The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Miami Heat 112-102 Wednesday night for their fourth straight win and their sixth in their last seven games. Things seem to be coming together at the right time as the bench production has been on the rise and that is a great thing to see in support of the starters.
Atlanta's defensive effort still seems to be up and down. They are 21st in the league currently in defensive rating at 104.9 per 100 possessions but have cut into that considerably since last week's loss to the Toronto Raptors. Still its been an excellent and efficient offense that has made the most difference. The Hawks are currently fourth in offensive rating at 107.5 trailing only the Mavericks, Raptors and Clippers. They won Wednesday night despite allowing the Heat to shoot 56 percent from the field and make 32 trips to the free throw line. Atlanta's defense was opportunistic in helping force 19 turnovers but this game was won at the offensive end.
Jeff Teague didn't stay on the bench long
After sitting the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's win, Jeff Teague came out firing and the played the role of closer for the Hawks in the win over the Heat. Teague scored 12 of his 27 in the fourth quarter and finished the game 8-11 from the field to go along with six assists and just two turnovers.
"We're just playing hard," Teague said, "and playing as a team."
One of the biggest criticisms of this Hawks team coming into the season was the apparent lack of a go to scorer. Teague is starting to ascend into that role and teams are going to be forced to game plan for it.
Dennis Schröder sets another career-high
Enough can't be said for the progress Dennis Schröder has made in his sophomore season in the NBA. Over the last two weeks, he has been a vital cog of Atlanta's attack at both ends of the floor. Mike Budenholzer gave him the reigns on Tuesday night and left Jeff Teague on the bench. Teague had a big fourth quarter on Wednesday but it didn't come at the expense of Schröder who shared the backcourt with him down the stretch.
Schröder finished with a career-high in points for the second straight game finishing with 16 points and three assists on 6-9 shooting. He knocked down a pair of three pointers and is just playing with a high level of confidence. As a rookie, he struggled to finish and questions have always been there in regards to his jump shot. His shot chart from his rookie season illustrates those concerns.
So far this season he has been a much better finisher at the rim and is getting to the free throw line at a higher rate. Perhaps most surprising however, is that he has made great strides as a shooter and has refined the somewhat deliberate mechanics he displayed as a rookie. More importantly, he looks confident taking those shots now and that is important given that opposing defenses are going to focus on keeping him out of the paint.
Can't talk shooting without mentioning Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver finished with 18 points on 6-12 shooting including 3-7 from three-point range. That type of night can be described as an "off night" for Korver this season who is setting the bar pretty high with his play. Korver is shooting a sizzling 53 percent from the field and 57 percent from three-point range which is even more ridiculous. He has made 51 of his 90 three-point attempts this season. There are many players in the league who would love to be that good at the free throw line much less from three-point range. He has a true shooting percentage of 76 percent and an effective field goal percentage of 71.9 percent. Its to the point where you are surprised when he misses an attempt because he rarely does.