Mike Muscala

Hawks sign Lamar Patterson, Terran Petteway

Leave a comment

The Hawks have 13 players with guaranteed contracts plus Mike Muscala, who’s a practical lock to make the team.

That leaves one open roster spot and now two candidates to fill it.

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Hawks acquired Patterson, the No. 48 pick in the 2014 draft, in a draft-night trade. He played overseas last season, allowing Atlanta to keep his rights. He’s a good passer and solid outside shooter, but his lack of athleticism will hold him back in the NBA.

Petteway went undrafted this year. He did a bit of everything for Nebraska, but he was pretty inefficient in his big role. Can he scale down his game in the NBA and find a niche?

Patterson and Petteway will likely compete throughout training camp to make the team. The Hawks also have the room exception available, which they could use to sign a veteran who reduces Patterson’s and Petteway’s chances to nil.

Why Tristan Thompson has worked so well for Cavaliers during run to NBA Finals

19 Comments

Tristan Thompson had been a fine member of the reserve unit for the Cavaliers all season long, providing a steady amount of defense and rebounding anytime his number was called.

But since being inserted into the starting lineup during the playoffs, he’s turbocharged a Cleveland team that absolutely tore through the Eastern Conference on their way to the NBA Finals.

Once Kevin Love was ruled out for the season after the injury he suffered in Game 4 of the first round matchup with the Celtics, Thompson was immediately given a starter’s share of the minutes. He brings a very different dynamic to the team than Love does, and it’s why Cleveland has looked so dominant since Thompson was pressed into providing a heavier level of service.

From NBA.com’s SportVU Finals preview:

Offensive rebounding has been huge for the Cavaliers this postseason, as they’ve averaged 12.1 offensive rebounds per game this postseason, compared to 11.1 in the regular season. Tristan Thompson has been huge in generating these second chance opportunities, as he’s averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game this post season.

source:

The reason Thompson has been so impactful is because of just how much focus he puts into rebounding on seemingly every possession, and the numbers above show just how involved he’s been with such a high number of his team’s overall rebounding chances. As for his abilities on the offensive glass specifically, take a look at this play from Cleveland’s Game 3 win over the Hawks:

Notice how Thompson’s natural inclination, before the offense is even initiated, is to lurk along the baseline. Love is more relied upon for his offense, and is rarely if ever just hanging around under the basket, looking to secure rebounding position as things begin to develop.

The same is true as Thompson comes up to set a screen for Kyrie Irving. When Love does this, he pops out the majority of the time, in order to be in position for a jumper or three-point shot in the event the ball-handler decides to pass. Thompson will almost always roll toward the basket — sometimes, that can result in his being able to convert an alley-oop pass, but what’s more important is his getting closer to the rim to give himself the best chance of rebounding in the event of a missed shot.

Once the shot goes up, watch the way Thompson relentlessly battles Mike Muscala for the rebound, even though he doesn’t have the inside position. This is what Thompson does so well, and has been doing so consistently in these playoffs: Offensive rebounding is what Thompson is looking to do on every one of his team’s possessions.

When you go back through Love’s offensive rebounds, the fight is something that’s rarely seen, and most of them come to him on friendly bounces, or when he’s in a favorable position to be able to follow his own shot. It’s just not something that’s regularly on his mind.

This is not meant to slander Love’s ability, or his relative level of importance to the Cavaliers when he was healthy. Thompson simply provides a different skill set than Love does, but it’s arguably one that’s better-suited to his team’s overall needs.

Thompson has averaged 11.44 rebounds per game in nine appearances since replacing Love as a starter, and the Cavaliers are 8-1 in those contests. LeBron James, of course, has plenty to do with the team’s success during that span. But the way Thompson has elevated his game has made a huge difference, and the style Cleveland is playing at this very moment has the team primed for success in its matchup against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Hawks face uphill climb after DeMarre Carroll injury

10 Comments

The Eastern Conference Finals may have just been decided in the worst possible way.

Nobody knows yet how bad DeMarre Carroll’s leg injury is yet. The Hawks are calling it a knee sprain for now, but it looks bad. Even if it isn’t as bad as it seemed at the time, Carroll couldn’t put weight on it after the Hawks’ Game 1 home loss to the Cavs, and it’s highly unlikely he plays in at least the next game, if not longer.

Which is an awful prospect, both for Carroll (coming up on free agency) and the Hawks, who now face the task of beating the best player in the world without the guy on their roster most equipped to guard him. Carroll has been the least talked-about member of the Hawks starting five, the only one that wasn’t named an All-Star. But he’s their best perimeter defender, and it’s not really close.

The most logical choice to guard LeBron James with Carroll out is Paul Millsap, who handled most of those duties after Carroll went down on Wednesday. Millsap can handle him in small stretches, but as the Hawks’ primary game plan (which he is now by default), he’s not nearly as well equipped as Carroll to do that heavy lifting.

In addition to creating a much greater defensive burden on the rest of the Hawks, Carroll’s injury is going to force their bench — which has been problematic for much of the playoffs — into a larger role. Kent Bazemore will probably get the starting nod at small forward, and he was solid in 16 minutes in Game 1, scoring 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He’ll bring energy on offense, but he isn’t nearly the defender Carroll is. What the Hawks got out of Dennis Schroder, Pero Antic and Mike Muscala off the bench on Wednesday is not encouraging. Maybe Mike Budenholzer will dust off Mike Scott, who’s fallen out of the rotation for most of the playoffs.

The Cavs won Game 1, but they’re still hobbled by injuries. They were carried on Wednesday night by J.R. Smith setting a playoff career high and hitting eight three-pointers. For the most part, this is still a series that James will have to do the heavy lifting for. The Hawks’ best hope was to make that workload as heavy as possible, and at least for the short term, they will have to find a way to do that without their defensive ace.

Carroll will get an MRI on Thursday, and he and the Hawks will have to hope that it’s “only” a strain or a hyperextension, not something much worse. Either way, they’ll probably be without him for at least the rest of this series, and that makes their road to the Finals much more difficult.

Hawks’ DeMarre Carroll (kind of) explains why he wasn’t on floor to defend Paul Pierce’s game-winner

8 Comments

The Hawks had an unusual lineup on the floor to defend the Wizards on Game 3’s final possession, but at least part of that was a product of circumstances.

Atlanta’s reserves were the ones who put together a late 21-3 run to bring the Hawks back from the dead, and seldom-used Mike Muscala of all people was the one who hit the three-pointer to tie the game at 101 with 14 seconds left.

So, the lineup that was in place to defend what ended up being Paul Pierce’s game-winner consisted of Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Shelvin Mack, Dennis Schröder and Muscala — a group which, as far as I can tell, had never logged even a single minute together before that fateful possession.

We saw what happened next — Pierce ended up being guarded by the much smaller Schröder for some reason, the help from Bazemore came late, and Pierce was able to elevate for his patented step-back jumper, which banked home just before time expired.

DeMarre Carroll has been the best player for the Hawks in these playoffs, and is one of the team’s better defenders. He should have been out there to lock up Pierce, and in fact, head coach Mike Budenholzer evidently wanted it that way. But somewhat oddly, Carroll seemed to bow out of accepting the assignment.

The Hawks were already dealing with a substandard version of Paul Millsap, who didn’t start because he was dealing with flu-like symptoms, and was largely ineffective in 22 minutes off the bench. If Carroll isn’t right physically as he seemed to indicate (although his answers to why he wasn’t on the floor were far from revealing), Atlanta could be eliminated sooner than anyone expected.

Paul Pierce hits game-winner to give Wizards 2-1 series lead over Hawks (VIDEO)

16 Comments

Paul Pierce hit the game-winner to give the Wizards a critical Game 3 win over the Hawks, but it really shouldn’t have come to that.

Even without John Wall, Washington dominated from the opening tip, and led by as many as 21 points with just under 10 minutes to play.

The Hawks, however — specifically the team’s bench unit — refused to quit fighting.

A 21-3 fourth quarter run had Atlanta back within striking distance, and a three-pointer from Mike Muscala had the game all tied up with 14 seconds left.

But Pierce made sure that the afternoon’s work wouldn’t go to waste. His step-back jumper banked home, and sealed the 103-101 victory the Wizards earned by the way they played for most of the contest.

The best part of Pierce’s game-winner might have been his postgame reaction.

When asked if he called bank — a common question when a shot drops home off the glass — Pierce’s response was priceless.

“I called GAME,” he said.