Like it or not, the Hawks are playing good ball.
After struggling to close out ball games over the first 25-30 games of the season, the Hawks have suddenly begun to learn how to win. Since falling to 6-23 on December 15th, Atlanta has won 4 of their last 7 to reach 10-26. While this is still last in the NBA, the gap has closed and they sit only 1 game back of the LA Lakers and within 3 games of 9 teams.
After enjoying several days off for Christmas, the Wizards came to town. Washington has been plagued with issues of “playing down to their competition” all season long. This coupled with their highly emotional win over Boston on Christmas Day was recipe for disaster for them.
After a relatively close loss to a great Toronto team, the Hawks came back home and absolutely dominated the Blazers in the 2nd half.
The 2-2 week puts Atlanta at 10-26, still 15th in the East and 30th in the NBA but only by a tiny margin. The team is out west this week and most of next week of a 5 game western swing that is actually not too daunting.
12/27 vs Washington W 113-99
Wizards can’t follow up impressive Christmas win. Washington came to town after their huge victory over the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day. As John Wall stated pre-game, that win would mean nothing if they didn’t follow it up with win in Atlanta. Well John, I guess that win meant nothing because he and the rest of his teammates looked completely disinterested in playing Wednesday. After a sea-saw first three quarters, the Hawks exploded for 35 4th quarter points en route to victory. Dennis Schroder led the way with 21 Points and 7 Assists while Ersan Ilyasova continued his strong play as of late with 20 Points and 9 Rebounds. The Hawks had 6 players in double figures and also played a very clean game with only 11 Turnovers with their 28 Assists. For all the talking and calling out John Wall did before and after the game, he didn’t really show up on the court, scoring only 10 Points on 3-9 Shooting. Attendance: 15,763 (Sellout)
12/29 @ Toronto L 111-98
Raptors size smothers Hawks despite impressive effort. Earlier in the season, Toronto came in to Philips and completely dismembered the Hawks. Despite a 22 point deficit late in the 3rd quarter, the team did not lay down. Atlanta was able to cut the lead to 9 in the 4th quarter and nearly got a few shots to drop that would have made it even closer. Overall though, the Raptors size as depth was just unable to be matched by Atlanta. The Hawks were lead by Taurean Prince who had a career high 30 Points on 12-16 Shooting, 5-6 Three Point Shooting, 10 Rebounds, an Assist and 2 Blocks. Marco Belinelli had 14 and Dennis also had 14 but struggled from the field only shooting 6-20. Derozan led Toronto with 25. Former Hawk draftee Bebe Nougeria shined in the 4th quarter with 6 Points, 3 Rebounds and 2 Blocks. After the buzzer, Coach Bud and Coach Casey of the Raptors got into a profanity laden shouting match after a late basket by Toronto that should have been dribbled out.
12/30 vs Portland W 119-104
Hawks completely shut down Portland in 2nd half en route to 3rd straight home win. During the first half it was apparent that Atlanta was on the 2nd half of a back to back. The team seemed to lack energy and found themselves in a 8 Point hole at Halftime 52-44. As the 3rd quarter began, it seemed like Kent Bazemore’s energy became contagious. Everyone was flying around on defense, diving for loose balls and attacking the basket with purpose. The Hawks went on to outscore the Blazers 58-37 in the 2nd half in what ended up being a 15 point victory. Dennis Schroder played an amazing 2nd half netting 22 Points and dishing out 8 Assists. Marco scored 14 with Cavanaugh and Ersan adding 13 a piece. Baze and Prince chipped in 12 a piece to round out the Hawks double figure scorers. The Blazers were led by Shabazz Napier (21 Points) who continued his strong play in place of the injured Damien Lillard. Attendance: 15,877 (Sellout)
What’s Up Next
1/2 9:00 @ Phoenix (14-24)
The Hawks will find themselves victorious in what will be a high scoring battle. Dennis and Booker will both score 30+ as both teams eclipse 120. Prediction: Hawks 129 Suns 121.
1/5 10:00 @ Portland (19-17)
With Lillard back and the Blazers being at home they will gather revenge on the Hawks. Prediction: Portland rolls 115-101.
News and Notes
- In a surprising move to many, G/F DeAndre’ Bembry was sent down to the G-League after several un-inspiring performances as of late
- It is no secret that the Hawks are playing better lately, they now are just 3 GB of being 10 spots ahead in the league standings
- The January schedule in whole appears very “favorable” for wins, freighting many of the “tank happy” crowd, but the March schedule is downright brutal
- F/C Mike Muscala is listed as Probable (Ankle) for Tuesday’s game in Phoneix, his return will make Bud’s job very interesting rotation wise
- Dewayne Dedmon has been cleared for on court activities and could return in the next couple of weeks
- Watch for a couple of trades (Marco? Ersan? Dedmon?) in the coming weeks (Read more about that here)
- Attendance has improved this week with two sellouts. Capacity is 15,700 without the 400 section open. Hawks still rank 30th in number of fans but rank 18th (89.9%) if adjusted to % capacity
- Thinking of going to the Warriors game in March? Cheapest tickets are well over $100