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Found 14 results

  1. Quinn Cook is an Omri-vore! ~lw3
  2. “I Can’t Feel My Feet When I’m With You…” Under cover of night, the Atlanta Hawks made their daring Escape From Sacramento in time for tonight’s rematch with the world-champion Golden State Warriors (10:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, NBC Sports Bay Area in SFO). Assuming the fans can make it into the arena this time, the burning question is: who’s suiting up? Whoever becomes our draft lottery prize this summer, get you a star who, when he announces his switch to low-cut sneakers, it makes the national news. “Stephen Curry to play in Under Armour low-tops for the first time,” ESPN breathlessly reported yesterday evening ahead of today’s game at Oracle Arena. The Babyfaced Assassin expects to return to action while still dealing with tenderness in his sprained, “definitely not 100 percent”, right ankle. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? “It is kind of ironic that I made the switch this season considering my ankle issues,” noted Curry, who missed the past six games while enjoying (just saying! I’ve learned my lesson!) his 30th birthday, “but this shoe is stable and engineered to maximize my performance. I will still wear my ankle braces, but I have total comfort and security in my new shoe.” We shall see. Back when the young guard outta Davidson was scurrying around Oakland with fishtail legs, the Warriors turned to Keke Lyles to straighten him out. For the past several seasons, Lyles has been dutifully occupied with the trunks of Atlanta players, as the Hawks’ executive director of player performance. So, these days, Lyles gets to oversee players like the brutally durable Dennis Schröder (career-high 22.6 points per-36, career-low 3.1 TOs per-36), who needs to be a “healthy scratch” in order to miss tip-offs. Kent Bazemore might disagree, Steph (21 of 71 games missed this season), but the solution to your aggravations might not be the kicks. The Dubs’ Death (Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green) and Dying from Laughter (JaVale McGee) Lineup started coming apart at the seams almost as soon as Curry (an uncanny 59.2 2FG%, to go with his 42.4 3FG%) was put on the shelf. Klay fractured a thumb a few days later, and Splash Bro 2 remains out for another week or so. Days after that, KD cracked a rib, and he sits as well. Perhaps getting his Three Amigos move on a little too aggressively, Draymond became the next to hit the IR with a pelvic contusion. It has reached the point where Coach Steve Kerr will be thrilled just to get Omri Casspi (sprained ankle) back on the floor. The Dubs (53-18) have gone 2-4 since losing Curry, mustering just 75 points on Monday in a 14-point loss to a San Antonio team that has one huge, lingering injury issue of its own. Former Hawks preseason notable Quin Cook got his Isaiah Taylor on against the Spurs (20 points, 5 assists). But it’s clear from starting Cook and Nick Young together that there’s still not enough offensive firepower to compete against decent teams, on most nights, without Golden State’s Monstars available. Cook (hand contusion), Zaza Pachulia and isoBaze thief Andre Iguodala (shoulder contusions) and Patrick McCaw (wrist fracture) were all questionable going into Monday’s game, but all played, each one aside from McCaw in the starting lineup. Starting at center today will not be our old friend Zaza, nor will it be McGee. It will be Jordan Bell, the 6-foot-9 rim-protecting second-rounder who has Chicago Bulls brass kicking themselves. Bell (.184 WS/48, 4.4 Box Plus/Minus, 1.1 VORP, 18.2 PER) is arguably the sole 2017 draftee neck-and-neck with Atlanta first-rounder John Collins (.155 WS/48, 1.4 BPM, 1.3 VORP, 19.1 PER; questionable for tonight with his sprained ankle) in terms of efficiency metrics. Bell’s first start since mid-January is not merely a reward from Kerr for enduring what Bell described to pregame reporters today as a, “roller coaster, up and down” season. The Warriors had three days off entering tonight’s game, the opener of a four-game homestand, but Kerr wants the regular season minutes for his vet backup big men (Pachulia, McGee, David West) carefully metered out. They get to close out their schedule with a bunch of playoff-hungry outfits (Utah twice, OKC, New Orleans, Indiana, Milwaukee). Kerr wants his team trending up, as healthy players return and as they approach Game #82. So, don’t expect Kerr’s playoff-prepping bigs to be out here wrangling excessively in the paint with the likes of Dewayne Dedmon (a smooth 13-and-10 last night), Miles Plumlee and Tyler Cavanaugh. That task will fall heavily upon Bell and Looney tonight. While the Dubs have some gimmes on the docket like the pesky Hawks, two games against division-rival Phoenix will be on back ends of back-to-backs. The last loss before the Spurs game was a Tank-buster last Friday night, here at Oracle, at the “expense” of the Kings. Sacramento overwhelmed the remnant Warriors with the buddy-movie team of Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere (combined 8-for-14 3FGs off the bench). That was essentially the same team that the Hawks, without Schröder, successfully held serve with for two-and-a-half quarters last night, before the Kings finally pulled away. Golden State has a chance to further sew up the #2 seed (and avoid a premature playoff meeting with the Rockets) with a win today. In that regard, they can't afford to mess around with Atlanta (21-51), especially given their inherent homecourt and rest advantages. Final issue: Will Steph get invited to Damion Lee’s bachelor party? That’s always uncomfortable, towing the future bro-in-law all around Vegas with the Day-Ones, just to keep the future missus in good graces. I know this well, I’ve seen it in the movies. Things could get even more Hawkward if Curry returns to hang a 40-burger on Atlanta and its newest starter, who just signed his second 10-day deal this afternoon. Still, I figure Lee will find a way to accommodate Curry on his party bus. But given the tenuous state of Steph’s ankles, Damion, make sure that thing comes equipped with a lift. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  3. “Is Joe a schlub? Maybe. But he’s OUR schlub, fans, c’mon!” “BOOOO! SELL THE TEAM, YOU MORON! YOU SUCK!” Barely two seasons into his tenure, things weren’t going terribly well for the owner of the reigning world champion Golden State Warriors, who pay our Atlanta Hawks a visit tonight (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, NBC Sports Bay Area in SFO). Only six years ago this month, Joe Lacob approved the trade-away of the Warrior fans’ heart-and-soul. A second-round pick who would become the NBA’s Most Improved Player two seasons in, Monta Ellis was the long-term investment that, by his seventh season, seemed to be paying off, the occasional moped incident aside. Fans unilaterally understood, if ever their team could arrive at the elusive Shangri-La known as the NBA Finals, or even just the playoffs, it was essential to build the roster around a high-scoring, playmaking guard like Ellis. Alas, Dubs, Inc. didn’t seem to share that sentiment. Not exactly, anyway. At the trade deadline in March 2012, Monta, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was sent packing to Milwaukee, in exchange for the talented and occasionally upright center Andrew Bogut. The trade didn’t necessarily spoil a possible playoff run, what would have been just the second in the franchise’s prior 16 seasons. The last one, in 2007, was a magical carpet ride guided by Baron Davis, and Ellis was looking the part of an heir apparent once Davis bolted for L.A after the following season. The momentary success from the 2007 We Believe season never sustained itself. The playoff appearance before that one was in 1994, back when the fellow being honored at halftime on this cool March evening, Chris Mullin, led the charge. This night was supposed to be about Mully. And it was, right up until Lacob tried to partake in the good vibes, after Mullin thanked the crowd, to reveal the jersey banner. By then, We Believe had become We Berate. Monta's Move had gone over about as well as a guy working on his golf swing in a hotel room. “Now that we got that over with…” Lacob snidely remarked, after allowing the din of disdain to die down once he grabbed the mic. “Today is about history… and respect.” Bump that! What kind of history had Lacob (and his even more-reviled predecessor, Chris Cohan) built up with to earn respect from the long-suffering ticketholder mob? Where’s the respect for Monta? BOO! Keeping his speech in line with pro-wrestling heel protocol, Lacob interrupted himself and put the mic down, in fading hope that the crowd might encourage each other to simmer down. Not happening. The Guest of Honor stepped forward to try and save Lacob’s forlorn face. “Sometimes, change is inevitable,” Mullin remarked, speaking somewhat directly to the elephant in the room. “It’s gonna work out just fine.” When the good-cop approach didn’t work, the one guy in the arena with a Warriors championship ring took matters into his hands. “Show a little bit of class!”, derided Rick Barry, incidentally one of the least classiest greats in the history of the league. Yeah, Rick, we’ve been down this stay-classy road already, take your pleas down to San Diego. “This is crazy! Seriously! C’mon, you’re doing yourself a disservice!” No, Rick, trading away a 25-point scorer that you’ve developed over seven years for a potentially washed bag of bones? THAT is a disservice. BOO! HISS! HISS! It was amazing the Warriors’ brass ever got through the ceremony. But you could see how their dedicated fanbase was past its boiling point. They had been sold bills of goods on draftees Chris Washburn, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Chris Webber, Joe “Yes, we tanked for him” Smith, Adonal Foyle, Antawn “Shoulda Just Kept Vince” Jamison, Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant, Ekpe Udoh, all of them top-ten NBA picks spanning 25 years. Each, including Mullin, was the lottery pick that was supposed to help the team turn the corner toward NBA greatness. They’ve endured the handing of the franchise keys to C-Webb, to Run TMC, to Spree, to Tawn, to J-Rich, to B-Diddy. It’s now 2012: Old Man Kobe and the Lakers are running laps around these division “rivals”. The once-equally downtrodden Mavericks just won a title, and even the Clippers – the Clippers! – are finally starting to get their act together. The latest Warriors Savior is gone, and everyone is still tapping their toes, pointing at their watches. One guy who couldn’t make it to these proceedings? Wardell Stephen Curry II. The third-year guard had just suffered yet another ankle injury days before, this one season-ending. Say, couldn't we have just traded one bag-of-bones (Curry) for another (Bogut) and kept Monta around? Guess who was in the building that day? Klay Alexander Thompson. The rookie hadn’t started more than a game yet. Nice fella, he just can’t carry a team anywhere. Lose just a couple more games at the end of last season, and we coulda had Jimmer instead! Darn that Curry kid, out here spoiling things. All this losing, all this pseudo-tanking, all this cycling through middling talent. When, pray tell, are we going to draft ourselves a real, bonified Savior? This was Warrior fan thinking in 2012, when the notion of Splash Brothers was still in the nascent stages. What if Lacob could have told the crowd: “Listen, I know you’re unhappy. But that broke-down guard we drafted a few years ago? He’s gonna win back-to-back MVP awards, and soon! Your Savior is still here on the roster, folks. He’s gonna join forces with our mid-tier lotto rookie, from this past year, to form a backcourt tour-de-force the world has never seen before! Your next NBA Finals MVP? I got a guy named Schlenk upstairs who will be bringing him over in a couple years.” “That center you’re all bitter-beer-faced about right now? What if I told you him getting injured is the ONLY reason you fall one win short of a three-peat? In a season where we win over 70 games! 70! We'll be half-a$$ing it and still be 48-14 six years from now!" "This very summer, people, we’re drafting one of the greatest defensive non-centers of all time… in the second round! Not only that, how about this: that player will help us woo a future league MVP to become our MVP of our NEXT victorious NBA Finals… you know, the one after the LAST Finals MVP, who will still be here?” “Show of hands, who wants to sign up for all that? Okay? Then, all of you, shut your pieholes, give it a minute, and thank me later! Go f’n Warriors!” Mic drop. Banner raise. There will be no scintillating analysis of tonight’s Hawks-Warriors matchup. Not on this glorious March afternoon. But I do want Hawks fans, particularly the skeptics about management, ownership, and The Way Forward, to look at the Dubs not with the prism through which we see them today, but the looking-glass Dubs fans peered through, disapprovingly, just six years ago. A rebuild of our beloved Hawks (19-43) remains the right move. But we should all understand by now, tear-downs and rebuilds can be tenuous, cyclical, frustrating, and downright exhausting. They usually don’t pay off quite the way you anticipate, if they do at all. Just ask a Warriors fan. Not one of these new-jack johnny-come-latelys flaunting jerseys in Philips Arena today, no. Talk to the older-school supporters, the ones who foresaw Monta Ellis’ abrupt departure as a harbinger of yet another decade full of terrible things to come. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  4. “Dray, did I ever mention that you did an awesome job in ‘Shrek’?” Happy Early Father’s Day! Almost every day is Father’s Day at Philips Arena, as opposing players are granted ample opportunities by the Atlanta Hawks to make their NBA-playing papas proud. After leaving former Hawk Glenn Robinson, Jr. beaming with pride yesterday, it’s likely that Mychal Thompson and Dell Curry will enjoy watching their kids’ Golden State Warriors (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, CSN Bay Area in SFO) become just the latest team to son the Hawks during Atlanta’s ill-fated homestand. Dell’s got the night off, with the Hornets game on TNT, while Mychal’s Lakers are on the road before playing in Dallas tomorrow. So maybe both should be in the building as the Splash Brothers aim to keep the nets wet at The Other Team’s Highlight Factory. Heck, it’s a good thing the son of another ex-Hawk, Wes Matthews, wasn’t around to put the lid on Atlanta (34-28) last Wednesday, after the Hawks coughed up another late-game lead. Perhaps the spawn of former Warrior Tim Hardaway, Sr. might have a say about things before all is said and done tonight. But it’s going to take a lot more than a hopefully hot hand to make a positive difference, especially against the NBA’s best offense. Junior Hardaway (60 points and four assists in last two losses) has done all he could offensively during this homestand to help drag his Hawks out of unnecessary holes. Perhaps too much at times, given his propensity for over-dribbling and taking desperation shots. The need to turn to Hardaway and Paul Millsap (50 points and 19 rebounds in last two games) for clutch scoring, unfortunately, has come at the expense of sound ball movement, or much legitimate movement at all. Their fourth-quarter offense has been less of a silver, and more of an aluminum lining, given how frequently the Hawks get roasted from outside. Flat-footed transition defenders, including Hardaway, left a backpedaling Dennis Schröder out to dry as the game hung in the balance. Atlanta defenders, who need to avoid giving up three-point daggers, instead strive to compensate for their bigs by converging around the paint, going for strips in anticipation of two-point shots, and getting caught Torch Red-handed. Atlanta foes get just 22.3 percent of their shots on layup/dunk attempts (3rd-lowest in NBA), but the Hawks must allow their quality interior defenders (Millsap and Dwight Howard, specifically) to earn their stripes without unnecessary help. Thanks (but no thanks) to swingmen distracted by stars in the paint, players like Robinson have made highlight reels out of the Hawks’ under-defended corners (40.9 opponent corner FG%, 6th-most in NBA; only team with winning record allowing over 40 percent). Schröder (7 assists, 1 TO vs. IND on Sunday) also got little help from his teammates on the offensive end, especially early (14 team assists through three quarters vs. IND). Once renowned for their motion offense, the Hawks (1.54 assist/TO ratio, 21st in NBA) have failed to produce more assists than their opponents in each of their last nine defeats. Tonight, they face a Warriors team that leads the league in assist-turnover ratio (2.1, only NBA team above 2.0), assist percentage (70.7% of baskets made, only team above 65) and assist ratio (21.4 assists per 100 possessions, only team above 20). The Dubs have hardly skipped a beat in these areas even after losing Kevin Durant last week, likely for much of the balance of the regular season. Kent Bazemore, a two-way dud (1-for-7 FGs, -17 plus/minus in 19 minutes) against the Pacers, along with Thabo Sefolosha and Hardaway, must be more mindful of the drive-and-kick threats than the Globetrotter dribble shots by Curry, whose recently-wayward jumper is only beginning to thaw. Beginning two weekends ago versus Brooklyn, and continuing through halftime of the Warriors’ visit to Madison Square Garden yesterday, Steph had gone just 33-for-102 from the field, 10-for-47 on threes. His opponents found it much easier to lay off Patrick McCaw and Matt Barnes, instead of Durant, to cover the Warriors’ greater threats. Curry finally shed the post-All-Star rust in the second-half (7-for-11 FGs, incl. three third-quarter triples) against Derrick Rose and the Knicks, to keep Golden State (51-11) from dropping three straight for the first time since Bazemore’s squad went on a brief losing streak in November 2013. Even without KD on the floor, Curry still has Thompson (29 points, 9-for-9 FTs, 4-for-9 3FGs vs. NYK), Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green at his disposal, to say little of Thompson (team-high 40.8 3FG%). Even when they get beaten off the dribble, Atlanta defenders must avoid over-pursuing Warrior ballhandlers and dare them to finish their circus shots inside. On-ball defenders like Schröder and Bazemore must go over screens religiously. Golden State’s offense can remain dry if they are deprived of open three-point attempts and cheap trips to the free throw line. Due to ankle synovitis, Atlanta doesn’t have the son of Mike Dunleavy, Sr. to help keep up in a shootout. Durant (25 points, 14 D-Rebs) was the sole Warrior capable of keeping Howard and Millsap (nine combined O-Rebs) off the offensive glass during the Dubs’ 105-100 win over visiting Atlanta on November 28. Continuous fullcourt pressure from the Hawks’ starting big men should prove taxing for former Hawk Zaza Pachulia, Green (team-high 40 minutes vs. NYK yesterday, 37.9 MPG in last four games), and David West, as well as the son of ex-WNBA player Pamela McGee. JaVale will particularly seek to step up his game in Shaq’s place of residence. It is Dwight’s responsibility to ensure that he (65.0 FG% during ATL homestand, but just 6.7 FGAs per game) is the Hall-of-Fame-caliber center worthy of McGee’s undivided attention. It will take a properly-disciplined Hawks defense (paging Coach Bud) to stay competitive with Golden State for four quarters and keep the game-clinching moments from becoming another family affair. Failing that, every perimeter defensive lapse is likely to cause Hawks fans to elicit nearly-incestuous cries of, “Oh, brother!” Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  5. “How Ya Like Me Now?” Gird your loins! One night after getting molly-whopped by a random NBA foe for the third time in the past four games, the Atlanta Hawks pick their beaks up off the floor to find the Golden State Warriors (10:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, CSN Bay Area in SFO) awaiting their arrival. Tonight, Atlanta is confronting the most talented, most exciting, most formidable basketball player known to mankind. We’re talking, of course, about Zaza Pachulia. Sure, we could spend time waxing poetic about the possibility that Draymond Green (team-highs of 9.0 RPG, 6.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, 1.6 BPG) may not be available to play, having twisted the ankle on his non-kicking leg while trying to avoid teammate Ian Clark’s Adam’s apple under the rim last Friday night at the Staples Center. After all, but for Green’s late-game heroics, the Hawks might have pulled off an upset over the Curry-less Warriors last season at Oracle Arena. Both Clark and Green sat out on Saturday, but the Dubs still held Minnesota at bay, 115-102, for their 11th straight victory. The only L in their past 15 games came against the same foes that vanquished Atlanta last night -- the Lakers, back on November 4 -- and they’ve beaten L.A. twice since. Green feels “pretty confident” he’ll suit up and play today. But there is no need to dwell on who is suiting up at forward for the Hawks’ opponent-du-jour, especially given the past two games have seen Atlanta (10-7) fall flat against a Utah team that was missing Derrick Favors, and a Lakers team that was absent Julius Randle. All-Star and leading scorer Paul Millsap’s inability to exploit mismatches versus inferior competition, whether by his own lethargic shortcomings (4-for-11 FGs and 5 rebounds in each of his past two games) or his teammates’ inability to keep the ball moving in his direction, has fueled the Hawks’ offensive swoon. You can toss in the early departure of Anthony Davis in last week’s flop versus the Pelicans for good measure, Millsap just 4-for-9 on field goals in 23 ineffective and short-leashed minutes. Atlanta is 9-0 when Paul posts a positive plus-minus. You can either feed the Anchorman, and reap the benefits of his production early and often, or just sit back and accept that the Hawks’ ship be sinking. We could focus on the Warriors’ impressive on-court efficiencies, ranked 1st in the NBA for offensive rating, field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, assist/turnover ratio, and assist percentage (franchise-record streak of 30+ assists ended vs. MIN on Saturday; franchise-record 47 assists vs. LAL last Wednesday), plus 2nd over the past week in defensive rating after experiencing some struggles out of the gate. A low-cost free agent acquisition, Pachulia swapping starting lineups with Andrew Bogut has contributed to Golden State ranking near the league’s basement (tied-27th) in D-Reb%, a factor the increasingly trolled Dwight Howard could use to his advantage if he’s got the energy to run the full floor. Alas, after making the Lakers (28th in D-Rating) look like defensive juggernauts in both the second and fourth quarters of play yesterday, and after allowing the low-scoring Jazz to look like the ’82 Nuggets in those same quarters, any further detail would be a waste of time. Over-reliant on Howard’s ability to protect the rim, the Hawks have relaxed on opposing ball handlers. Atlanta collected at least ten steals in each of their first six games, and in eight of their first ten contests. They’ve had just one double-digit tally in the last seven games, the exception being 11 steals in the win at Indiana. After failing to force double-digit turnovers in just six games in 2015-16, this season’s Hawks are already halfway there before the close of November, this following blowout losses to New Orleans and the Lakers (9 opposing-player TOs apiece). Worries about Stephen Curry swishing highlight-reel jumpers from Sausalito are pointless if Atlanta remains passive, failing to contest shots, drives, catches and passes from the perimeter. Kyle Korver looks like he could use a road map once he’s screened out of an opponent’s offensive play, while Kent Bazemore finds himself getting mouse-in-the-housed too often in isolation. That spells trouble when the Warriors space the floor out for Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, the latter the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week. The lack of quarterbacking from Dwight Howard and Dennis Schröder must be rectified for the Hawks’ starting unit to fix their defensive flaws. The Warriors (15-2) already look like the world-beaters they were designed to be. But Atlanta’s greatest challenge on the floor won’t be named Steph, or Kevin, or Kevon (Looney) or Klay, or Zaza. As of this moment, the Hawks’ greatest impediments to success are in their own heads. Some trepidation in the face of adversity can be expected from a roster with under-experienced components playing key roles, as is the case for Atlanta at the point. But it’s unacceptable as a lasting hallmark for an NBA team featuring three over-30 starters with significant playoff experience, under the direction of a lauded coach that should know by now how to make adjustments that stop opponent runs and keep games under control. Beating the Warriors tonight is secondary to a larger objective: the Hawks have to quit beating themselves. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  6. “FOUND: Something Steph Curry can NOT do well!” You wanna lock down a playoff spot in the East? Win your games on the road. Go all the way back to 1984, the first time NBA conferences carried eight teams into the playoffs, and you’ll find that among the Eastern Conference teams on the outside looking in, not one finished their season with an away-game record of 19-22 or better. For teams like the Atlanta Hawks (14-15 on the road), a winning road record makes the rest of the regular season schedule academic. This upcoming 5-game road trip is loaded with landmines, including tonight at the high-flying Golden State Warriors’ house (10:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast, NBATV, CSN Bay Area). But if the Hawks continue to shake free of their winter doldrums, take care of business against lesser teams, and pull off a big win or two, they can sew up their ninth-straight playoff appearance, in a nicer spot than most. The biggest issue for the Hawks going into tonight’s game in Oaktown? Trick-shot-artist extraordinaire-turned-MVP Stephen Curry is questionable to play, perhaps resting the twisted ankle he played through during Saturday night’s stunning overtime victory in Oklahoma City. Most threes in a game? Most threes in a season? Most buckets in the league this season from 30-feet-and-out? Most consecutive games with a three-pointer? All NBA marks established, re-established, and/or newly-shared by Curry in the past week alone. Not too bad! Why, his performances have become Abdul-Rauf-esque! Curry will at least be on-hand for a heroes’ welcome, as the Warriors return to Oracle Arena (24-0 at home, last home loss to Chicago on January 27, 2015) for the first time since February 9, completing their arduous cross-country, cross-All-Star-break trip in grand style. As much of a Steph infection that Curry (36 points on a personally tepid 14-for-22 shooting from the field, 5-for-11 on 3s @ ATL on Feb. 22) has inflicted upon the league, Atlanta probably prefers to gameplan for tonight hoping he’ll be on the floor, as his presence takes one less excuse for a letdown performance by the Hawks off the board. Head coach Steve Kerr’s staff must be aware that these Hawks have already blown games to teams missing the likes of Kyrie Irving, Jonas Valanciunas, Al Jefferson, Rudy Gay, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Hassan Whiteside. So sitting Curry at this juncture wouldn’t be a terribly risky decision. For the Hawks (33-27), the task ahead if Curry sits is making sure tonight doesn’t become The Shaun Livingston Show. Be it Curry, Leandro Barbosa or Livingston, Atlanta guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder must put Golden State’s floor leaders to work by maximizing their lateral movement. That’s done by compelling them to work through multiple screens on defense, or applying pressure on the ballhandler from halfcourt whenever the Warriors have the ball, working them toward the sidelines instead of the hoop. Heavy minutes for Livingston (2-for-14 on 3s in two seasons w/ GSW) would certainly take a three-point threat off the board. Thus, limiting his ability to post-up the Hawks’ guards, and to drive-and-kick outside to perimeter threats like Klay Thompson (41.3 3FG%) and Harrison Barnes (41.2 3FG%, 5-for-14 3FGs @ ATL), would be key to rendering his input negligible. Like Curry, sixth-man Andre Iguodala (hamstring) was shelved for today’s shootaround ahead of tonight’s game, although the likelihood is greater that Iguodala plays. The Hawks were successful in neutralizing point-forward Nicolas Batum in Sunday’s win over Charlotte, and similar principles should be in play here with Iguodala (3-for-12 FGs, 0-for-6 3FGs @ ATL), assuming he suits up, and Draymond Green (2-for-10 FGs, 0-for-4 3FGs, 4 TOs despite 14 rebounds and 9 assists @ ATL). Green has been less Donkey from Shrek, and more Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh lately. He’s been lashing out first at Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, then at coaches and teammates, as he has struggled to get good looks (28.1 FG% 0-for-9 3FGs) in the last four games of Golden State’s road trip. He’s been less effective of an interior shooter at Oracle Arena (49.3 2FG%) than on the road (53.7 2FG%). Paul Millsap and the Hawks’ forwards must disrupt his passing lanes and force tough shots without fouling. They must also be mindful of the need to crash the defensive boards and not getting caught ball-watching when Warrior shots are hoisted. Before outlasting the Hawks in ATL, the Dubs were torched by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (72 points, 12-for-16 3FGs) in Portland, then eked past the Clippers despite a combined 65 points by Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Redick. In Golden State’s next game, Atlanta’s starting backcourt of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver could only muster 20 points (2-for-9 3FGs) between them, leaving the heroics mostly to reserves Dennis Schröder and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (13-for-21 FGs, 30 points) as Atlanta crawled back into contention from 23 points down in the third quarter. Last week, Miami was able to gain a lead in the final minute against Golden State, thanks to Dwayne Wade’s 32 points and a 15-point (3-for-3 3FGs) effort from backup Josh Richardson. Russell Westbrook contributed a double-double (26 points, 13 assists) for the Thunder on Saturday and might have been able to put a lid on the Warriors in regulation, but for his 0-for-6 shooting on threes (2-for-16 FGs beyond 5 feet) plus seven turnovers. Outside shooting by the Hawks needs to be on-point, at least for early stretches during tonight’s game. Atlanta has become accustomed to wearing out opponents in the paint (+3.2 net PPG in-the-paint, 6th in NBA), in hopes the home-run perimeter shots (34.0% of 4th quarter shots being 3FGAs, 7th in NBA) will arrive in the fourth quarter. It worked out on Saturday when Kent Bazemore and Al Horford’s threes gave the Hawks the breathing room they needed against hard-charging Charlotte. But against Golden State, the outside jumpshots need to serve as the body blows to set up interior plays later. Post-waiver-wire acquisitions Kris Humphries and Anderson Varejao will be suited up and ready to play in a pinch, if needed. Both will help spell the rebounding gaps brought on by the respective injury departures of Atlanta’s Tiago Splitter and Golden State’s Festus Ezeli. In crunch-time situations, the Warriors have held opponents to a league-low 16.7 3FG%. But in those closing quarters, Warrior opponents score a league-high 47.4 points-in-the-paint per-100 possessions. That’s fine-and-dandy when the game is a laugher by then, or if Curry is around to serve as a late-game savior. But if Atlanta can successfully spread out Andrew Bogut (5 blocks @ ATL, incl. 3 crucial 4th-quarter swats at the rim as GSW pulled away) and Green early by making them work the defensive perimeter, those players will be less likely to deny cutters late. A surprising win, with or without a healthy Curry, would make for a nice start to what could be a momentous road trip for Atlanta. But as important as a road win, for the Hawks, would be a competitive effort from the jump. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  7. “I’m just keepin’ the COTY trophy warm for you, Steve!” BANG! Kyle Korver, from three-point land once more! That makes it a record 127 games in a row! It’s the kind of consistency we may never see out of an NBA player again! Whoops! Stephen Curry has hit a triple in all 52 of his appearances this season, and last went home with an 0-fer back on November 11, 2014 at the hands of those wascally Spurs. It’s highly likely Curry will get to 126-in-a-row tonight at Philips Arena, as his Golden State Warriors continue fine-tuning their record-shattering skills against the Atlanta Hawks (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast, NBATV, CSN Bay Area). While Steve Kerr’s Warriors haven’t come out of the All-Star Break firing at all cylinders yet, they’re cruising along with a NBA-best 49-5 record, while Mike Budenholzer’s Hawks (31-26) have looked rudderless far too often. The seizing of the Threak consecutive-game record is so expected at this point for the league’s reigning MVP, that nary a mention has been uttered of the man who, if only for a couple more days, holds the current one. Korver has had his share of lapses over the course of the season, but has managed to find a better groove from downtown with at least two three-pointers in each of his last six games (48.5 3FG% in that span). Facing a Splash Brothers dual threat, plus a dogged perimeter defense led by Andre Iguodala, Korver will need to find that level of consistency tonight, and get a lot more help than was available on Saturday, when Atlanta missed an abysmal, franchise-worst, 32 perimeter shots, leaving the door open all night and daring the Milwaukee Bucks to come charging through. The Bucks finally obliged in the second overtime session, and now the Hawks face losing their fourth-straight at the Dimbulb Factory for the first time since April 2007. The Chef has teased his legions of fans from time-to-time, most recently when he hit just one first-quarter three-pointer along the way to a 1-for-9 night versus the Thunder on February 6. But the Hawks need not overbear themselves with somehow shutting down Curry (league-highs 29.7 PPG and 67.4 TS%) from outside and preserving Korver’s place in the NBA annals. Jeff Teague (likely to play despite a wrist injury in Saturday’s loss), Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore, at turns, must keep a body in front of the dribbling maestro, both in halfcourt and in transition, and must not expect help defenders to bail them out. @NBASupes aptly spotted many occasions on Saturday, where poorly-contested dribble-drive penetration by Bucks forwards and guards alike caused breakdowns across the interior of the defensive floor, specifically when the Hawks helpers arrived and abandoned their boxout and defensive assignments around the rim. Curry is looking to score more often than not on drives from the outside (78.7 points per 100 drives, 4th most in NBA; 8.7 assist%, 32nd in NBA). And hero-ball isn’t the worst circumstance the Hawks can find themselves facing. Golden State is 40-0 when they exceed 25 assists in a game, a less-imposing 9-5 otherwise. With the Dubs in transition, Bazemore and Sefolosha also have to remain mindful of Klay Thompson (behind only Curry in threes made this season) and Harrison Barnes darting toward the corners. Golden State is 29-0 this season when they sink 40% of their three-point attempts. Contrasting with the Hawks’ doldrums, six of the Warriors’ eight most prolific three-point bombers are hitting shots above a 40-percent clip this season. Atlanta, by comparison, can boast only of Teague (40.4 3FG%) and Mike Scott (40.6 3FG%). Strong off-the-ball defense and forcing the Warriors’ ball-handlers to settle for isolated jumpers (and boxing the heck out) is the way to go. Four of GSW’s five losses (including one in Milwaukee) involved the team shooting below 41 percent from the floor for the contest. In a much more titanic visit to the ATL last year, Golden State got off 103 shots (with help from a season-high 19 O-Rebs), but could muster just 36.4 3FG% (non-Splash Bros 4-for-16 3FGs) while the Thabo-less Hawks were en fuego (55.6 3FG%, Korver/Bazemore/Scott/Teague combined 13-for-19 on threes) in a splendid high-paced affair that serves as the high-watermark of the Budcox Regime. The Hawks got off on a bad talon against Milwaukee as Teague (2-for-8 FGs, 0-for-2 3FGs, 5 assists) struggled to get the Hawks flowing offensively from the jump, leaving a lot of the heavy-duty lifting to a headstrong but eventually overwhelmed Dennis Schröder (25 points, team-high 8 defensive rebounds, 10 assists, 5 TOs). Schröder is eager to help the Hawks’ quasi-bigs fight for boards inside (as @Hawkmoor and others noted, 17 O-Rebs by the Bucks on Saturday helped them keep the lid open), but he cannot abandon his man before shots go up, without communicating that specific teammates need to rotate. Like the guards with Curry, and the wings defending the perimeter, Paul Millsap and Al Horford must play the interior as if they understand help isn’t coming. The ability for the Hawks to even stay in the contest tonight will involve a level of shooting proficiency from both Teague and Korver that disallows Curry (2.2 SPG, 4th in NBA) from sagging off to help force turnovers inside. On the first game back from their All-Star Break, Portland’s Damian Lillard (51 points, 9-for-12 3FGs, 6 steals, 7 assists, zero TOs) and C.J. McCollum (21 points, 3-for-4 3FGs, 7 assists) matched the Warriors’ pace and were unrelenting in a 137-105 victory that slowed Golden State’s roll just a bit. “Best center in the league!” joked master-of-all-trades Draymond Green (9.6 RPG, 7.3 APG), after he lofted shot-after-shot above DeAndre Jordan to help Golden State hang on to edge the Clippers at Staples on Saturday. As he prepares to face up against another super-versatile power forward in Paul Millsap, Green is likely to log plenty of time at the 5-spot again tonight. Andrew Bogut is missing time with a sore Achilles, while Festus Ezeli remains sidelined following arthroscopic surgery in January. The Hawks have to find a way to exploit the Warriors’ shorthanded interior defense. Defensively, Mike Muscala played well in a short stint against the Bucks. A rested Moose needs to show his antlers tonight when going head-to-head against Marreese Speights. Horford will continue to play from the high-post and the arc, but he must make quicker reads when the Warriors defense reacts to his threat of a jumpshot. His abilities to find cutters (Millsap, Bazemore, and Scott would be prime targets), set up Teague on dribble-handoffs, roll to the hoop, and find open options along the perimeter, makes him a focal point for keeping the Warriors guessing. When Green or Speights comes out of the paint to challenge, Horford has to think fast, and act faster. Same deal for Teague, and Korver, coming off of picks. A lack of instinctive play is among the most glaring elements of Atlanta’s offensive woes this season. Too much reading and insufficient reacting turns Budball into Badball, as opponents are becoming hip to the game when the Hawks decide to kick the ball back out or go cross-court. Against the Warriors’ precision, hesitation and second-guessing equals death. It’s clear that there is no outcome tonight that will mollify an understandably skeptical Hawks fanbase, particularly those crowded out by fans in Bandwagon Blue and Gold at the Highlight Factory. But a “Where has this been all season?” reaction would trump any others that fans could offer up by game’s end. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  8. Feel the force, Luke! ~lw3
  9. http://www.ibabuzz.com/warriors/2014/08/05/warriors-marreese-speights-arrested-driving-influence-tampa/ ~lw3
  10. Errybody tryna be Deep Throat these days? http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10855864/former-golden-state-warriors-assistant-fired-secretly-recording-conversations At least the Clippers won't be the only team coming into tonight's game a bit distracted today. ~lw3
  11. Oakland Raided... ~lw3
  12. The Bay Area says: Welcome back, Cap'n Jack! http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AigZAWak52QZndi0Js0QS4K8vLYF?slug=aw-wojnarowski_monta_ellis_andrew_bogut_trade_031312 Bucks are trading Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to the Warriors for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and whatever's left of Kwame Brown. Interesting... ~lw3