Two wins, both by double digits. Not too shabby as the Hawks beat the suddenly spry Charlotte Bobcats (7-5) in their house Friday night, then kicked off a five game homey by splitting the season series against the Los Angeles Clippers (8-5), keeping them at arms length the entire game in a 104-93 win.
But what did we learn? Bullets, please:
- Jeff Teague continues to step up.
He still loses his man too much on the perimeter defensively and is not master of the fast break, where he is obviously more comfortable finishing himself than distributing, BUT
Teague had back to back double digit assist games, totaling 23 assists against 8 turnovers, almost a 3 to 1 ratio that is excellent. He continues to keep his assist rate above 40%, another high mark for the playmaker.
- Zaza Pachulia is a whole lot of fun.
Zaza has more rebounds overall than Josh Smith and only nine fewer than Al Horford in 25 percent fewer minutes overall. His 33 offensive rebounds lead the team, and is 13th overall in Offensive Rebound Rate nationally.
When he is on his game, he is such a positive force, and the +7.5 net difference in offensive/defensive efficiency when Pachulia is on the court leads the team.
- That core of Teague, Horford and Smith is playoff caliber.
The lineup that played the most minutes against the Bobcats:
Horford/ Kyle Korver/ Smith/ DeShawn Stevenson/ Teague
22 minutes, 23/38 from the field, 8/12 from 3-pt range, four steals, seven blocks and a +21 number
The lineup that played the most minutes against the Clippers:
18 minutes, 15/30 from the field, +17 number
By far the most effective lineup to date has been the lineup used against the Bobcats. In the 68 minutes that lineup has seen the floor, the offensive efficiency is 121.0 against a defensive efficiency of 89.8.
While Drew is maintaining a matchup approach to at least one of the starting slots, it's clear that he is committed to playing Horford/Smith/Teague and Korver together which brings me to......
- I'm sold on Kyle Korver.
His game winner against the Wizards was fine enough to move him into Jamal Crawford status as far as popularity, but it's been the better than expected nature of his defense that has allowed him to stay on the court.
Much like I miss Jamal's four point plays here and his outlandish ability to stick unreal shots, I think that if Korver is not back in Atlanta next season I'll miss the crazy quick release and accuracy from long range. Such a sudden weapon on the court.
- Somebody has broken Al Horford's free throw shooting.
I mean Josh Smith, too, but who could have expected Al Horford to go all icky-kablooie on his free throws. Horford is a career 75 percent free throw shooter. This year? 47.2%.
Smith and Horford have combined for a 31-68 effort from the line over the team's first 12 games. Since they have only played eleven, consider that if they simply shot their regular percentages, that they would have added 1.5 points per game for the Hawks. (10 more total points for Horford and seven more for Josh = 17 points/11 games = 1.54 points per game).
- Ivan Johnson has been silly good so far.
First there is the matter of the 65 percent eFG% and the 63 TS%. Wow. And it's not all inside as almost half his shots are coming from outside 10 feet. Also, his defensive rebounding rate leads the team and is second to Zaza in offensive rebounding rate. All while being under control and being unofficially second to Josh Smith in taking offensive fouls near the restricted area.
- Taking care of business.
Yes, the team needed a Wizards snatching defeat from the jaws of victory moment to win before the weekend, but the team really handled themselves well in Charlotte and against the Clippers, the latter really being worse than the final score indicated.
The team is playing together more than at any moment during the Hawks' playoff run. There are fewer stretches where the team looks completely off the rails and this is due to the quality of the roster put together by Danny Ferry.
Exit Question: What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend?