Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Look At The Second Half Of The Season For The Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are about to start the second half of the regular season and there are many things to look forward to. Among them are the trade deadline and the push for home court advantage in the playoffs.

Rumors are swirling about Atlanta trading hometown favorite Josh Smith. Smith was snubbed out of the NBA All star Game even though he averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game. He has many off-nights but he will have to bring the energy and intensity every game if he wants to make a run with the Hawks in the playoffs and remain in Atlanta. The trade deadline is February 21st and we will see if the Hawks will accept any teams' offers for Smith or if they will stay content and decide to negotiate with him on a new contract before free agency this summer.
Hawks' Forward Josh Smith

The Hawks are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They started the New Year at 20-10 and are now 29-22 at the all star break. Atlanta lost shooting guard Lou Williams for the rest of the season due to a knee injury suffered against the Brooklyn Nets in January. The Hawks won two games in a row with wins against Dallas and Orlando before the all star break with clutch shooting from players such as Kyle Korver, Anthony Tolliver, and DeShawn Stevenson. Atlanta will look to seek more contributions from these role players. Point guard Devin Harris has been in a slump lately but will look to regain his shooting stroke in the second half of the season.

The Eastern Conference is in such a tight race heading into the playoffs. If teams such as the Nets or Pacers lose in one night, it helps teams like the Hawks, Bulls or Celtics make a quick leap in the standings. Atlanta has to play smart basketball and beat some of these contenders.

Aside from Josh Smith, point guard Jeff Teague has to take a high leadership role and have control over this team. He has to make smart decisions and not make costly turnovers. The Hawks drafted Teague in 2009 to be the point guard that they've been desperately looking for to build around.
Hawks' Center Al Horford

Two-time all star Al Horford has to control the paint. Offensive rebounding has been a problem for Atlanta in many games and if Horford crashes the boards every single game, the Hawks can be dangerous. This also applies to big men Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson who give Atlanta good contributions with their scoring and rebounds off the bench.

The Hawks hold their own fate. The Eastern Conference is competitive with many teams who can do damage in the playoffs such as the defending champion Miami Heat and teams under the radar such as the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers. Atlanta has to stay healthy and head coach Larry Drew has to instill a winning mentality to the team. We will see how the second half turns out for these rising Atlanta Hawks.-Yuriy A.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Atlanta Falcons Season Review

It was a wild year for the Atlanta Falcons. They had a 13-3 regular season record and an amazing run but ended in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. From all of their fourth quarter comeback wins to their playoff win against Seattle, it was an exciting season.

Falcons' QB Matt Ryan
The Falcons had a lot of pressure on them heading into training camp. The critics constantly bashed them by saying that they couldn't win a playoff game. This is mainly due to the Falcons' high quality performance in the regular season but not in the playoffs. Atlanta wanted to get their first playoff win since 2004 and achieve higher aspirations.

The Falcons surprised everybody and started the season 8-0. Their first loss came against the rival New Orleans Saints in the Super Dome. Atlanta had many opportunities to get into the end zone in the second half but just couldn't capitalize. The Falcons then went 2-2 in their last four regular season games. Another key victory was on December 16th against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Atlanta won in a blowout, 34-0.

QB Matt Ryan had an outstanding season. He threw for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdown passes. RB Michael Turner scored 10 touchdowns despite not reaching the 1,000 yard mark. The WR tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White had a phenomenal year. Jones had 79 catches for 1,198 yards with 10 touchdown catches and made his first Pro Bowl. White had 92 catches for 1,351 yards and seven touchdown catches.

Matt Ryan was always clutch in the fourth quarter. He has 16 career fourth quarter comebacks and 23 game winning drives. No matter how much time was left on the clock, he got his team down the field quickly and always got into the end zone or had help from kicker Matt Bryant to kick the game winning field goal.
WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White
LB Stephen Nicolas was the leading tackler with 97 and Thomad DeCoud had a team high six interceptions. The defense had a great regular season despite losing Brent Grimes for most of the season.

The Falcons will also try to convince hall of fame TE Tony Gonzalez not to retire. Gonzalez had 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He also made his 13th Pro Bowl appearance. Gonzalez holds the records for TD receptions (107) and total receiving yards (14,268) by a tight end.

It will be an interesting offseason for Atlanta. They can put the right pieces together from the draft and free agency to get over the playoff hump and make the Super Bowl. The Falcons will have to get through contenders such as San Francisco and Green Bay if they want to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

It was a fun season and I enjoyed covering the Atlanta Falcons. I will also cover their free agency and what they do on draft night. So until then, Rise Up Atlanta!!!-Yuriy A.