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      Hawksquawk Premium Memberships & Donations   10/24/2015

      Want to help keep the lights on around here and the ads to a minimum?  Premium Memberships Become a Hawksquawk Premium Member (aka Hawksquawk Supporter) with packages starting as low as $5 per month. All donations go to maintain Hawksquawk in the present and help with upgrades for the future. Click here to access the store.  New Donations System Some of you have asked for this in the past and we now have a system in place to accept donations. These can be as small as .01 and as large as you want. For your convenience we have created a few standard donation amounts. You can be a big help by making a donation. All donations go to help supporting the site and adding new features plus supporting the existing ones. Click here to access the store A Hearty Thank You For those of you who have helped out Hawksquawk by making donations in the past we want to say thank you and of course very much appreciate any donations in the future as well but please do not feel obligated in any way. Please note that existing memberships will be converted over into the new system so please be patient as those have to be manually entered into the system. 
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      Banner ads and security questions   01/31/2017

      So as of today we have added Google Ads to the site in order to help with the rising costs of the Hawksquawk. All members without a current subscription plan will see ads but you can easily have them hidden if you get a membership, which starts as low $2.50 per month.  We also added security questions for your profiles to protect your personal and billing info. There are a handful of questions that you can choose from and it is mandatory to fill these out. Rest assured that all answers are encrypted in the database so they are not seen by anyone and will help to protect your account from being hacked.  Any questions please feel free to send a PM to Dolfan23

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  1. “Aww, c’mon Bud… I’m tryna tell you… they don’t serve Fellini’s Pizza out here!” Okay, Minnesota, you’ve had your fun. Now, cut it out. You and Houston, both. Sorry, Tankamaniacs, but it is Must-Win time for our Atlanta Hawks! There are only a handful of games where the Hawks genuinely can help their fans’ long-term cause by winning, and tonight’s tilt with the Timberwolves is one of them (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports North in MSP). You’ll remember that last season, the kings of The Process, Philadelphia, fell eight games short of securing the number-one draft lottery odds. The Sixers ended the season with lotto slot #4, slipped to #5 once the ping-pong balls bounced, then used a pick swap with Sacramento to sneak up to #3. But that still wasn’t #1. How did they wind up with the exclusive rights to select the youngster with the bulky shoulder and the free throw yips? They still had assets in their bag to sweeten any possible deal to move up. While it is a tall order, the Hawks might improve the quality of their draft assets with victories in their three games remaining versus the T’Wolves and Rockets. Atlanta holds Minnesota’s first-round pick thanks to the nifty 2015 move to deal 2014’s #15 pick Adreian Payne, whose attempt at directing a sequel to Love and Basketball in his dorm room apparently didn’t go over very well, before that first-round banana could change color from green to brown. That Wolves pick is lottery-protected, but 45 wins is all that should be needed to sew up a playoff spot out West, and there is little reason for this game to be among the baker’s dozen of requisite Ws for postseason-starved Minnesota (32-20). From Memphis to Sacramento, NBA teams are sending all the signals they reasonably can to make it clear they’re fighting for the bottom-dwelling lottery spot. Even after losing three in a row, Atlanta remains the hottest team over the past ten games among the NBA’s bottom-five. But even if the Hawks fail upwards a little, they have assets that no other bottom dweller, save for Phoenix and Philly, has at their disposal to creep up a spot, or three. Many of the lottery teams will need to pull out multiple rookie plums out of this draft pie, not just one good prospect, to begin turning things around, and they will be keeping Travis Schlenk’s cellie buzzing. “U up?” Schlenk and Company can package one, or both, of those low-first-rounders owed by Minnesota and Houston, and even a high second-round pick. In case LeBron World falls to tatters, Atlanta’s got a top-10-protected potential lottery pick from Cleveland in 2019 as well. They could even use some permutation of those three lower picks to ascend to the middle tier of this draft. It’s apparent, sadly, that the Rockets’ first-rounder will hover around the high-twenties through the end of the season. So, it would be nice if the Wolves’ low-first (presently at #25) could somehow slide up into mid-1st territory. No awareness of that strategery makes it easier for the Hawks (14-35) to pull off a fifth-consecutive win over a Western Conference opponent tonight, although one can forgive Minnesota if they’re a bit preoccupied, with playing in Toronto tomorrow and navigating whatever travel issues await once they return home for Super Bowl Weekend. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s club is 3-5 on the front end of back-to-back series, most recently losing last Wednesday in Portland the day before traveling to Golden State. They’ve only swept one of their seven back-to-backs, a homestand against Dallas and Charlotte back in early November. Even if the Hawks rev up the Competititank and fall short tonight, they can at least tenderize these Wolves on behalf of the Raptors. Thibs’ reputation of riding his star players for heavy minutes precedes him. True to form, Jimmy Butler (team-high 21.7 PPG, career-high 50.4 2FG%) places 5th in per-game minutes among active players, while Andrew Wiggins (career-low 50.8 TS%) is 10th, and Butler’s fellow All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns (career-highs of 9.2 D-Rebs/game, 40.0 3FG%, 83.8 FT%), ranks 14th. 32-year-old Taj Gibson (career-high 33.7 MPG), a Thibs acolyte, is essential for keeping the Wolves’ sketchy team defense (24th in D-Rating) from falling through the floor. Also logging career-high floor-time under Thibodeau: former Hawk floor leader Jeff Teague (33.4 MPG), who turns 30 this June. As was the case with Dennis Schröder during Jeff’s latter years in Atlanta, Teague at least has a precocious up-and-comer backing him up in 21-year-old Minnesota native Tyus Jones (6-for-8 FGs, 5 assists, no TOs in Saturday’s home win vs. BKN). Jones has held the fort capably as a starter, with Minnesota going 6-4 during Teague’s injury absences. The elder guard is under contract through at least next season, but Jones’ vastly improved defensive production (2nd in Defensive RPM, 5th in total RPM among NBA PGs, as per ESPN) has many wondering how soon the heir will become apparent. Versus Atlanta, Thibs will be as inclined as ever to go deep into his rotation and rely on his bench corps in the middle frames. Minnesota will turn to Jones, Gorgui Dieng, future MMA star Nemanja Bjelica, and the irrepressible former Hawk Sixth Man of the Year Award winner, Jamal Crawford, the 37-year-old who would actually like to be on the floor a lot more often (18.9 MPG, lowest since his 2000-01 rookie season). Former North Clayton High and Georgia Tech star Marcus Georges-Hunt has also been seeing more than mere mop-up duty lately. Coach Bud will likely showcase more of North Star State native Mike Muscala (career-high 6.3 PPG, 44.1 3FG%, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 FTs/game, and 0.6 SPG all you GMs out there!) Hawks fans can expect to see more of guard Tyler Dorsey, who acquitted himself as well as anybody (team-high 14 points, incl. 6-for-7 FTs, plus 4 assists) on Saturday against the Wizards, not only tonight but especially after the trade-deadline smoke clears. For the Hawks’ starters and reserves, the key task is simpler said than done: under no circumstances do you foul Crawford (team-high 89.9 FT%; 18.7 PPG last 3 games). Jamal okey-doked a Blazers defender last week to extend his personal record to 52 four-point plays in his career. Keeping Crawford, Butler and the Wolves (NBA-high 19.7 FTs/game) away from the charity stripe can short-circuit their offense and keep the Hawks in the running, even during Atlanta’s more scattershot-shooting phases (27.9 3FG% in Saturday’s blowout loss to wide-open Washington; under 35 3FG% in four of last six games). Facing his former mentor after two consecutive clunkers, Dennis Schröder (30.8 FG% last 2 games) should be able to collect some more gotheeeems and lob-dimes versus a Minnesota squad that can be porous around the rim (NBA-worst 67.0 opponent restricted-area FG%). That should be the case if Dennis smartly uses screens and DHO’s to grant himself space from Teague and/or Butler, and if the action from bigs like John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon and Moose is strong enough to draw Towns (1.5 BPG) further away from the hoop. If Atlanta can continue to even up the points in the paint (only a 36-38 deficit versus the Wizards) tonight, and if the Hawks do a better job of closing out on shooters without fouling, they can give the Timberwolves a run for their draft slot. I mean, money. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  2. CAUTION: Watch for falling wolves! ~lw3
  3. Kris Dunn's time starts a little earlier than expected? ~lw3
  4. “It’s the Andrew Wiggins Show! Brought to you by your friends at Toothpaste!” Can we at least do better than the Sixers? The Minnesota Timberwolves have banded together away from home, their 5-2 road record including a 117-107 win in Atlanta on November 9, an OT victory in Chicago, a double-digit win in Miami, and two losses by a combined margin of seven points. Here at the Target Center, site of tonight’s rematch with the Hawks (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports North), they’ve been a mirror image of themselves. The Wolves (6-8) were 0-6 in front of their home crowd, coming into Monday’s action. They then found themselves down 13 in the first half, then six points with five minutes to go, against a deliberately winless Philadelphia team that ended their 0-17 spell in this same building last year. Thankfully, Philly said, “Sike!” once again. Two nights after bailing Miami out from a 17-point second-half deficit, they gifted Minnesota 20 points in the final five minutes to let the Wolves off the hook. After starting off the season playing well on the road, the Hawks have dropped their last three away games, and know they must put in a better 48-minute collective effort than the Suxers did to avoid stretching the skid to four. While it took a minute, Wolves fans were treated to a howling good time at the close of Monday’s comeback victory, thanks to Andrew Wiggins. His 15 fourth-quarter points brought him to within a point of the career-high 33 points he enjoyed at Philips Arena a couple weeks ago. Wiggins’ assertiveness on forays to the rim drew attention away from his teammates, and he made his opponents pay when he dished the ball off a drive to a struggling Kevin Martin for the game-clinching three-pointer. Wolves coach Sam Mitchell moved K-Mart II back into the starting lineup, hoping it would spark the former high-scoring wing to get beyond his shooting woes. He made two of his five attempts from downtown in Atlanta, but on the rest of the season is 7-for-31, contributing to a career-low 36.5 FG%. Until now, Smitch could turn to stretchy rookie big Nemanja Bjelica (3-for-5 3FGs, 4 assists @ ATL) and Zach LaVine (yes, Lavine: 38.3 3FG%) when he needed sparks of perimeter firepower off the bench. But with Bjelica having missed the past two games with knee soreness and questionable for tonight, Minnesota (last in 3s made and attempted; 27th in 3FG%) needs to lean on Martin more. It was a rough outing on Monday for Karl-Anthony Towns (6 points, 2 rebounds with foul trouble) in his first head-to-head with Philly’s Jahlil Okafor (25 points, 12 rebounds). He’ll try to make up for it with a repeat of his performance in Atlanta (17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) a couple weeks ago. Behind Wiggins (15-for-22 FGs), KAT and an active bench, the T’wolves were able to overwhelm the Hawks to the tune of a 72-point first half. Atlanta (10-6) will need a stronger defensive effort keyed by Al Horford, who had light work on Dikembe Mutombo Night (11 points, 4 rebounds, one finger-waggable block) but faced little resistance from Jared Sullinger (7 points and 5 boards). Mike Muscala blocked a pair of shots but was otherwise ineffective off the bench, so we’ll see if Edy Tavares eats away at the minutes of Roseville’s Finest tonight, while Tiago Splitter continues to rest his hip. Jeff Teague (16 points, 9 assists, 3 turnovers) was a fairly steady influence in his return to the starting lineup yesterday, a contrast to an erratic Dennis Schröder (1-for-7 FGs, four assists, 5 TOs vs. BOS). Teague’s defense on a flustered Isaiah Thomas (1-for-6 2FGs) was noteworthy, a good sign heading into his meeting tonight with a different class of lead guard in Ricky Rubio. The Hawks will want to impede Rubio’s penetration, without fouling, and close out on the recipients of his passes, forcing somebody else to make plays. Without Rubio or Bjelica dishing the rock, the rest of the Wolves have an assist-turnover ratio of 0.98. Schröder fits many of the characteristics of a player who will get needled by Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett. That’s a good thing if it’s during the flow of the game and Dennis is playing better, since it will take KG’s defensive attention away from the multi-talented Paul Millsap (10-for-13 2FGs, 9 rebounds last night). Schröder needs to find his open bigs on his dashes to the glass. Filling in for Hawks starter Kent Bazemore, Thabo Sefolosha had a pretty complete game last night (7-for-8 FGs, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks), and it’s good to have some help off the bench from rookie Lamar Patterson (3-for-5 3FGs, career-high six rebounds) in his third consecutive game of 20-plus-minutes. After playing just briefly yesterday, Justin Holiday is likely to get into the act tonight to help relieve Kyle Korver (team-high 33 minutes, 3-for-3 3FGs vs. BOS) and Sefolosha. Tim Hardaway, Jr. was thrilled to be back on the floor last night and may get some burn again as well. Two-way production from a deep bench could make a difference for Atlanta in tonight’s game. Mitchell is struggling to find defensive answers between Gorgui Dieng, LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Andre Miller, and Damjan Rudez, which is another reason Tayshaun Prince was relegated in favor of Martin. In the aftermath of coach Mike Budenholzer’s incidental ref-bump and subsequent fine, it’s no coincidence that Atlanta was whistled for a season-tying 25 personal fouls on Tuesday, sending the Celtics to the line for 26 free throw shots. The Wolves (28.1 FT attempts per game, 4th in NBA; 79.9 FT%, 5th in NBA) will be thankful for some favorable calls, especially the tenacious Garnett, Wiggins and Martin. The Hawks’ ballhandlers and screen-setters must avoid the risk of offensive foul calls that will slow down the game in Minnesota’s favor. Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  5. He's baaaaaaaaaack! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_XhQPasGqk ~lw3
  6. Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio could miss two months with ankle injury http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/twolves/2014/11/08/ricky-rubio-minnesota-timberwolves-left-ankle-injury/18715893/ ~lw3
  7. I know the pickings are getting slim, but c'mon! ~lw3
  8. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/timberwolves-budinger-knee-injury-184311381--nba.html ~lw3
  9. Last big-time free agent is FINALLY off the board. My James Johnson Watch starts now. ~lw3
  10. ...but would they do THAT? http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2013/05/29/kotoch-mock-draft-3-0-1-cavs-would-move-no-1-pick-for-kevin-love/ ~lw3
  11. and Flipped! http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Report_Wolves_fire_David_Kahn_Flip_Saunders_to_replace_him042613 ~lw3