The Hawks want to play at a faster pace. That means pushing the ball in transition, moving the ball quickly in the half court and playing a spirited defensive style. The Hawks are an athletic team with no fewer than four first- or second-year players expected to be part of the regular rotation, and running more often takes advantage of those assets (and hides some weaknesses).
It all sounds good in theory but . . .
“It’s not easy to do,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You talk about running and everyone says they want to do it but it takes a real commitment from the players and the conditioning and effort. And I think you’ve got to play a lot of guys to do that.”
The Hawks ranked 10th in pace last season, which is the second-highest finish among Budehnolzer’s four seasons. But according to NBA tracking stats their percentage of offensive touches less than two seconds declined from 62.3 in 2014-15 to 61.5 in 2015-16 to 57.8 last season. And the Hawks last season had a dramatic decline in the number of transition possessions they used.
Hawks on the run
What’s it going to take for the Hawks to play faster?
“A lot of determination, being smart,” Kent Bazemore said at shootaround today. “One of my new messages to the team is, ‘Take care of your body.’ Back-to-backs, travel, things of that sort really could play into your style of play. It’s much bigger than basketball if we want to play like that for an entire season and into the playoffs.
“But we’ve got a lot of young guys and we’ve got a lot of guys that are going to push. Yesterday we came in and everybody was a tad bit sluggish — it’s been a long preseason — but we pushed through it and we still made a lot out of nothing. That’s what we are going to have to do throughout the season. Nights we may roll in and not have it or on the back end of a road trip or a little funky spot we’ve just got to continue to push.”
The new NBA schedule, with fewer back-to-back games and no four-in-fives, should help. The Hawks are scheduled to play 15 sets of back-to-backs. More time between games means more opportunities for rest and, theoretically, more energy for the Hawks.
“For sure, but 82 games is 82 games regardless of how you chop it up,” Bazemore said. “Nine-month season, 10-month season — it’s long regardless. The body is a great specimen but it needs its rest. That’s’ going to be important more than anything I take care of our body, get proper rest, proper nutrition.
“Our (athletic performance) staff has done a great job helping us. We’ve got a nutritionist on the team now. Very good chefs. They do all they can to make sure we stay in tip-top shape.”
The Hawks announced that Miles Plumlee will miss another two to three weeks because of a quardiceps strain. He hasn’t played since leaving the exhibition opener at Miami with the injury, which Plulmee said was a “warning sign” that the leg wasn’t ready.
“I was a little frustrated with myself that I’m not quite ready at the very beginning of the season,” he said. “But the staff here is unbelievable. It’s getting better every day. We are taking the right steps to come back close to 100 percent instead of coming out and playing less than that and just not being your best and running the risk of re-injuring yourself.” . . .
Hawks guard Marco Belinelli is probable to play in the exhibition game against the Mavericks tonight. He’s missed the past three games because of a sore Achilles.
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