“He’s unique and maybe makes us a little bit different by having a guy who’s a good decision maker,” Coach Bud said. “Sometimes it’s the pass that leads to the pass, or sometimes it’s a pick-and-roll situation where he receives it from a guard and then can find another shooter. As good as teams are defensively, to get them into second and third and fourth rotations, ultimately against good teams that’s what you have to do. Sometimes Paul is the kind of guy that can read the rotation or force a rotation and make the right decision. We’re fortunate to have him. He does a lot of it himself, it’s no credit to anybody else and he’s just a special player for us.”

Millsap’s presence has been a major reason why the Hawks were able to make the playoffs while missing Horford in the middle. Millsap has a unique offensive skill-set that makes him a match-up problem for most any team because he can stretch the floor and is also a strong, physical player in the post. Having him playing at a high level at both ends of the floor is important for the Hawks’ chances in the playoffs.

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