Atlanta Hawks Blog

A blog about Atlanta’s NBA franchise, from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Game preview: Rockets at Hawks


When/where: 7:30 p.m. today, Philips Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Injuries: Hawks—Ersan Ilyasova (knee), DeAndre' Bembry (wrist) and Miles Plumlee (quad) are out; Malcolm Delaney (ankle) is doubtful; Dennis Schroder (ankle), Marco Belinelli (Achilles) and Mike Muscala (ankle) are probable.

Rockets—Chris Paul (knee) is out.

What to watch for:

In a league where teams are shooting more three-pointers than ever, the Rockets manage to stand out. They’ve attempted threes on 54.1 percent of their total field-goal attempts and 45.6 per 100 possessions, the highest volume by a wide margin. The Mavericks shoot the second-highest volume with 39.8 percent of their FGAs from three and 34.5 threes per 100 possessions.

“It’s an interesting kind of evolution,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s something that they believe strongly in and they take it to that ‘nth’ degree. You have to build a roster that’s’ built do that, and they kind of do.”

Among the top 10 Rockets players in minutes, eight have a three-point attempt rate (percentage of shots from three-point range) of at least .431. Four of those players shoot threes at an incredible rate: Ryan Anderson (.806  three-point attempt percentage), P.J. Tucker (.784), Trevor Ariza (.741) and Eric Gordon (.657).

The Rockets have made just 31.4 percent of their three-point attempts, third-worst in the league. But the heavy volume is one reason why they still rank seventh in effective field-goal percentage (.525) .

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni long has been at the forefront of offensive trends in the NBA but the way the Rockets are playing now is radical even for him.

“It’s kind of how they are built and they are taking that philosophy to an extreme,” Budenholzer said. “It’s intriguing somewhat if I was removing myself from either team or not involved in it. D’Antoni is a great coach I think he’s an innovative guy and takes the game to places it hasn’t been.”

Budenholzer is involved in it, of course. The Hawks have to figure out how to deal with what’s likely to be a huge volume of three-point shots and so far this season they have not been good at defending the three-point line .

But the tricky thing with the Rockets is that they also draw a lot of fouls (11th in free-throw attempts per field goal). The Hawks have fouled less lately but still rank 14th in opponent free-throw attempt rate.  (One area the Hawk can exploit: The Rockets have a high turnover rate.)

Budenholzer said the Hawks are more focused on keeping the Rockets off the free-throw line than off the three-point line. If the Rockets shoot a lot of threes and also draw a lot of fouls the Hawks likely will be in for a long night.

“That’s where it becomes deadly,” Budenholzer said. “They are so committed to shooting threes that it’s sometimes harder to take that away because they’ve got guys who can attack the basket, too. It’s not like they have a bunch of slow-footed, non-athletic guys all they can do is shoot threes. These guys can attack and get to the paint. When they have free throws and threes going, that’s kind of their deadly combo.”

Notes

  • Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney (ankle) didn’t participate in today’s shootaround and is doubtful to play tonight. Delaney left the Sixers game late in the first half and didn’t return. “We’ll see how he responds to treatment but doubtful is doubtful,” Budenholzer said.
  • Dennis Schroder seemed more like himself against the Sixers on Wednesday, his third game back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for two. Schroder drove to the basket more against the Sixers. Schroder: “The first two was kind of tough but I wanted to be there with my teammates. But now it is healing, it’s getting better. Now we’ve got to get a win."

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.