Dennis Schroder

To get to 15, C's need to keep up the D

To get to 15, C's need to keep up the D

BOSTON – If you were to deconstruct the building blocks of the Celtics' 14-game winning streak, you would find the foundation lies in what they’re able to accomplish defensively.
 
And to the Celtics’ credit, their defense has been challenged in a multitude of ways already.

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They have managed to beat teams with great one-on-one talent (Golden State), those that rely heavily on athleticism and length (Milwaukee) as well as those that put a premium on sharing the ball (Philadelphia), which will be among the ways Atlanta could potentially challenge the Celtics tonight.
 
While the Hawks (3-12) have had their struggles this season, it hasn’t necessarily been because of selfish play offensively.
 
Atlanta averages 327.9 passes per game, which ranks third in the NBA.
 
The problem hasn’t been getting players the ball; it’s what happens – or doesn’t happen – when they get it.
 
Despite being a top three passing team, the Hawks average 22.9 assists, 10th in the NBA. And they're connecting on 45.5 percent of their shots from the field, 14th in the league.
 
For Boston to continue its winning ways, it’ll again be because their defense will have taken away things the Hawks love to do.
 
When it comes to scoring, Atlanta has been one of the NBA’s best at generating offense off screens.
 
Despite having an offense that ranks 19th in scoring (104.2) this season, Atlanta has been among the league leaders when it comes to scoring off screens.
 
In fact, only two NBA teams (Golden State and Cleveland) have generated more points off screens this season than Atlanta (141).
 
That still shouldn’t be a major issue for the Celtics defense, which allows a league-low 94.1 points per game and has shown the ability to find success against any and every kind of offense.
 
Here are five below-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between two teams at opposite ends of the success spectrum this season.
 

KYRIE IN THE CLUTCH
It’s one thing to score a bunch of points, but it takes a special player to do it in the latter stages of play, especially against an elite team that knows you’re looking to get points any way possible. We saw Kyrie Irving shrug off a horrible shooting night (4-for-16) in the 92-88 win over Golden State that included him draining all seven of his fourth-quarter free throws. But Irving coming through when the game counts shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. According to NBA.com/stats, Irving is averaging a league-best 5.8 points in “clutch” situations (last five minutes of a game with the margin being five points or less), ahead of notable standouts Damian Lillard (5.0) of Portland who is second and ex-teammate LeBron James (4.6) who ranks behind Irving, Lillard and Miami’s Dion Waiters (4.9).
 

HIGHS, LOWS FOR HORFORD
Although he spent nine seasons in Atlanta, it has been anything but a sweet homecoming for Al Horford statistically speaking. In the four games he has played against his former team, Horford has averaged 8.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, which are his lowest career scoring and rebounding averages against any team. However, the 5.8 assists he averages against the Hawks represents his highest career average in that category against any team.
 

JAYLEN BROWN
His athleticism has always made Jaylen Brown a standout and the way he has shot the ball this season in clutch situations has stood out as well. But what hasn’t been talked much about is his defense against 3-point shooters. NBA.com/stats lists Brown with 67 contested 3’s this season. That's tops in the NBA. And his 4.2 contested 3’s per game rank sixth in the league.
 

DENNIS SCHRODER
When you see the numbers, it’s clear that much of what the Atlanta Hawks do these days is centered around Dennis Schroder. But upon deeper inspection, it’s apparent that Atlanta is literally driven by the play of the 6-foot-1 point guard. Known for his attacking style of basketball, it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s one of the league’s best at getting to the rim. According to NBA.com/stats, Schroder leads the NBA with 19.1 drives per game. The closest Celtic in that category is Irving who averages 9.7 drives per game which ranks 38th in the league.
 

TAUREAN PRINCE
With Schroder looking to run out in transition as much as possible, Taurean Prince has been more than willing to help fill lanes and provide an option for Schroder to pass to on the break. That has led to lots of spot-up shot opportunities for Prince this season. He comes into tonight’s game averaging 5.4 spot-up possessions per game, which ranks third in the NBA behind Detroit’s Tobias Harris (6.3) and New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins (6.2).
 
 
 

Celtics' Theis looking forward to reunion with countryman Dennis Schroder

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Celtics' Theis looking forward to reunion with countryman Dennis Schroder

When the Celtics tip off tonight against the Hawks, Daniel Theis will see a rare familiar face. 
 
The Celts' German forward will have a chance to reunite with one of his fellow countryman, Dennis Schroder. 
 
Theis has nothing but love for his Schroder, a player he has played with for years on various German national teams.
 
“He just wants to win on the court,” Theis told NBC Sports Boston. “He hates to lose. He gives everything on the court.”
 
That may be the case, but it certainly hasn’t done much for the Hawks (2-8), who come into tonight’s game with one of the worst records in the NBA. 
 
Despite their struggles, Schroder has distinguished himself as arguably their best player by leading the team in scoring (22.5) and assists (6.6) per game this season.
 
Schroder has been a player that has managed to get under the skin of players. 
 
The fifth-year guard irked former Celtic Isaiah Thomas and Celtics fans last season when he alleged that Thomas was trash-talking about his parents following a 103-101 Boston win at Atlanta in which Thomas drained the game-winning shot. 
 
“I’m playing basketball,” Schroder told reporters after the game. “If he thinks that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”

Shortly after learning of Schroder’s comments, Thomas strongly denied any such exchange took place.
 
“I’m going to do whatever I can to make my team win a game,” Thomas, now with the Cleveland, said at the time. “But I don’t bring parents in it, I don’t bring family. I don’t even know his mom to curse at her like he said I did, or whatever he’s lying about.”
 
Theis knows Schroder can rub some folks the wrong way, but it should never be taken personal. 
 
“He’s just a competitor,” Theis said. “After games, he wouldn’t go for an argument after the game. Everybody on the court wants to win. Same with Dennis; he wants to win and plays hard, plays to win.”

30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

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30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

When Al Horford decided in the summer of 2016 to leave Atlanta after nine seasons to play for the Celtics, his departure was the first significant sign that changes were on the horizon.
 
Unfortunately for the Hawks, those changes have not been for the better.
 
Not even close.
 
It’s hard to imagine that it was just three years ago that Atlanta had the best record in the East (61-21). Now, the Hawks will be among the NBA's worst.
 
That team produced four All-Stars that season, all of whom are now playing elsewhere.
 
It has been the kind of upheaval that speaks to how this franchise has fallen quickly upon hard times that, by all accounts, won’t get better anytime soon.
 
Paul Millsap’s departure to Denver was the final core piece to leave, with the Hawks now fielding a roster that’s centered around Dennis Schroder. The 6-foot-2 guard is coming off his best season, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last season.
 
Still, as much promise as the fifth-year guard has shown, the Hawks are painfully weak across the board.
 
In addition to Milsap, the Hawks also saw hometown favorite Dwight Howard traded to Charlotte. And then there was Tim Hardaway Jr., who averaged a career-best 14.5 points per game last season and showed legitimate signs of being a breakout scorer in this league.
 
He opted to sign with the team that drafted him in 2013, the New York Knicks, who lured him back to the Big Apple with a four-year, $70.95 million contract.
 
Atlanta returns Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, who have each shown themselves to be solid pros with promising futures, but neither would be considered on the star-on-the-rise trajectory the Hawks desperately need.
 
The Hawks will also look to rookie John Collins to contribute as well. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Wake Forest had a strong summer league showing. It earned him a spot on the Las Vegas summer league first team. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games.
 
Lots of role players, for sure. But the franchise’s string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances will likely end this year.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions:  Dewayne Dedmon (San Antonio); Luke Babbitt (Miami); Miles Plumlee (Charlotte); Marco Belinelli (Charlotte); Nicolas Brussino (Dallas).
 
Key losses: Paul Millsap (Denver); Dwight Howard (Charlotte). 
 
Rookies of note: John Collins. 
 
Expectations: 26-56 (Fifth in the Southeast Division, 14th in the East)