Posted: 9:17 pm Monday, January 20th, 2014

The Heat-beating Hawks give us reason to believe 

By Mark Bradley

Image

Kyle Korver hit the clincher Monday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Miami Heat 121-114 Monday and it wasn’t a fluke. This isn’t to say the Hawks are the better team — they aren’t — but this marks three very good teams (Indiana and Houston were the first two) that have been beaten in Philips Arena since Al Horford was lost for the season. This is no small thing.

The Hawks are building the San Antonio way, which is the way to build if you don’t have LeBron James, and at last check nobody but Miami does. They’re creating an identity while still in the process of fleshing out a roster, and the impressive thing about general manager Danny Ferry’s roster-building is how well everyone he has imported has fit the greater design. (Remember: Ferry didn’t import Josh Smith. But he did let him leave after one season.)

How many times in their existence has anyone been able to type this sentence — ”the Hawks are a very smart team” — and not be laughed out of court? How many times have the Hawks played this far above their talent level, as opposed to below it? How many times have you watched a game like Monday’s and believed, with some semblance of reason, that the Hawks were clever enough and coached well enough to figure things out down the stretch?

I’m not going to tell you this team is going to the NBA finals. Without Horford, it will do well to survive Round 1 of the playoffs. But I think the Hawks could soon be playing for the right to grace the NBA finals — provided they get the player(s) they need to transform them from Spurs Lite into the New Spurs.

Granted, that’s always the harder part. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m impressed with what Ferry has done and how smart coach Mike Budenholzer seems to be. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I feel better about the future of the Hawks than I have since the late ’80s, and maybe even then.

From myajc.com, our premium site: Beating the Heat shows the Hawks are building the right way.

43 comments
PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

Hawks are a joy to watch and follow.   Interesting how a team hovering just above .500 can foster good feelings with the fans, unlike the Woody/Larry Drew  teams that did a bit better but always felt so frustrating.

GGee
GGee

This Hawks team is a joy to watch. There isnt a team in the NBA that we cannot compete with on a nightly basis. I dont feel Asik is the answer at C. We just need a big guy to rotate with Horford/Millsap. A guy like K. Perkins maybe. Not sure that we are in desperate need of a go-to scorer with CMBs system. Teague or Lou elevating their play in crunch time would do the trick. We are building a solid foundation and once it is in place and we see who excels at this style of bball we will know what direction to take in FA or trades.

GASports
GASports

Chinese team Zhejiang announced that they have waived Ivan Johnson and signed Mike Harris.

Johnson was averaging 25.8ppg, 10.2rpg and 2apg in CBA in 25 games.

Mike Harris has played with the Jazz this season averaging 4.2ppg in 20 games.

Bernie31
Bernie31

what a Belief in FAIRY-TALES? Because that is what it WAS!

FoSho
FoSho

with that huge win over the heat, the hawks are back!  mark this down--the hawks will make some noise in the playoffs!!  indiana is going down!

FirstDerivative
FirstDerivative

There is nothing to believe. The Hawks will continue to be pigeons..downtown pooping up the place, begging food, and making a mess.

Falcons63
Falcons63

People...  Bradley didn't say the Hawks are there yet.. just seeing some encouraging signs.  Lord knows I rarely agree with him but I think this time he is spot on.  I have to say that I'm impressed with both Ferry and Coach Bud.  I know we have the Horford haters, but you have a healthy Al and a 3 that can score and the Hawks are pretty good.  Add to that a defensive minded Center to rotate with Al and Milsap and they are better than pretty good. I remember when this roster was assembled a lot of posters predicted 30-35 wins max. Without Josh the team would be awful.   I really like Josh as a player, but I think all parties benefited by him leaving.  Coach Bud has kept the team competitive in spite of losing Al while DF has maintained the teams salary cap flexibility going forward.  Who knows what the future may bring.  This team isn't there yet... but I like what I'm seeing so far.

Wink77
Wink77

I have totally bought into the system.  I would stack the Hawks up against any team right now, even with our short comings.  The Spurs model is working because it is about team and moving the ball....Hawks leads the NBA in assists per game.


We need a small forward & a center.  We just need that guy to help close out games.  Right now they are in almost every game, save the London game.  Melo would not be that guy. 


I hope we could get the Center (Asik) and keep Horford some how?  If not bring back BeBe, provided his knees are okay.  Add the Hayward kid from Utah & a decent draft pick at the 3 for depth.  Asik & Hayward would be a game changer.  If we have to move a player to make it happen, I would move Teague.  Right now Schroder is a better passer and Mack is more aggressive on a nightly basis than Teague, with a better floater. 


We can compete with a lineup of Mack, Korver, Hayward, Milsap, Asik.  Bench: Schroder, Lou, Carroll, Scott, Brand, Horford / Asik? //  Ayon, Draft Pick, Draft Pick, Pero / BeBe?

seminoleking
seminoleking

im gonna say it. this is the best COACHED AND MANAGED hawks team since the original squad that came in 1970. hubie had some good COACHED squads. fratello was a good coach, but not enough players, but this squad HERE........ive never seen the hawks as a ORGANIZATION been this legit from top to bottom since they been in atlanta. you can SEE they one or two pieces away. a legit center (asik), and a just a LITTLE more depth up front and they are legit all the way.........im happy with the backcourt because of mack being the bridge to the new kid. im happy with williams backing up korver and im happy with carroll and we all know millsap is a allstar....i would trade horford for asik straight up so that we have a true defensive minded center who can block shots and free millsap up to concentrate on shooting the ball.......

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

The Hawks are currently 21-19. They are no threat to contend for anything, though they could pick up the third spot in the East.

Read that second sentence again.

Now, for the sake of amusement, take the Hawks' record over to the West. They are currently two games out of a Western Conference playoff spot. I know the East is terrible, but...yikes.

falconfever
falconfever

They are fun to watch. I got fed up with smith and Joe Johnson. Looks like everyone on this team likes each other and is having fun. Well, except Teague. Mack looked good but he is not the answer. Teague could be but too up and down. With pretty much everyone being able to shoot 3's  defenses can not double. Also, loved seeing the flopper(Chalmers) looking like a fool.

Classof98
Classof98

The Hawks give us reason to believe what?  That they can win in January?

You don't think the NBA will let any team but the Heat represent the East in the Finals do you?  All they care about is TV ratings.


I guess Bradley also thought Roddy Piper had a great chance to beat Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania.

WaltBBall
WaltBBall

DF and coach Bud are building a team, changing mindsets and creating a new identity.  I'm not expecting the HAWKS to do anything fantastic this season as far as the playoffs, it's a long season and injuries can derail momentum but next season I believe the HAWKS will be something special.  A nucleus is being formed with P. Milsap, P. Antic, J. Teague, K. Korver, M. Scott, D. Carroll, S. Mack, Schroeder, J. Jenkins and G. Ayon.  Big Al heals and he may or may not be a HAWK but a solid foundation is being built.

The HAWKS are competitive, fun and entertaining to watch.  The sky is the limit but not this year and next year  I see them as a more talented and imposing team physically.  Who knows what E. Brand will do the big fella can still give a solid 20-30 mins a game and be productive, personally I want him to remain a HAWK.  Good things are happening in Hawkville and that's all the better for we the fans.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I agree, Mark.  This team, both before and after Horford's injury, clearly is coached better than I have seen since Lenny Wilkins was in town.  Teague and Milsap are averaging career highs in points.  Horford was as well.  Korver his second highest.   Even DeMarre Carroll is averaging near 10 pts per game, which is a career high for him.  The whole team has responded better than I expected to what coach Budenholzer has been teaching them.


It's still early, but so far it seems Coach Budenholzer did a lot more than just sit there holding a clip board in SA.  He truly learned the ins and outs of how to coach a team from one of the game's best in Gregg Popovich. 

syrupmaker
syrupmaker

I wish Coach Bud could have gotten a chance to coach Joe, Josh, Horford and Teague.

JLTee
JLTee

While I enjoy watching the job Ferry and Bud have done contructing this team, I'm not as optimistic. We will not have a lottery pick. Meaning, we won't be able to draft a trancendent go to player. NBA superstars avoid this city like the plague during free agency. I think Ferry has found a cheaper way to do what we've been doing for most of the last two decades (Deke/Smitty Hawks & Josh/Joe Hawks)-be middle of the pack.

We really needed a lottery pick this year to help move us from "solid" to contender.

JChikara
JChikara

While I do think Coach Bud has done an amazing job with such a limited roster, the fact is that until they get that true go-to scorer, they will always be a step below teams like Miami and Indiana. When will fans stop accepting B level results in Atlanta? You cannot win in this league without star players, and Milsap is an All-Star, he needs an A plus guy who can take over down the stretch. The Spurs model works because Tony Parker takes his game to another level in crunch time. Where was Teague? On the bench where he belongs. Trade him for Rondo and watch how good this team can really be. 

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

Right on Mark, best thing about this team is they are a pleasure to watch. Millsap is an awesome pickup, most everyone one knew the Hawks would be better just by swapping Mills for J Smith.

I'm glad Mack has played well, but I rally would like to see Schroder get some more time, he is the key to the future.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Ferry and Coach Bud are great. Billy Knight and his cruddy coach Woodson were a disaster.

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

Great sentiments Mark. I went to the Golden St game (we lost on a buzzer beater 3 and I popped you on the back between hotdog runs) and I left very impressed with this team.

On paper - especially without Horford - the Hawks don't seem to have a shot, but their system works. I imagine spending that much time around Pop in San Antonio is a master class in working efficiently in a system.

The bench seems to give max effort (I'm loving Mack and Lou as a backup backcourt), they've got really good shooters who shoot smart (looking at you J Smoove), and they rebound better than they should be, given the limits on size and talent.

If the Nets stay bad, atl gets their pick, Al comes back and there is plenty of coin to get a star talent AND a grizzled playoff veteran in 14-15 season.

Teague, Korver, Milsap, big free agent and Horford is a solid starting 5, with Lou, Mack, the big European and an impact rookie off the bench - I'm thinking Hawks have serious upside for the next few years.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Coach Bud has built a team with a lot of heart that plays smart! Good hire Danny! Now go get some complimentary players so the city will get interested...

ConfederateFlagBurner
ConfederateFlagBurner

The Fundamental & Smart Factory. Is way better than the opposing team Highlight Factory. 

I love watching these new Hawks they are fun to watch. 

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

There were no highlights at Philips even when it was called the Highlight Factory by Hawks marketing. I hope Ferry is patient because it's going to take alot more than this to get the citizens of ATL on board what has been a train wreck for 30+ years.

SOB
SOB

Wish the Falcons would follow this obvious method of how to turn things around. New GM, who hires an innovative new head coach, who has the magic to make non-superstar players play their roles in his system! If the system is in place and the players buy into it -- the players are almost interchangeable. Injuries and players will come and go -- but the system stays in place -- and other players are simply plugged into it. The Patriot football team has been doing this for years. It works. Again, wish the Falcons could make themselves follow this proven model for success...

-sting-
-sting-

yes mark, back in the 80's they had coaches as well. i never heard it said but they were very under coached here when they had brought in their stable form the lottery. of course that was itched as well. i heard hubie talk about them on an early morning national show and he all bbut said there was talent here but not coached well. we may end up with less talent and a better coach but fail to rid any higher due to a lack of talent unless someone decides to break down the barrier of having a basketball superstar in a haul uniform.

WJK83
WJK83

Agreed. I quit watching after the strike and the dismantling of the Mookie Blaylock teams. But this year they have my attention. After an awful football season Atlanta fans could use a team to believe in.

ftputt
ftputt

This is why Ferry brought in all of these fundamental guys.  The new name of the arena should be the "FUNDAMENTAL FACTORY" instead of the Highlight factory.  Because there aren't any more highlights, just solid fundamentals.  

Calel
Calel

Good read, and I hope this really means something for this organization. However, the Heat lost to the Knicks a few days ago, and they've looked very "un-Heat-like," if I can say that, for a few weeks now. Just saying....

GGee
GGee

There must be some off the court.issues with Ivan because he deserved to stay a Hawk.

Farcas
Farcas

You do understand this, wrestling fake, NBA not. Oh, and Kennedy was killed by one shooter. Classof98, implode time!

USAF92
USAF92

@syrupmaker That would be worth seeing but, sadly, I am afraid that Joe and Josh are much too selfish as ballplayers to ever be able to work within Coach Bud's scheme.  

KennyCown
KennyCown

@JLTee Actually there's a very good chance we get a lottery pick. Part of the Joe Johnson deal was the right to trade first round picks with Brooklyn this year and next year, so we can keep on winning and hope they keep on losing and still get a lotto pick! Another example of D. Ferry's genius! 


DawgNole
DawgNole

@JChikara: ". . . When will fans stop accepting B level results in Atlanta?. . . "

After 158 seasons of pro sports competition in the city--with ONE championship to show for them--we apparently STILL don't know when ATL fans will "stop accepting B level results."


MarkBradley
MarkBradley moderator

@PhillipdjMust have popped someone else, I'm afraid. I wasn't there for Golden State.


JChikara
JChikara

@SOB The Patriots system works because of Brady and Belichick. The Falcons have that in Matt Ryan, but not in Mike Smith. 

GGee
GGee

This is true... but the Hawks in all reality beat the heat @ Miami earlier this year. So i guess thats a better measuring.stick. minus Horford we should stink... but were really really impressing on the floor this year

Phillipdj
Phillipdj

If I popped your doppleganger and he was from ESPN I'm wishing I popped him on his head. My bad.

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