Cavs’ season was a huge success, but a massive disappointment at the same time

After falling to the Nets Tuesday night in Brooklyn in the Play-In Tournament, the Cavs had one more chance to get into the playoffs when they hosted the Atlanta Hawks Friday night.

It’s win or go home!

The Cavs got All-Star center Jarrett Allen back after he missed 19 games(including Play-In Tournament) with a fractured finger. Cleveland had their largest lead of 14 points in the first half and led by 10 at the half. However, Trae Young happened! The All-Star had 32 of his 38 points in the second half as the Hawks defeated the Cavs 107-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavs season ends, while the Hawks capture the eighth seed and move on to face the Heat in first round of the playoffs, which begins Sunday in Miami. 

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks:

The Great for the Cavs:

-Lauri Markkanen played like he did not want to go home. He had 17 of his team-high 26 points in the first half to along with eight rebounds. Markkanen shot 10/17 from the field, including 6/12 from deep. Unfortunately, he did have a bad pass that was stolen by Kevin Huerter late in the fourth, which sealed the deal for the Hawks, but all and all, Markkanen did his job Friday night.

-Evan Mobley will be a special player, and he played well against the Hawks. The rookie had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Just like Tuesday night in Brooklyn, the moment was not too big for Mobley.

-Darius Garland struggled with his shot(9/27 FG), but he battled through it and finished with 21 points, nine assists, and three steals; however,  he did turn the ball over five times.

First Half:  The Cavs fed off their crowd in the first half. Cleveland shot 52% from the floor in the first quarter, including 67%(6/9) from deep. The Cavs led 36-25 after one. Cleveland made 10 threes in the first half and got great looks. In addition, they held the Hawks to 17%(3/17) from three-point range, and Cleveland led 61-51 at the break. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: Great players do great things, and Young is a great player. Young woke up after being held to six points in the first half. He either scored or assisted on 27 of the Hawks’ 33 points in the quarter. He finished with 16 points in the third. Atlanta shot 61% from the floor(4/8 3-PT FG). The Hawks outscored the Cavs 33-23 in the quarter, took their first lead late in the third, and erased a 10-point halftime deficit. The game was knotted at 84, heading into the fourth.

Second Half Offense: The offense stagnated in the second half, and some credit has to go to Atlanta’s defense, which stiffened. Cleveland did not get the same looks they had in the first half. You often saw some 911 shots with the shot clock running down from the Cavs, and they had two shot-clock violations early in the fourth. After scoring 61 points in the first, Cleveland was held to 40 points in the second half. In the fourth, they shot only 33% from the field, including 1/8 from downtown. After making 10 threes in the first half, the Cavs made only three more the rest of the way.

Bench: The Hawks’ bench outscored Cleveland’s bench 25-9. Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo were not much of a factor in this contest. Maybe Love could have gotten more minutes, but Atlanta was trying to go after him on the defensive end. The Cavs’ starters were a combined +10, while the bench was a combined -40.

Bottom Line:

It’s kind of stunning how the season ended for Cleveland. At one point, especially after the addition of Caris LeVert, many thought this team could make a deep playoff run. Now, just like that, it’s over!

The season was a success. Players like Garland and Jarrett Allen grew and became All-Stars, and Evan Mobley looks like a star. LeVert will have a whole training camp to get acclimated with the team, and maybe they’ll bring back soon-to-be restricted free agent Collin Sexton or move him to get another piece. In addition, they will have a lottery pick, so that’s another opportunity to improve this roster. Youth is on their side as Garland, Allen, Mobley, and Markkanen are all under 25.

Even in saying the season was a success, it feels like a disappointment at the same time. They were in striking distance of the top spot in the East for most of the season, but the day that destroyed the season was March 6. Cleveland defeated Toronto in that game and was 37-27 and was the sixth seed in the East with a three-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors. However, Allen fractured his finger and missed the final 18 games of the regular season. During that stretch, the Cavs went 7-11. Also, during that stretch, Mobley went down with an ankle injury and missed five games. They overcame the injuries of Sexton and Ricky Rubio, but they did not overcome Allen’s injury.

Again, a fantastic season for the Cavs, and the future seems bright. However, from top to bottom, the East will be challenging, and here’s also the thing: Cleveland is not sneaking up on anyone, so expectations have changed, which means the pressure is on this young group to get better. We’ll see how they’ll respond next season.

What’s Next:

The offseason! It was a fun season!

Best of the Rest:

-LeVert had 16 points for the Cavs as all five starters scored in double figures. Allen, who was basically playing with one hand, had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a block.

-Bogdan Bogdanovic had 19 points for the Hawks off the bench. 

-During the second quarter, Clint Capela suffered a right knee hyperextension after fouling Mobley. According to the team. he will undergo an MRI in Miami, and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Watch below as Garland and Mobley react to the loss to Atlanta:

Trae Young names Eastern Conference Player of the Week

 Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 28 through April 3, the NBA announced today.

Young led the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 record this past week, averaging 30.3 points, 10.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 32.3 minutes of action (.462 FG%, .359 3FG%, .921 FT%). His 10.8 assists per game marked the second-most in the Eastern Conference (third in the NBA), while his .921 FT% marked the second-best clip from the line in the NBA (min. 35 FTM). Young was the only player in the East this past week to average at least 30 points and 10 assists and one of only two players to do so in the NBA.

In his first game of the week, a 132-123 win over the Indiana Pacers, Young dished out a season-high 16 assists. His 16 assists marked the second-most assists in a single game this past week, as well as the eighth 16+ assist outing of Young’s career.

Against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 30th, Young recorded his 10th 40+ scoring outing of the season, finishing with a game-high 41 points, a game-high tying eight assists, two rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes of play. The fourth-year guard registered his 41-point performance through only three quarters of play, marking his fourth outing of 40-or-more points through three quarters this season, the most by a Hawk since at least the 1993-94 campaign, per Elias Sports. Young, who has dished out at least five assists in all 10 of his games with 40-or-more points, has the most 40-point, five-assist outings in the NBA this season.

The Oklahoma product followed up his 41-point outing with a 30-point, nine-assist effort the following night in a 131-107 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. With his 30th point of the game, Young netted his 2,000th point of the 2021-22 season, becoming the first Hawk since Dominique Wilkins (1992-93) to pour in at least 2,000 points in a single season.

Young finished the week tallying his NBA-leading 19th 30-point, 10-assist outing of the season, notching a team-high 36 points, a game-high 10 assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes in a 122-115 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, April 2nd. It marked his 50th career outing of 30-or-more points and 10-or-more assists, only eight such games away from tying Magic Johnson for the seventh-most 30-point, 10-assist games in NBA history.

This season, the 6’1 guard is currently ranked first in the NBA in total assists (692) and second in total points (2,036). He’s the only player in franchise history to tally at least 2,000 points and 600 assists in a single season.

Behind Young’s leadership, the Hawks have won five straight games, the longest active winning streak in the Eastern Conference. Over those five contests, Atlanta is averaging 128.4 points, 45.8 rebounds and 26.4 assists, winning by an average margin of 13.8 points per game (.503 FG%, .414 3FG%, .813 FT%). The Hawks, who started last week 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, have moved into sole possession of the eighth spot.

This is the sixth career Player of the Week honor for Young and his third of the 2021-22 season (Nov. 29, Jan. 24, April 4).

Young joins Dominique Wilkins as the only Hawks to win the NBA’s weekly award three times in the same season.

Time for the Cavs to focus on Play-In Tournament

The Cavs headed to Atlanta to battle the Hawks Thursday night in the second game of a back-to-back.

Cleveland lost to the Mavericks 120-112 Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Atlanta dominated and led from wire to wire and defeated the Cavs 131-107 at State Farm Arena.

Trae Young had a game-high 30 points and nine assists; Kevin Huerter had 23 points. The Hawks had six players in double figures.

Cedi Osman led the Cavs with 21 points off the bench.

Cleveland(42-35) dropped their second straight, while the Hawks(40-37) have won four straight and five of their last six.

Here is the Great, the Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks.

The Great for the Cavs:

You lose by 24 points and trail from start to finish; there’s really nothing extraordinary, but let’s show some love to Moses Brown, who signed a two-way contract with the Cavs earlier in the day. Brown had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

EVERYTHING!!

The Cavs’ starting forwards of Caris LeVert and Lauri Markkanen combined for 17 points on 7/17 shooting from the floor. LeVert had nine points, while Markkanen had eight. They needed more from these two guys. 

Turnovers: The Cavs had 15 turnovers in their loss to Dallas, and they came back and committed 14 more turnovers Thursday night, which led to 24 points for the Hawks. 

Three-Point Shooting: Cleveland did not guard the three very well, and they could not make many threes either. The Cavs were 7/30 from three-point range. Both Dylan Windler(0/5 3-PT FG) and Kevin Love(2-7) miss five threes apiece. Conversely, the Hawks made 17 threes.

Defense: For the second consecutive night, Cleveland gave up 100 points after three quarters. Against Dallas on Wednesday night, they allowed 120 points in regulation. Thursday night, Cleveland gave up 131 points, which is unacceptable, but again, not surprising when two of your best defensive bigs(Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley) are sitting in street clothes. The Hawks shot 50% from the floor.

Third Quarter: Against the Mavs Wednesday night, the Cavs were outscored 39-22, and Thursday night versus the Hawks, their third-quarter woes continued as they were outscored 34-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 55% from the floor in the quarter and held the Cavs to 32% shooting from the field, including 1/3 from downtown. Atlanta led by 13 at halftime and had a 100-75 lead after three quarters. 

Bottom Line:

This was a bad performance for the Cavs, but these games happen in the NBA. Cleveland is a tired, depleted team who, at this point, is limping to the finish line. Unfortunately, they’ll have four games in five nights, so there’s no rest for the weary.

The way they’re playing right now, the Cavs may not win another game in the regular season. However, maybe this loss could wake them up.

With fives games left, they trail the fifth-seeded Bulls(45-32) by three games and the sixth-seeded Raptors(44-32) by 2 1/2 games, so that situation looks bleak.

It’s all about the Play-In Tournament for the Cavs. If they stay at the seventh or eighth seed, Cleveland would have two opportunities to win one game to make the playoffs, which is very doable, especially when you consider that they could have two home games(if necessary) in this tournament.

Currently, the seventh-seeded Cavs have a two-game lead over Brooklyn(40-37), Charlotte(40-37), and the Hawks(40-37), so they are in decent shape. 

At the end of the day, the Cavs just need to start playing better!

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads to New York City to battle the Knicks Saturday night.

Best of the Rest:

Earlier in the day, the Cavs announced that they had converted the contract of guard RJ Nembhard to a standard NBA contract.

The 23-year-old Nembhard has appeared in 13 games this season for the Cavaliers as well as 13 games (12 starts) with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ exclusively-owned and operated NBA G League team. With the Charge, Nembhard averaged 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in 37.7 minutes. Nembhard went undrafted in 2021 after playing four seasons at Texas Christian University.

-Darius Garland had 18 points and eight assists against the Hawks. The All-Star recorded his 171st assists in the month of March, which is a team record.

Listen below as Osman reacts to loss to Hawks:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff is happy with team as they head into All-Star Break

The Cavs traveled to Atlanta to battle the Hawks in their last game before the All-Star break, and as they did against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, Cleveland ran into another All-Star starter, who was at his best. 

Trae Young had 41 points(13/22 FG) and nine assists as the Hawks defeated the Cavs 124-116 at State Farm Arena.

The Cavs(35-23) have dropped two straight, and the Hawks(27-30) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland has been great the whole first half of the season, and he continued that greatness Tuesday night. The All-Star had a team-high 30 points and eight assists. Garland is averaging 28 points and five assists in the last three games. 

-Evan Mobley scored over 20-plus points for the eighth time this season as he had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also added four assists and four steals. 

First Quarter Kevin Love:  In the first quarter, Love had 14 points(4/5 3 FG), including four threes. Love also had a milestone in the first as he scored his 14,000th career point. He became the fourth player in NBA history to have 14,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 1,400 threes made. The other three players to do it were LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd.

-Jarrett Allen, but not for anything he did on Tuesday night. After James Harden withdrew from the All-Star game due to injury, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Allen would replace Harden.

The first-time All-Star was snubbed when the All-Star reserves were initially announced; he once again was snubbed when LaMelo Ball replaced an injured Kevin Durant.

However, Allen would finally get the call on Monday. 

Going into the break, Allen is averaging 16.2 points, 11. 0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks per contest. The points, rebounds, and assists are all career-highs.

Allen finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists Tuesday night.

First Quarter: The first quarter has been an issue for the Cavs of late. Cleveland trailed after the first quarter in the last seven games, but that streak was snapped Tuesday night. Love(14) and Garland(10) combined for 24 of Cleveland’s 36 points. The Cavs shot 56% from the floor, including 67%(8/12) from deep, and Cleveland led 36-34 after one.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

-Fast Break Points: The Cavs allowed the Hawks to get out in transition as Atlanta had 16 fast- break points. The Hawks are 29th(9.4 PPG) in fast-break points, but they moving and grooving Tuesday night.

Cleveland scored 116 points on 51% shooting from the floor Tuesday night, but unfortunately, they allowed the Hawks to score 124 points on 54% shooting from the field. Cleveland had difficulty keeping Young under control without fouling as he shot more free throws(13) than the whole Cavs’ team(12). The 124 points were the most points the Cavs have given up since their season-opening loss to Memphis, where they allowed 132 points. 

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs trailed 94-90 after three. They got to 99-98 with just under ten minutes to go, and Atlanta went on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 105-98. Cleveland cut the lead to 113-109 with over four minutes left, but the Hawks went on a 7-2 run to push the lead to nine. 

Kevin Love after the first quarter: After scoring 14 points on 4/5 from three-point range in the first, Love struggled the rest of the way. He scored seven points on 3/12 shooting from the field, including 1/ 4 from downtown. He finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds.

-Caris LeVert had an off-shooting night against the Hawks. He was 4/12 from the floor, including 1/6 from deep, and finished with nine points off the bench. After scoring 22 points(10/19 FG) in the win over Indiana, LeVert was 9/28 from the floor in the last two games.

Bottom Line:

Even though the Cavs have lost two straight heading into the break, they should be pleased about their start to the season. Not many expected the Cavs to win 35 games this season, and Cleveland has that number after 58 games, so that’s a win for this team.

They have to gear up for the second half of the season and the playoffs. Cleveland will have a busy month of March, as 13 of their 16 games are against playoff teams, so that won’t be easy.

As they head to the break, Cleveland(fourth seed) is two games behind the Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

“We lost to two good basketball teams, two players that are elite players in Trae Young and Joel Embiid,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “They had great nights and they had to have great nights to beat us, so we’ll go back obviously and come back confident and ready to go.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns from the All-Star break on February 24 when they travel to Detroit to battle the Pistons.

Best of the Rest:

-Danilo Gallinari added 25 points, and De’Andre Hunter chipped in with 18 for the Hawks. 

-Cleveland’s Lauri Markkanen missed his 11th straight game with an ankle injury.

-For the fourth time this season, Cleveland had three 20-point scorers(Garland, Mobley, Love) in a game.

Watch below as Garland and Mobley talk loss to Hawks:

Trae Young named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Jan. 17-23, the NBA announced today.

Young led the Hawks to a perfect 4-0 record this past week, averaging 31.3 points (3rd-most in the Eastern Conference), 4.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists (tied 3rd-most in the Eastern Conference) and 1.0 steal in 36.6 minutes of action (.464 FG%, .476 3FG%, .911 FT%). Young was the only player in the Eastern Conference this past week to average 30-or-more points and nine-or-more assists per game, while his .476 3FG% and .911 FT% led the league (min. 35 and 25 attempts, respectively).

The fourth-year point guard recorded back-to-back 30-or-more point, 10-or-more assist outings in two come-from-behind victories this past week, marking his third set of back-to-back 30+ point, 10+ assist contests this season. He surpassed Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul for the 10th-most such games in NBA history with his 41st career 30-point, 10-assist game on Monday, Jan. 17 against Milwaukee (30 points, 11 assists).

In a 134-122 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Jan. 19, Young poured in 23 of his game-high 37 points in the third quarter (7-9 FG, 5-6 3FG, 4-4 FT). His 23 third quarter points marked a career-high for points scored in a third quarter, as well as the second-most points scored in any quarter of his career, and the most third quarter points by a Hawk in the last 25 seasons. Young finished the game with 37 points, 14 assists, five rebounds and one steal in 36 minutes (.588 FG%, .600 3FG%, 1.000 FT%). He became the first player in NBA history to tally 35+ points, 14+ assists and 5+ rebounds, while shooting .500-or-better from the floor, .600-or-better from deep and a perfect 1.000 clip from the charity stripe in a single game.

Young registered a game-high 28 points and a team-high seven assists in a 110-108 win over the Miami Heat on Friday, Jan. 21. He followed that performance with a game-high 30 points against the Charlotte Hornets in the team’s final game of the week on Sunday, Jan. 23. Young connected on a career-high eight three-pointers on Sunday for the second time this season and seventh time in his career.

The Oklahoma product led the Hawks past four teams this week with .500-or-better records at the time of competition: Milwaukee (27-18), Minnesota (22-22), Miami (29-16) and Charlotte (26-20). On Sunday, Atlanta held Charlotte to an opponent franchise-low .111 3FG% (min. 20 attempts) and the ninth-lowest three-point percentage in NBA history (min. 30 attempts).

This season, Young is the only player to be ranked in the top-5 in points per game (28.0, 5th) and assists per game (9.3, 3rd). He owns an NBA-leading 11 30+ point, 10+ assist games this season, while his 21 points/assists double-doubles are tied for second-most.

This is the fifth career Player of the Week honor for Young and his second of the 2021-22 season.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hawks: ‘We let our guard down and it came back to bite us’

The Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Friday night against the Hawks. Cleveland got the start they wanted and had a 15-point halftime lead.

However, the Hawks picked it up in the second half and took the lead for good in the third. Cleveland had one last chance to tie the game late, but Kevin Pangos missed a three at the buzzer, and Atlanta defeated the Cavaliers 121-118.

Cleveland(20-16) has now lost three straight and four out of the last five, and Atlanta(16-19) snapped their three-game losing streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Love is in the air!! Kevin Love had a season and team-high 35 points, including a game-high seven threes, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 30 minutes of action. According to Elias Sports, he’s the only Cavaliers’ player to tally 35-plus points and 10-plus rebounds off the bench since 1975. Love has been a great weapon off the bench, and this is his fourth straight game of 20-plus points or more. 

-Jarrett Allen is back after missing four games due to health and safety protocols. Allen picked up where he left off and scored 21 points(9/11 FG) and grabbed eight rebounds.

-Evan Mobley just gets it done. The rookie stuffed the stat sheet Friday night. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists, and blocked three shots. This season, Mobley has tallied 14 multi-block games and leads all NBA rookies in blocked shots (51 blocks).

-Brandon Goodwin signed with the Cavaliers Friday and made his debut the same day. He had 13 points, six assists, four rebounds in 25 minutes of action off the bench. 

First Half: Cleveland shot 70% from the field(28/40 FG), including 5/11 from downtown in the first half. The Cavs shared the ball as they had 19 assists on 28 field goals. Cleveland had 42 points in the paint and took a 66-51 lead at halftime.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Third Quarter: Things got bad for the Cavs in the third. Atlanta went on an 11-0 run to take a three-point late and outscored the Cavs 40-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 62% from the floor, and Trae Young scored 12 of his 35 points in the third as Atlanta took a 91-88 lead into the fourth.

Three-point shooting: In the past three games, including Friday’s night loss to the Hawks. Cleveland has shot the three ball well in the first quarter, but it falls apart after that.

On Friday night, the Cavaliers shot 4/6 from deep in the first quarter. After that, they were 4/19 from three-point range against Atlanta.

In the last three games, they’ve shot (17/27)63% from three in the first quarter. However, in quarters two through four, they’ve shot 13/67(19%) the rest of the way.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needs point guard help badly, and it continues to be a struggle without Garland and Ricky Rubio. Fortunately, Garland will be back at some point. It’s a difficult time for the Cavaliers, just like every NBA team, because of health and safety protocols.

We’ve seen what the Cavs look like when they’re whole, and that will happen soon enough, minus Rubio. In addition, they will get Rajon Rondo, so maybe that will help.

However, give Young credit. He’s a star, and stars make things happen, and that’s what he did Friday night for the Hawks.

“We were complacent because we had a lead, but you have to understand they’ve got winners over there who just went to the Eastern Conference finals,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We let our guard down and it came back to bite us.”

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers return to action Sunday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

-Atlanta had six players in double figures. Young led the Hawks with 35 points and 11 assists. Clint Capela added 18 points and 23 rebounds, and Skylar Mays chipped in with 19 points.

-Isaac Okoro added 10 points(4/4 FG) for the Cavs. Cleveland was without Garland (Health and Safety Protocols) and Cedi Osman (Health and Safety Protocols).

-Atlanta had 12 players out due to health and safety protocols: Bodgan Bogdanovic, John Collins,  Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng,  Malik Ellison, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Malcolm Hill, Jalen Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, Delon Wright.

 

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will’

The Atlanta Hawks came into the 2021-22 season trying to prove that last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals wasn’t a fluke, while the Mavericks, with a new coach in Jason Kidd, are hoping to make a deep playoff run of their own. 

After one game, Atlanta looks deeper than they did last season and a team that will definitely be a factor in Eastern Conference. The Hawks had six players in double figures led by Cam Reddish’s 20 points off the bench, Trae Young had 19 points and 14 assists, and John Collins 16 points and nine rebounds as the Hawks routed the Mavericks 113-87 at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night.

The Hawks were big-time on the defensive end; they held the Mavericks to 33% shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers. Atlanta blew the game open in the third quarter with 22-8 run. The Hawks led by as many as 22 points in the third and had their largest lead of 30 in the fourth. 

Young got off in the third. He scored 12 points and nine assists in the quarter, and Kidd, who knows a lot about excellent point guard play, talked about Young’s passing and Dallas’ struggles in the third.

“He’s improved, and I said that before,” Kidd said about Young. “He’s gotten better each year on the one side of passing the ball and not turning it over… “In the first half, we couldn’t ask for a better defensive performance. We just couldn’t make any shots. You’re talking about an All-Star in Young.. We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will.”

Doncic, who led the Mavericks with 18 points on 6/17 shooting from the field, added on the third quarter: “They were making shots, and we weren’t making shots. They played great defense, and we weren’t at their level on defense, so that’s it.”

The Mavericks may struggle initially as the team learns to adjust to Kidd’s new offense and style, and it’s only one of 82, so there’s not much to worry about at this point. Plus, Atlanta appears to be a very good team.

Dallas gets back at it on Saturday in Toronto against the Raptors. 

 

 

Hawks extend Young, re-sign Collins, Williams

The Atlanta Hawks have signed point guard Trae Young to a max contract extension, which begins with the 2022-23 season, re-signed F John Collins and G Lou Williams, the team announced on Friday.

According to reports, Young signed a five-year, $172 million rookie max contract extension. Collins reportedly signed a five-year deal worth $125 million, and Williams signed a reported one-year deal worth $5 million.

Most recently, Young, 22, helped lead the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Atlanta franchise history, averaging 28.8 points and 9.5 assists per game during the team’s run. The three-year veteran became the first player in NBA history to post at least 20 points and seven-or-more assists in each of his first 13 career playoff games.

In 63 starts last season, Collins, 23, averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 blocks in 29.3 minutes. The four-year veteran finished 18th in the NBA in FG%, tied for 23rd in rpg and 26th in bpg.  

During the Hawks’ recent run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Collins put in 13.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

In 66 games last season (24 with the Hawks and 42 with the Clippers), the 34-year-old Williams averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds in 21.6 minutes. The 16-year veteran is a three-time winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award (2015, 2018, 2019, tied with Jamal Crawford for the most in league history).

The Hawks have a nice young core, and Young, who had a tremendous playoff run, is turning into one of the best point guards in basketball. Collins is young, athletic, and continues to grow his game. Hopefully, he continues to grow after getting paid. Williams is not a walking bucket any longer, but he can still score.

Atlanta might be better next season, but it might not be good enough. Even though they beat Philadelphia in the playoffs, I think 76ers, Bucks, and Nets are still better for now, but the Hawks are still a franchise that is trending upwards.

 

 

Listen to Go4it! Guest: Ex-NBA player C.J. Watson

Former NBA player C.J. Watson talks Chris Paul, Trae Young, can the Bucks win the Finals without Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Watson believes that Derrick Rose is Hall of Famer, Ben Simmons has to shoot if he wants to be better, Dame Lillard’s future in Portland, can LeBron James win another title, and who is the best player in basketball?

C.J. talks Foundation and children’s books:

quietstormfoundation.org

cjpens.com

Listen below:

Antetokounmpo on Middleton: ‘We were like, get the hell out of the way, give him the ball’

After struggling with his shot in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Hawks, Khris Middleton finally came alive at the right time, and that time was the fourth quarter of Game 3.

Middleton scored 20 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter as the Bucks defeated the Hawks 113-102 on Sunday night at State Farm Arena to take a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 is on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

In the first two games of the series, Middleton, who also added 11 rebounds and seven assists on Sunday night, scored a combined 30 points, and he almost did that in the fourth quarter on Sunday night. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Middleton is the first Bucks player with 20 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game over the last 25 postseasons.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, but tonight was about Middleton. 

“Some games it’s me, some games it’s Giannis(Antetokounmpo), some games it’s Jrue(Holiday),” Middleton said. “We all have a great feel about who has it going, who has the best matchup, and who can create the best looks. When it’s my turn or my time to have it, I’m thinking the same way: just try to get the best shot up for everybody.”

Antetokounmpo added on Middleton: “Greatness. Greatness. What I saw today was unbelievable. He was freaking unbelievable. Carried the team at the end. Man, like he turned the ball over two times, and after that, he was locked in and like “pass me the ball,” and we gave him the ball. There’s moments that is we know when to set screens for him, and we know when he wants the ball, and that was the moment. We were like, get the hell out of the way, give him the ball, take us home, Khris, and that’s what he did.”

Trae Young led the Hawks with 35 points and four assists, but he injured his ankle late in the third quarter after he stepped on referee Sean Wright’s foot. Young, who is expected to get an MRI on Monday, returned in the fourth quarter, but he was clearly limited. 

“It was really my blow-by speed,” Young said. “That’s a big part of my game, my ability to blow by anybody. When you’re on the left side, and you’re trying to blow by, you’ve got to use your right foot. So my left-hand pass to Bogey — I was going down the left side; it was in a lot of pain going back. Like I said, it’s more just the push-off and the blow-by….

“When I came back in, it was kind of sore. It made me mad I couldn’t really go as fast as I wanted to, and when I did, it hurt. So I’ve just got to get treatment and hopefully get it better for the next game.”

If Young is not healthy, the Hawks don’t have a shot in this series. It’s a tough break for Young and the Hawks, but again, Game 3 was all about the greatness of Middleton.