Let's Just Enjoy This
by Brandon Leak
The Atlanta Hawks have a successful season. In fact, the most successful in franchise history. 60 victories in the regular season, 19 connective wins, 17-0 in January, four All-Stars (who all played on the floor together during the 2015 All-Star Game), the starting five named January players of the month, Coach of The Year, earning the number one over all seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, a win over the Brooklyn Nets in six games, a win over the Washington Wizards in six games and hosting the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ... whew!
Dominique Wilkins was immortalized with "Nique Week," culminating in a statue outside of Philips arena in March. The team set records for sell-outs and set new marks for home and road victories.
A team that was the eighth seed in last years' postseason run shocked the city and the basketball world this year. Overcoming embarrassing comments from an owner and a GM were hurdles the team where able to negotiate by bringing the city together with wins.
In June of 2014, reading from a scouting report, Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry said on a conference call referring to Luol Deng, “he has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.” That got him removed from the team for the rest of the season.
In August of 2014, Owner Bruce Levenson wrote among other things in an email about his arena:
— it’s 70 pct black
— the cheerleaders are black
— the music is hip hop
— at the bars it’s 90 pct black
— we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
He went on to add too many black people were on the "kiss cam," and black people were the reason attendance was low. All of which were apparently bad things and clearly wrong in his warped mind. Same black folks helped set attendance records. Decent people of all races should be offended by both sets of comments.
What a disaster the season could've been if not for the wins. But the coach and the team pressed forward, executed a fun system to watch and dazzled fans at home and on the road through the haul of the NBA season.
The Hawks do need to questions to answer moving forward:
-Will they keep Paul Millsap who will be 31-years-old next year?
-Will they keep Kyle Korver who will be 35-years-old next year?
-How much is DeMarre Carroll worth?
-Will the team get a big man to help rebound?
-Does the team need to upgrade the bench?
-Will the General Manager be back to make decisions?
We'll get to those this summer in the meantime - reveling in this season is what we need to do for a while.
This season should never be forgotten. Old, young, natives and transplants should hold on to programs, t-shirts, jerseys, pictures and memories from one of the all-time great seasons in Atlanta history.
Don't Change a Thing
by "Hometeam" Brandon Leak
The Hawks open up first round playoff action against the Brooklyn Nets. Not a bad draw given the Hawks owned the Nets in the regular season to a tune of 4-0. The Hawks were too fast, played better defense and rained three-point baskets in all four regular season tilts. Jeff Teague averaged nearly 15 points and dished out nine assists per game against the Nets defense, Paul Millsap got whatever he wanted and the Hawks ran up the score on a Brooklyn team that is older and slower.
The Nets are big team inside with Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee. Joe Johnson can still knock down three-pointers but is only going to get around 16 points per game. Deron Williams has not shown the flashes of brilliance he did in his younger days and does not take over games. The X-factor for the Nets is Thaddeus Young who came over mid-season in a trade who could score at the rim and make shots from the outside.
That said, the Hawks don't need to do one thing differently playing the Nets. Ball movement has worn out the Brooklyn defense all year and the Hawks' bench play has been solid helping to find ways to beat the Nets on the glass when needed. Keep the same philosophy which is get up early, set the tempo and convert Brooklyn misfires into offense. The Nets have had a tough time because the Hawks are a well-balanced team, they will have a tough time this series not being swept.
Spring Cleaning for the Braves and Hawks by "Hometeam" Brandon Leak
The Braves did what they had to do they cleaned up a mess that needed fixing. Closer Craig Kimbrel and outfileder Melvin Upton Jr. were dealt to the Padres in a six player deal on opening day. Former GM Frank Wren signed then (BJ) Upton to a $75 million dollar and Dan Uggla to a $34 million dollar contract and got nothing from both players. As a result, the new GM John Hart has cleaned up an old mess but at a tremendous cost.
The price, Uggla, Upton and his brother Justin, Evan Gattis, Jason Heyward and now Kimbrel. It hurts but is necessary. Hart has a proven record in Cleveland making that franchise extremely successful in the '90's. The Braves will have six of the first 89 picks in the MLB draft to replenish the their farm system which has been depleted. It stings now but the future of the Braves looks bright with a clean new house coming in 2017.
The Hawks should shut all of the starters down now! With six games remaining, the number one seed in the east locked up and forward Paul Millsap injuring his shoulder against the Nets, it was a sign that the regular season is over.
Health is the most important dynamic for the Hawks this post season and that is something that can be controlled by giving starters the old DNP-CD (did not play-coaches decision). The Hawks can get through the first round against Boston, Charlotte, Indiana or Miami so getting the top players rest is of paramount importance for the second round.
This has been a historic season for the birds and the ride can continue in the second season but health has to favor the good guys to pull off a deep playoff run. Al Horford missing the post season last year clearly made a difference. The Hawks control their own fate ..they need to control the amount of minutes the starters see the final two weeks of the season.
Football and Hoops Madness for March
The Hawks don't have change a thing. They pass well, shoot well, make free-throws and play good team defense. The team is flat out special and doesn't get rattled by opponents. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap are the two most dynamic players on the team. Kyle Korver is beyond ridiculous from behind the three-point line. Team defense is overlooked as this team consistently holds opponents to less than 100 points per game. Throw in great coaching and a good culture and boom! The Hawks are the most dangerous team in the NBA ... still.
Need to take their time this season. No need to rush into spending big money on just names. The Falcons need to draft well and do so for more than just this season. The Falcons need balance as defense isn't the only problem. The birds need offensive lineman, running backs a tight end and maybe help with wide receiving depth. This is a mulit-year project and thinking it is not is insane. Let's be smart not crazy.
Georgia State Panthers Basketball
Have to play good defense and take care of the ball in order to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The team was a basket away last year from going to the NCAA Tournament. R.J. Hunter and Markus Crider can be a good inside-outside tandem. Ryan Harrow is a x-factor with an injury headed into tournament play. Ryann Green has been excellent defensively and taking the ball away will be huge for the Panthers to advance. I think they will.
Georgia Bulldogs Basketball
The dawgs are going to "The Dance." Good for them and for head coach Mark Fox. The dawgs showed heart twice against Kentucky and have a good rebounding team. J.J. Frazier and Charles Mann are guards that can score. Marcus Thornton plays like a grown man and Kenny Gaines loves to take big shots. Nemanja Djurisic gives the dawgs size in the post. The team has the pieces to surprise someone this march.
Need to do get back on the map. They need to recruit, the need to get depth and they need to get swagger back. Tech has great tradition and facilities and they need to rely on both to get back to good basketball.
The Falcons need to beat up on bad teams until the defense gets straight. After a 2-1 start the birds showed they can score with an average of more than 46 points per game in their wins. Both victories came at home and they have a great chance at their first road win in 2014 Sunday. Facing an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings club along with rookie Teddy Bridgewater getting his first start, the birds need to send heat all day. The Vikings defense is solid so it won't be easy but should be a win.
Fredi Gonzalez is not the problem yet. Fredi should've played Jordan Schafer more when he had the chance but Shafer was not going to save the braves because everybody else ... still can't hit. GM Frank Wren is a nice man but made some mistakes that were fatal leading to his dismissal. Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton, Derek Lowe,Kenshin Kawakami to name a few ... by the way Schafer is a career .229 hitter.
Under .500?! The Braves fans deserve better and the Braves should be better. Change was needed.
Georgia Bulldogs (2-1)
Blew out Troy 66-0. I would've like to see Hutson Mason throw more than 11 times as he will be needed to win games this season with his arm. Mason has the tools to be a good trigger man and the Dawgs can't solely rely on Todd Gurley to save the day all season. Freshman Sony Michel ran wild amassing 155 yards on 10 carries good to see him make the most of his opportunity.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-0)
At 4-0 they are the only undefeated team in town. QB Justin Thomas was named ACC Player of The Week and the Jackets have a big opportunity next week to get great positioning in the ACC if they can beat Miami. "The U" is coming off of a loss to Nebraska and doesn't want to fall too far behind the Jackets and Duke in the Costal division.
Georgia State Panthers (1-3)
Played a great first half of football on the road shutting out the Washington Huskies 14-0 in the first half at Husky Stadium. Special Teams turned the tide for the Huskies in the second half while their size and speed wore down the Panthers' defense. A week of rest is needed as Panthers leading rusher Kyler Neal left the game injured. The Panthers will need a good running attack Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns next week.
Atlanta Hawks (0-for Public Perception)
Have media day next Monday, September 29, 2014. They have a lot of work to do.
Why the Falcons should win
by Hometeam Brandon Leak
1-They are at home
The Falcons are 36-12 in the Georgia Dome under Mike Smith, third best in the NFC since 2008. The crowd will be off of the chain for the first NFL game and it could be a playoff-like atmosphere. Fast starts and comeback wins happen in that building.
2-More Receivers for Matt Ryan
The departure of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez certainly will be missed but the void in the offense could make the Falcons' passing attack ... better.
Matt Ryan will have more targets in his passing routes. Julio Jones and Roddy White will get the lion's share of passes but Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Levine Toilolo, Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith will ALL catch passes. That's nine potential targets for a man who threw for more than 4,000 yards last season. Someone will be open always.
3-The Falcons usually win close games.
Falcons/Saints games are traditionally close and the Falcons win 64 percent of games decided by eight points or less. Matt Bryant can be a big weapon in the first half and for a game-winner in the clutch.
The Falcons had the Saints week one last year. A dropped pass by Steven Jackson on 3rd and game and a batted-ball intercepted on 4th and game stopped a Falcons win. The guys remember it and were mad about it. They will look to win this game for this year and last.
5-Better run D
The Falcons and no team will stop quarterback Drew Brees. If the Falcons stop the run they have a better chance of winning. Pierre Thomas has averaged nearly 90 yards per game in his last few games against the Falcons. Mark Ingram and Khyri Robinson have to be stopped as well. Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson brought in to be run-stoppers will prove their weight in gold out of the gate.
You know how it goes no matter what happens, the game will be decided in the final four minutes of the contest. The Falcons should win.