Short takes: Pierce foiled, Teague finishes strong, Hawks move on

Coach Mike Budenholzer has his team soaring to the Eastern Conference finals after eliminating Washington Friday night. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Coach Mike Budenholzer has his team soaring to the Eastern Conference finals after eliminating Washington Friday night. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Coach Mike Budenholzer has his team soaring to the Eastern Conference finals after eliminating Washington Friday night. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

The Hawks finally punched through to the next round. They held on to defeat the Washington Wizards 94-91 Friday night when a potential game-tying three-pointer by Paul Pierce was nullified on replay, which showed the ball was still in Pierce’s hands. Pierce was close to stepping out of bounds on the shot but the official ruling was that he was in bounds. Enough about that.

Here’s the link to my full game column with quotes.

Here are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. IT STARTS WITH TEAGUE: Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (20 points, seven assists) was coming off a poor Game 5. He was even moved to pass up going into the game for the final three minutes because he believed his back, Dennis Schroder, was playing better. (And he was right.) But while the Hawks had several standouts in Game 6, Teague took over in crunch time more than anybody else. He twice blew past the Wizards’ defense for layups early in the quarter to give the Hawks a 10-point lead, and in the final minutes twice hit the cutting DeMarre Carroll (25 points, 10 rebounds) for crucial buckets after Washington had tied it at 89-89. “He was making great decisions,” said coach Mike Budenholzer.

2. ABOUT BUDENHOLZER: The Hawks have created some nervousness with their play in the playoffs. They haven’t been nearly as fluid offensively or consistent as they were during the regular season. But their play late in both playoff series –winning the last two games against Brooklyn after the Nets had tied it 2-2, and winning three straight over Washington after the Wizards had surprisingly jumped ahead 2-1 — speaks volumes about Budenholzer’s ability to hold the team together and find ways to win, as well as the players’ belief in their coach. Maybe this will quiet some of the criticism that had been creeping into the conversation.

3. LOOKING AHEAD: Cleveland is going to be favored in the Eastern Conference finals for two reasons: 1) It has the best player in LeBron James; 2) Oddsmakers know that fans/bettors gravitate to star players. The Hawks accept that. As Kyle Korver said, “We’re always going to be the underdog.” But the Hawks will have home court advantage in the series (which begins next Wednesday night at Philips Arena) and — aghast! — they defeated the Cavaliers in three out of four meetings this season. The Eastern Conference playoffs were expected to be wide open this year and nothing that has happened changes that belief. (The Cavs swept their first-round series over an undermanned Boston team but was stretched to six games by Chicago.) It’s a series the Hawks can win.

Recent ramblings
— MyAJC: Hawks in East finals would make Atlanta top 10
— MyAJC: Hawks in one win from higher elevation
— MyAJC: Hawks come through when it matters most
— AJC: Short takes: Horford comes through, Teague bows out
— MyAJC: Desperation shouldn’t be Hawks’ prime motivator
— MyAJC: Brady, Patriots got what they deserved
— AJC: Another lesson for Brady, Patriots: Don’t cheat, don’t lie
— MyAJC: Jalen Collins determined to make Falcons’ pick look good
— AJC: Wall’s injury shifts odds in Hawks’ favor for game, series
— MyAJC: Braves’ McDowell trying to repair some damaged egos
— AJC: Brady’s agent suggests ‘sting operation’ by NFL, Colts. Really?
— AJC: Pats, Brady clearly cheated and Bob Kraft is in denial
— MyAJC: Hawks survive but they didn’t make it easy
— AJC: Short takes: Wall’s status uncertain, late defense keys win
— MyAJC: Here we go again: Hawks let one slip away
— AJC: Short takes: Hawks go cold, blow double-digit lead in Game 1
— MyAJC: Teague is Hawks’ key to going deep in playoffs
— AJC: No shortage of stars but Hawks’ clincher started with Teague
— MyAJC: Finally, the good Hawks show up for series clincher
— AJC: On Falcons’ draft, trading up, Bruce Irvin and Gurley question
— MyAJC: Dan Quinn determined to fix pass rush after past Falcons’ whiffs

 

Reader Comments 0

62 comments
LakeDawg
LakeDawg

Budenholzer is the reason for the Hawk's success. Not Ferry. 

Peachs
Peachs

I have always been convinced that journalist write to impress each other and do not want to be clever because if they miss in their observations, the same cynicism they lay on their subjects will spill on them.  In this reality it was against gravity to write the Hawks into the 2015 script, these guys make a living not taking chances and having indignation  towards the Hawks was the vogue thing like religion in the Republican Party. I noticed "HubieBrown  last week rubbing on Washington and really showing no love for the Hawks, it has been that way all year.


My question is when do you go and beg Ferry to come back.  It is the weirdest story of the year or maybe in all sports.  A Duke grad called a bigot and not given the benefit of the doubt.  Ferry does not have the resume of a bigot and went a whole year being call worse, they honest to God couldn't recognize a winner.  Not sure we can ever take this paper or these lap dogs seriously again even if now that we are to the finals of the NBA east they through clinched teeth acknowledge this Hawks team may be above average. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

I'm not sure if I'm the only one who noticed this, but the refs consistently allowed Washington to set some of the most blatant illegal screens I have ever seen Friday night.  Seraphin in particular would stand there in pick position, then literally shuffle his way into a Hawks defender.  He'd shuffle as much as 6 ft just to try to make contact.  Putting a little extra pop into a pick play when your standing there is one thing.  Shuffling side to side in a blatant moving screen is ridiculous.

I think the Hawks are in good shape to beat the Cavs. I think Sefolosha will be missed because he's a good defender that can be thrown at Lebron.  But then Kyrie Irving is hobbled, and Kevin Love is out completely.  The Hawks are not only the better team, but far more healthy.

Peachs
Peachs

@MikeS777 Gortat was worse, he not only was vibrating towards the defender he was turning with him keeping his hands under his waist and pushing physically against the sliding boding going by.  He knocked Korver down four or five times.  The crap these guys have gone through this year between the bad press and the refs and have been class acts like somehow it was going to work out amazes me.  Nice guy in the NBA what a novel idea, more associated with this game should try it. 

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

The Hawks play (as well as their opponents) has not been as fluid mainly because the refs just don't call fouls. It's the playoffs and the defensive intensity has ratcheted up significantly. Instead of letting the players know that excessive contact will not be tolerated the refs have swallowed their whistles and the play is ugly. At least the Hawks have realized this and played just as physical down the stretch.

I think Teague's ankle is still bothering him a bit. At the end of game 5 he could not keep Wall or Beal in front of him. The rest until Wednesday will help.

Of course the Cavs will be favored. It was obvious that ESPN wanted the Wiz to win as they kept pushing how great John Wall is. Star power sells for the NBA and the Hawks stars are team oriented and not the narcissists like LeBron, Paul Pierce, Derrick Rose, etc. They kept showing the buzzers beater shots of those three but you never saw the put back by Horford included. I guess it technically wasn't a buzzer beater but it was the end of game wining play. I think the Hawks are a much better team than the Cavs, in fact I thing the Wiz are a better team, but we will see if the league will have the refs protect their marquee player LeBron to make it a series and even get him to the finals.

playmeortrademe
playmeortrademe

Here are the people who blindly favor the Cavs to win...


1) ESPN and the Mickey Mouse club over there, because Brpm Bron is sooooo dreamy and brings them stacks and stacks and stacks......

2) People from Cleveland, where for a generation of fans the city's greatest sports accomplishment is "Major League".

3) Bron Bron sackhuggers who still have his Heat jersey but have struck through that and written on the front "Cavs, yo...."

rockinreel
rockinreel

A lot of fans criticized Teague for letting Shroeder stay in the game the last few minutes of game five.  I was a little nervous how he would play in game six, but he played lights out.  


Wall had is chances to tie the game but seemed to be in panic mode.  Toss a layup in the second to last shot totally way over the rim.   I thought Wall had the refs on his side.  So many fouls were called for him and nobody touched him or barely grazed him.  It got to the point were he would complain to the refs after every single shot.  C'mon man, you don't get fouled every single time you shoot!  He drove inside so many times right into our BIGS and no shot.  Teague doesn't do that reckless style.  He plays much smarter when driving in the lane, like a slippery eel instead of Mach 3 like Wall into a wall of defenders.


I hate the type of basketball were stars charge recklessly into the crowded paint and get a foul call EVERY TIME.  Well, here comes LB.  Same fouls will be called.  

RangeRover
RangeRover

Schultz,

Why don't you do make a difference and deliver to us a plea to forgive and bring back Danny Ferry.

What a crying shame this man isn't being uplifted during an uplifting time in Hawks history.

Let us all--black, white and other--stand together and forgive and bring back to our family the man most responsible for this incredible, historic turnaround by a team no one wanted to buy, or even watch for that matter just two years ago!

HotDawg
HotDawg

@RangeRover

It's crazy what people get mad at today. 

Who got hurt? Offended? BullS...

The "thought" police  and P.C. crowd are out to censor and punish. 

They're out to control others like mind control, stepford wives, robots, etc. 

They imagine some kind of Xanadu that can never be. 

RangeRover
RangeRover

"But their play late in both playoff series--winning the last two games against Brooklyn after the Nets had tied it 2-2, and winning three straight over Washington after the Wizards had surprisingly jumped ahead 2-`--speaks volumes about Budenholzer’s ability to hold the team together and find ways to win, as well as the players’ belief in their coach."

How refreshing to have a quality Head Coach...and then there's Fredi Gonzalez!  Is there any wonder that his players have confidence in him in winning must-win games in Septembers or the postseason?  LOL! 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Wait wait wait! Range if I recall did you not say that this team was not built for the playoffs and would not win? If I am wrong forgive me but I think you said the Hawks would not could not win?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RangeRover

That his players HAVE confidence in him . . ."???

Then what's the problem?

WPL
WPL

The Cavaliers defense, is not as good as Washington. The hawks might be a matchup problem for Cavs. Lebron James is going to do any and everything he can do to win this series, the hawks are going have to match their intensity, if they do that, the hawks will give themselves a good chance to win this series.

tyger
tyger

Big Al + 2nd Rd. Picks...


No dominant performances yet...

No correlation btwn 60 win reg. season + playoffs...


Struggled w below .500 Nets...

Fell behind schizo Wizards...

One PP manicure from Game 7...


Although, Big Al, Teague holdovers...

Team growing internally...learning to win...

Learning to overcome... in different ways...


Big Al assumes Matrix of Leadership...

Confident...wants the ball in crunch...

Finding way to win...minus KKorver...

.

Still hustling:..steals, rebounds, asst...

But he's shooter: 0-7, Game 6...


But maybe that's source of Hawks resolve...

No 20 pt. spreads...Still gotta get it...


Free Mike Scott...

Scott, Schroeder's 3Qs were always key...

Now short bench is causing tightness...


Gotta find 60win/19 straight groove...

Megatron coming...





Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

tyger providing Haiku comments. Or are those iambic pentameters?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Why didn't the coach tell his players to foul Washington with 6 seconds left and a 3 point lead?

That may not guarantee the win, but it gives them better odds giving up 2 points than giving them the chance to tie the game with a 3 pointer. Like they almost did!!

Any reporters question that?

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

Here's why no NBA coach calls for that foul. You play good D and it takes a miracle shot to tie the game. You foul and it opens up the possibility, however remote it is, to lose the game.

tmc
tmc

THE PRESSURE IS OFF! I'd like to see the Hawks go back to having fun, running and subbing a lot.

If they do that i see good things cause they did what they had to do and got past the 2nd round.

Now go have fun, play your best, wear out the Cavs and let the chips fall where they may.

GO HAWKS!

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

While I realize this would be the extreme minority opinion, I personally find it more likely that the Hawks sweep the Cavs than that the Cavs win the series. 

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

@Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31 You should get over the media hype of Wall - he is a very good player but not great. By the way who was that guy taking the final shot in the last three games for the Wiz? Oh yeah - not the Wall but the ego maniacal strutting diva queen.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@olivia

Any chance we can trade you BIGOT?

GetontheGusBus
GetontheGusBus

Wall wanted to talk about how good he played after game 5. They lost and he's glooting over his stats! No thanks I'll take team players.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31

Yeah, you should've shut your yap when Sap hurt his shoulder--instead of mindlessly announcing that the injury was "season ending." Jerk.

hipdawg
hipdawg

shocking that they have not gotten this far in all the years w/ nique , tree, etc. so congrats on this accomplishment. Korver, come on man, put the ball through the net. 

David McCallum
David McCallum

@hipdawg I happen to think Iman Shumpert is an overrated defender. Here comes the biased Mike Breen from ESPN.

DeaconBlues
DeaconBlues

Very proud of this team.  My fellow alums Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and especially Jeff Teague this season have done our alma mater proud.  Very pleased to Jeff become the player of which he is capable, a conductor of an orchestra that plays beautiful music together.  As a lifelong Hawks fan, I cannot adequately describe the pride that I feel in watching these young men exhibit what truly is a TEAM game.  That is the greatest advantage the Hawks have over LBJ & Co.

DamonH
DamonH

"It’s a series the Hawks can win"

as long as they can overcome Lebron's "star calls" , you get within 10 feet of him and it's going to be a foul

2nickles
2nickles

This team is so versatile that when one thing is defended well, they always have another option and are not reluctant to go to it.  The key is their defense and no one can take that away, not even Labron.  

2nickles
2nickles

Washington was very physical with Korver and it was effective.  He's a pro, he'll adjust 

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

@2nickles Not only that, but if your defensive focus against the Hawks is Kyle Korver, I have to say advantage Hawks right at the outset.

2nickles
2nickles

This team can beat anybody because they are unselfish, committed to defense,  and believe they can win it all!  Some are saying Korver needs to come off the bench, I disagree, he is no liability on defense and he is such a threat (he'll not stay in a slump) that it opens up the whole offense.

playmeortrademe
playmeortrademe

Would love to see Bud try to have Korver come off the bench vs. Cavs.  He looks and acts tired at this point.  Teague, Schroder, DMC, Millsap, and Horford start, then bring Korver, Moose, Baze, Scott, and Pero off the bench in that order.  I think Korver coming in fresh with less minutes against second units would help him get better shots, be more accurate with fresher legs, and allow him to work less on defense.


Plus, imagine how demoralizing it would be for the Cavs if the starters ran Cleveland ragged for the first 8-10 minutes, then a fresh Korver comes in and starts lighting them up with Philips Arena losing their collective minds!

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

@playmeortrademe I think he looks like he has been the defensive focus of the Wizards the whole time, and it was effective in shutting him down. It did little to stop the rest of the team from generating easy buckets, however.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

CONGRATS to the Atlanta HAWKS, they have taken fans where we have never been before with this franchise.  I know there will be some who say the HAWKS need to play better but understand something, playing strong defense can take a lot out of you, this is no time to criticize but a time of rejoicing and feeling damn good.  Will the HAWKS play better offensively?

The HAWKS will play the cavaliers who are not the Wizards defensively.  I go back to old school, shut the rest of the players down and guard LBJ as best we can.  I can say the HAWKS are giving fans one helluva ride and it's fun.  Did anyone expect this?  The answer is NO!  To question coach Bud are have annoyance with some players is simply out of line.

There is not a player on the HAWKS team at one time or another who did not contribute, from Pero to Johnny Jenkins, every player has contributed to the HAWKS success.  One game at a time is the mindset, no speculation or predictions because this is truly undiscovered territory.  Enjoy this team folks, the 2nd year under coach Bud and the HAWKS are heading to the ECF finals.  I am hoping when the season ends that the new management bring DF back, it would be a wise move.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31
Olivia_Coleman_Bernard31

@WaltBBall  Pero SUX and should not be on the court again. Either Pero has some minimum playing time guarantee in his contract or he has naked pictures of Coach Bud with Olivia Harlan.

donpgraham
donpgraham

Jeff, what are the chances Danny Ferry gets to return as GM?  His comments were blown out of proportion, I believe, and any malevolence was clearly unintentional. He is the person primarily responsible for the Hawks' great success since he hired Budenholzer and put this team together. Since he and Grant Hill are both from Duke, surely Hill knows him well enough to know the truth.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@donpgraham

Nice response Jeff gave you, eh? NOT!

Shame on AJC staffers for ignoring their readers.