As part of the NBA League Pass broadband subscription, you get to choose five teams to have access to all non-blackout broadcasts. It’s tough deciding on which teams to choose. You must do so strategically with favorite players, teams, time zones, non-local, and ignore the national tv darlings (since you get those anyways). I reside in Denver, so a later start exciting team was already on the list thanks to altitude. I am an Atlanta Hawks fan at heart so they’re in. Plus…
Last off-season, the Hawks ownership brought in new leadership. The newly appointed Danny Ferry instantly threw his name in the GM of the Year award race by putting the Hawks in position to still contend and have major cap room this summer. Gone is the albatross of Joe Johnson’s contract and the shadow that could have been Chris Paul, Marvin Williams. With only five players remaining from last year’s team and only one of them on a non-expiring deal, it was going to be an interesting season. The Hawks got off to a fast start, winning 14 of their first 20, and have been streaky ever since. The record going into tonights matchup with the Pacers is 39-31. Tempo should be a major factor in Indy tonight as the Pacers look to slow the ball down and are 28-8 at home this season. The word on style of play out of training camp was that the Hawks would look to push the pace and play at a quicker tempo than previous years. A given now that ISO-Joe is gone. While the pace has been quicker than last years, up to 94.1 from 92.4, they still are among the bottom half of the league. The team manages to stay in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race fighting through trade rumors and uncertainty of the future for everyone except Al Horford and rookie John Jenkins. Even Larry Drew is coaching for his job. The Hawks won’t look the same next year, but this year’s team has been playing entertaining team basketball for a change and it’s been a welcome one.
Reasons To Watch
Development of Jeff Teague
Teague is a restricted free-agent this summer and he has been forcing the Hawks to give serious thoughts on how high of an offer they can match. With elite athleticism Teague can get to the bucket at will, but control tends to be his main issue. Since Lou Williams knee injury, Jeff has stepped up having a huge February and has managed to play well in March – as well, even though he has been a bit injured. Here are a few examples of the potential that Teague has off the dribble:
Called for a charge but DAMN.
Blows by Westbrook and finishes over Durant.
Josh Smith and Al Horford’s Pick and Rolls (And Josh’s unique abilities)
Being undersized, the Hawks frontcourt still produces in a big way. Horford and Smith carry the team on a nightly basis and usually with little recognition on the national or even local scene. After being snubbed for the All-Star game and events the duo has been on a tear in the second half, especially Al Horford. The sweet shooting big man has a TS% of 56.5 on the season trailing Chris Bosh and Tyson Chandler for third amongst starting centers. The midrange game Horford brings to the table coupled with Josh’s passing ability and decent handles makes for a nice big on big pick and roll at the free throw line and elbows. The defense typically tries to switch the action which Horford often takes advantage of by slipping between both defenders for an easy lob.
Larry Drew has done a nice job of using this out of timeouts and even though teams have scouted and know it’s coming, it is still quite effective. Josh has also jacked up his fair share of unnecessary jumpers at the beginning of the action, so I can see why Drew is hesitant to rely on this more often. As long as Josh continues to throw down those classic lefty tomahawks I am okay with a few bad jumpers a game.Well sometimes.
Backdoor from Horford.
Game Clincher and Bad Intentions on Brook Lopez.
And his jumpshot misses are usually noteworthy, ending last season.
Even his free throws are an adventure.
Last but not least: IVAN the TERRIBLE!!!!!!
I take a small amount of pride in the fact that Ivan might just be the scariest person in the league, other than Metta World Peace. He has admitted to not knowing anything about others in the league outside a few stars. He takes shit from no one and wears a gold grill during the game. In a time when the league is as squeaky clean as it’s ever been, I’m glad Ivan found a home in the A. He has a unique story and faced quite a few hurdles on the way but he has been a steady contributer off of the bench and gives the team some much needed toughness.
Debut vs. Miami last season. The beginning of a terrible reign.
No one is safe or at least no backboard.