Category Archives: Atlanta Hawks

Brooklyn full of promise for the struggling Nets

It’s been a very long time since we were able to say that the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets are relevant. Yet suddenly this is the case, with a new stadium and a big name player to stand alongside Deron Williams in free agent signing Joe Johnson. The Nets might finally be able to compete in the East once more. Avery Johnson, head coach of the Nets, is cautious but optimistic of the Net’s hopes:

“We’re not there yet. We’re not a championship team. We got a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had the last two years.

We’re much more versatile than we’ve ever been. Right now, we look good on paper. Now we got to take it from looking good on paper and apply the work to go (forward).’’

-Avery Johnson, Head coach of the Brooklyn Nets

The Nets should be contenders with their All Star back court alone. Williams and Johnson are still in their prime and strong leaders. Both will be keen to win after years of playing on under achieving teams. The only possible issue is that they are both ball heavy guards, they both love to have the ball in their hands. But as the Miami Heat have shown, players can adapt and both Johnson and Williams will likely enjoy having another high calibre player to rely on

However, it’s not just their backcourt that gives them strength. Their front court of Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez are also dangerous, with Brook Lopez verging on being a top five centre in the East. Gerald Wallace has lost some of his explosive offensive power, but is still a phenomenal defender that is feared throughout the league. Keep an eye on the Nets, that’s for sure.

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Hawks vs Celtics: Game 5

The Atlanta Hawks barely escaped elimination with a one point victory over the Boston Celtics. Al Horford came up huge for the Hawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead his team in a game he was not even supposed to be playing in. All starters scored in double digits for the Hawks.

A Rajon Rondo burst at the end of the third bought the Celtics back into striking distance, but with Paul Pierce lagging with a knee injury, the Cs were always going to be pressed for offensive punch. Garnett added 16 and Ray Allen had 15 off the bench in the losing effort. Rondo gave the Celtics a chance to win it, stealing Josh Smith’s inbound pass, but great defence from Al Horford meant that he was not able to get the shot up

“I tried to make a play, but got caught on the [sideline]. Give Al credit . . . Al makes a big difference. He can guard anybody on the court.”
— Rondo

Hawks vs Celtics: Game Four

The Hawks may of gotten back Josh Smith and Al Horford back into the lineup but it made little difference as the Celtics cruised to a dominant 22 points win in the last game before Atlanta. With the win, the Celtics take a 3-1 series lead into Atlanta next game. Paul Pierce led all scorers with 24 points in only 16 minutes of play. Rajon Rondo set the pace early with 10 assists in the first half and finished with 20 points and 16 assists in another clinical display.

 

 

The Hawks struggled all night and the individual scores reflect this. Usual high scorer Joe Johnson only had 9 points while Josh Smith led all scorers for the Hawks with 15 points on his return from injury but struggled with touch, shooting just 5-13 from the field. The Hawks as a team shot quite well, hitting 40 percent of their shots, but they were simply overwhelmed by an always loud TD Garden crowd and the Celtics 50 percent shooting display. Simply a great win for the Cs to take onto the road.

 

Celtics vs Hawks: Game Three

Rajon Rondo’s return was met with his 7th career playoff triple double as the Boston Celtics took a 2-1 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks. With star Josh Smith out, the Atlanta Hawks fought bravely to force an overtime period. They were overwhelmed by the Celtics though, who outscored them 10-4 in the extra period. The Hawks rode the strong play of Joe Johnson all night, who made tough shot after tough shot to keep his team in the game, including a stare down three over Pietrus to tie the game.

“Being back on the floor I felt alive, like I was back in my own skin. … My ankle is achy and mad at me now … but I’m in a good place.”
— Allen

Sharpshooter Ray Allen had 13 in his return, despite not hitting a single triple. Pierce and Garnett both topped 20 points, with Pierce hitting all 14 of his free throws.  Jeff Teague worked hard to even the ledge against the great play of Rondo, but his 23 points and 6 assists were not enough to counter Rondo’s ridiculous line of 17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 4 steals.

 

Boston, Philly, Lakers all winners

Note: I may continue doing the individual game format, just had no time today. Thanks

Boston vs Atlanta.

Needing a big win before heading back home, the Boston Celtics got the job done despite the absence of their starting backcourt. With Ray out trhough injury and Rondo through suspension, Paul Pierce was left to shoulder the load. And shoulder it he did, scoring 36 to help the Cs get the job done. In a big blow for the Hawks, superstar forward Josh Smith could be out for the rest of the series with a knee injury.

Chicago vs Philadelphia

Usually it’s the losing team that has to make all the adjustments coming in to Game Two. Yet it was the absence of Derrick Rose that meant thatt the Bull were grasping for answers. Without their superstar, the Bulls looked leaderless at times, with neither Boozer or Deng stepping it up. Noah did all he could to make up for the scoring, as he put in 21 points on 10-11 shooting. But it was Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams who won it with 26 and 20 respectively.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver

The Lakers ceratinly look like they’re clicking at the perfect time of the year as they took a two match lead in their series with the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant scored 38 in his best playoff performance since 2010 while Bynum had a career playoff high with 27. Lakers are certainly looking scary and the Nuggets are in serious danger of a sweep.

Celtics vs Hawks: Game One

Atlanta win: 74-83 (Atlanta lead 1-0)

Josh Smith had 22 points and pulled down 18 boards as the Atlanta Hawks took full advantage of their home court as the won their first game of the series against the Boston Celtics. Kirk Hinrich provided a big lift, giving the Hawks a 12 points on 4-6 shooting from downtown. The Hawks jumped out to a big lead early and were only just able to fend off a determined Celtics fight back.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

The Celtics did not hit a single three as Ray Allen continued to sit out with his bung ankle. The C’s certainly missed his presence as they did not hit a three for the game. Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 11 assists before being ejected after a stoush with a referee. Perhaps the most important decision that will be made in this series is whether the league decide to suspsend Rondo. Kevin Garnett had 20 points as well.

“I was upset about the call, and I said something [to Davis]. As I was walking I thought he stopped, and my momentum carried me into him. It’s out of my control [whether he’s suspended]. My teammates all thought that I was obviously in the wrong. They may see that I bumped him, but I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. I know the rules.”
Rondo.

It’s doubful whether this loss will effect a veteran team like the Celtics that much. They’ve been in this situation and know that it is not the be all and end all. The return of Allen is essential as it opens up lanes and shots for all others as they have to stick right on Ray. No help will be coming from the two guard as Allen will hit that shot with an iota of space. No injuries for either side.

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

(All times American)

Chicago (1)  vs. Philadelphia (8)

Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., ABC
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Chicago at Philadelphia, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD, TNT

Not to long ago, this playoff series didn’t really seem likely. The Sixers were much higher in the standings then their current 8th seed position and were looking to prove that a team could win without a true superstar in their lineup. This does not look likely to present much of a challenge to the Bulls, as there really is no “No Rose, no Bulls argument”. If Rose does start to prove a factor, as he surely will, Andre Iguodala may play some defence on him, much like LeBron James did at times. Perhaps one of the keys here will be that. Elton Brand against Carlos Boozer will be another key match up, with the two veteran forwards likely to have to score highly for their respective teams. Bulls will get the win here

Miami (2)  vs. New York (7)

Game 1 – Sat. April 28, New York at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, New York at Miami, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thu. May 3, Miami at New York, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Miami at New York, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, New York at Miami, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Miami at New York, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, New York at Miami, TBD

Possibly one of the more exciting match ups of the Eastern Conference. Great contests at multiple positions and superstars littered all over the place. The highlight will no doubt be the competition between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the two 2003 alumni likely wanting the win over their compatriot. Both teams love to get out on the fast break, but its not secret that a big step towards stopping the Miami Heat is halting the run of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Amare Stoudemire’s play against Chris Bosh will be interesting to see, with Bosh having to deal with the physicality of Stoudemire, something he has shown in the past to dislike. Tyson Chandler’s shot blocking and ability to fill up the paint will also be essential in stopping the drives of Wade and James. Possible upset, but Miami likely to get the win.

Indiana (3)  vs. Orlando (6)

Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Orlando at Indiana, 7 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, Orlando at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Wed. May 2, Indiana at Orlando, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 4 – Sat. May 5, Indiana at Orlando, 2 p.m., ESPN
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Orlando at Indiana, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Indiana at Orlando, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, Orlando at Indiana, TBD

Injuries will definitely be the determining factor in this series. The Pacers have quietly gone about having a good season as they secured the number three seed and Dwight Howard’s injury will make their playoff run much easier. David West, Danny Granger and co. will have a much easier time scoring in the paint without Dwight’s intimidating presence in the middle. Howard is really the only defensively minded player on the Magic team and they will struggle without him. Hedo will have to turn back to clock and Ryan Anderson will need to play out of his skin to force David West to play defence all the way out of to the three point line if the Magic are able to fit the series win here. Unlikely though.

 

Boston (4) vs. Atlanta (5)

Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Boston at Atlanta, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Boston at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Atlanta at Boston, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4 – Sun May 6, Atlanta at Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Boston at Atlanta, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Atlanta at Boston, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Boston at Atlanta, TBD, TNT

Boston’s charge at the end of the season has them well place in this years playoffs. They avoid Miami and Chicago in the first round but the Hawks are no small hurdle to overcome in the first round. The Hawk duo of Josh Smith and Joe Johnson have been playing some of the best basketball of their careers, especially Josh Smith. But the suffocating defence and the inability of the Hawks to match up with Rajon Rondo should allow the Celtics to get the win here.  Ray Allen could play a key role as he comes back from extended injury, and if he’s playing off the bench will provide a huge spark. Celtics to get the win here

Western Conference previews up before too long!

 

Atlanta and Utah go one better

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

They couldn’t let them have it could they. Two days the ‘game of the year’ title rested in the hands of Minnesota and Oklahoma. Two short days. And then the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz decided to go one better. They decided to have four overtimes. Virtually a 6 quarter game. The 3rd longest game in NBA history. Sorry Wolves and Thunder fans, but this year’s title is virtually guaranteed to the Hawks and Jazz. Granted it didn’t have Kevin Durant’s buzzer beater, followed due by Kevin Loves huge shot to tie it. This was a true marathon.Three players were fouled out. 14 players spread over each team scored in double figures. Millsap, Pachulia, Jefferson, Harris and Smith all had double doubles. From a pure stat line point of view, this game was phenomenal. Milsapp, Jefferson and Smith all fouled out by the end of the game. There were buzzer beaters everywhere, clutch threes from a multitude of players. Big shots were made by players from both teams.

Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson led the way for their teams, with 37 and 28 points respectively. Johnson was phenomenal for the Hawks, knocking down big shot after big shot, always there to hit the big shot for his team.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

 

Both of these games were phenomenal. We were lucky to have two of these games within a year, let alone in the same week! Let me know which one you thought was the better game and why.