Tag: Bulls Hawks

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six

Video: Hawks Josh Smith with best ally-oop of playoffs


This was the one Hawks highlight from Thursday night.

There wasn’t much to smile about in Atlanta as the Hawks were thumped and knocked out of the playoffs by the Bulls. But there was one highlight in the Highlight Factory.

Josh Smith can just flat out get up there. Enjoy. And when you think of the Hawks, think of this play and not the rest of the game.

NBA Playoffs: Bulls bounce Hawks, will need more from Boozer vs. Heat

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six
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Chicago’s Game 6 dominance was in no way a surprise. Though Atlanta has played effective basketball at various points during this series, games like this one fall in line with the initial assessments of the Bulls’ superiority.

The Hawks exceeded most projections of their playoff performance, but their postseason success didn’t change the fact that the Bulls were, and are still, the better team. Their defense is more reliable. Their offensive execution is more consistent, even if the end product is flawed. They had the best players in this series on both sides of the floor, the better bench, and the superior coach. The Bulls were going to win this series because, ultimately, they’re the Bulls. Call that oversimplified analysis if you will, but being the considerably superior outfit is typically enough to win a playoff series, even if Atlanta figured things out for a game or two and a half.

The Bulls we saw on Thursday night were the fully functioning model, geared to bother the hell out of the opponent’s offense and skilled in doing so. Atlanta posted an effective field-goal percentage of just 37.2 percent, a commendable mark even against an opponent known for their troublesome tendency to settle for contested jump shots. It’s common NBA rhetoric to say that an offense “got whatever looks it wanted,” but in this case, Chicago’s defense consistently forced Atlanta into whatever looks that it wanted. Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah dictated the outcome of this game with their ball pressure, and the Hawks’ 14.2 turnover rate only stands as further evidence of the Bulls’ ability to cause trouble on D.

Offensively, Chicago had it easy. That tends to be the case when Carlos Boozer is working to find open space and — even more importantly — actually hitting a shot or two. Boozer hasn’t had the most impressive playoff run thus far, but he’s absolutely essential to Chicago’s success going forward. Atlanta and Indiana put up a fight, but neither is even close to Miami in terms of two-way efficacy.

The Heat defense is going to test the Bulls’ offense in ways it hasn’t even seen this postseason, and Boozer will have to keep working and finishing if the Eastern Conference finals are to be anything other than the end of the line for the Bulls. It’s odd that Chicago’s second-best offensive player has become something of an X-factor in these playoffs (an impact player with the potential to come and go, but hardly stable), but that inconsistency has historically been a part of Boozer’s postseason game. Deng, Noah, and the Bulls reserves may be able to compensate for Boozer’s lack of production on his less effective nights, but performances of this ilk are what the Bulls will need almost every night out against the Heat.

Jeff Teague did an incredible job of taking over the point guard responsibilities for the Hawks on a moment’s notice, and in spite of the fact that coach Larry Drew had consistently chosen to keep Teague on the bench over the course of the regular season. His success came on a borrowed opportunity, but Teague’s scoring was brilliant and his playmaking promising. Atlanta doesn’t have much hope for internal improvement, but Teague does provide a lone bit of hope.

I won’t miss these Hawks, and you shouldn’t either. There won’t be some summer night where we collectively long for a Joe Johnson iso or a Josh Smith ill-advised 3-point attempt. This team was confounding and irritating, and it’s never pleasant to see skilled players conquered so often by their own vices.

We should all miss the Hawks of Games 1 and 4 though, that brilliantly talented and athletic club that would show up from time to time. They’re capable of running a prolific offense and a versatile defense, and harness the power of an interesting, dynamic group — from Johnson to Teague to Smith to Horford — in concert rather than as a solo performance from a self-ordained virtuoso.

Either way, we bid farewell to both the good Hawks and bad, and greet what’s sure to be a phenomenal Eastern Conference finals series with open arms.

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Hawks’ Smith defends his jump shooting ways (he’s wrong)

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

Josh Smith hears your complaints Atlanta. He hears the groans in Phillips Arena every time he goes up for a jumpshot outside of five feet.

And he wants you to know he things you’re wrong, he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“I’ve been a pretty good perimeter shooter this whole season. If people have been here all season they know I’ve done it all year. People who are here for the special times don’t understand.”

Actually, Josh, you haven’t been pretty good all year.

You shot 31.1 percent on shots from 10-15 feet. That’s not good. You took more than four long-two pointers (16-23 feet) per game, and that is the least efficient shot in basketball. You hit a decent 39 percent of those, but other teams will gladly give you that shot and that percentage to keep you from attacking the rim. See there, you shot 66 percent (inside the restricted area). You took as many long twos as you did shots at the rim. With your athleticism, that simply should not be the case.

You did shoot the corner three pretty well — 42 percent. Of course, you took less than one of those a game. Most of your threes come out on the arc, where you shoot 29 percent. Not good.

And it’s all been worse in the playoffs — you are shooting 15 percent from the midrange, you have yet to hit a corner three and you are shooting 21 percent out on the arc from three. But, get in the paint and you shoot fantastic numbers.

Josh, don’t take this the wrong way, but the crowd is right to groan. Don’t settle, attack more. Go to the post. When you do the Hawks entire offense is so much more dynamic. When you and your teammates fall in love with the jumper is when things go bad.

Thanks for listening.

(All stats in this post via Hoopdata and the NBA.com Statscube, two places you should check out. When you have a lot of time to kill. Because they will suck you in.)

Video: Derrick Rose follows his own shot

Chicago Bulls v Phoenix Suns
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Let this be a lesson for you young basketball players out there — there is a reason coaches say to follow your shot.

Reasons like this, when Derrick Rose follows his own shot for the amazing put-back slam. Another stunning play from the MVP. Don’t try this at home, he’s a trained professional.

It wasn’t enough, the Hawks still got the win in this one to even the series, but this play by Rose was the highlight of the game.

NBA Playoffs: Hawks big men show up and tie series

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

When you watch the Atlanta Hawks move the ball like that, get the ball in the paint like that, see their big men take over like that and you wonder why you don’t see this version of the Hawks every night. It has to frustrate the Hawks fans.

But Hawks fans will take their arrival.

Josh Smith and Al Horford took over late in the game, Jeff Teague was getting into the lane and they sparked a late 10-0 run that gave the Hawks a 100-88 victory. That evens the series at 2-2 heading back to Chicago for a huge Game 5 Tuesday.

The Hawks can be a team that settles for the jump shot… actually, that’s an understatement. They love their jump shots in an unhealthy way.

But in the heat of this game — the Hawks 10-0 run in the final five minutes — Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford did not touch the ball. There was not isolation, there was ball and player movement. There was Josh Smith whipping a pass into Al Horford moving along the baseline to an open spot under the basket. The whole vibe felt different because Larry Drew started Jason Collins at center, moving Horford to the four and Smith to the three, and with that just came more flow (Carlos Boozer felt that was the key).

We don’t want to dismiss Johnson, who had 24 points on 14 shots, and Crawford, who had 12 points. They helped the Hawks earlier in the game, but when it came to crunch time, the Hawks showed diversity.

The Bulls don’t have that diversity. They have Derrick Rose. And only Derrick Rose. From the start the Hawks doubled Rose hard, tried to take the ball out of his hands and force difficult shots. It worked (as much as anything works on Rose). He shot 12-of-32 on the night and that was not enough. Carlos Boozer did have 18 points on 10 shots, but Luol Deng was 5-of-14. But it was all about Rose.

The Bulls bigger issue was defense — the Hawks scored at 112.4 points per 100 possessions pace. The Bulls were undone by some big-to-big passing and some of the best of what the Hawks can bring.

Can we really expect that in Game 4 from Atlanta? They haven’t been consistent like that all season. Meanwhile the Bulls can play better on defense. And you can expect they will at home.

But if the Hawks can contain Rose again, they stand a chance to pull another big upset in a playoffs filled with upsets.