Podium Game Playbook: The Atlanta Hawks are playing chess


Yesterday afternoon, the Atlanta Hawks welcomed the Washington Wizards to Phillips Arena for a matchup between two of the top teams in both the Southeast Division, as well as the Eastern Conference. It had all the makings of a great game, but it ended up only being great if you were a Hawks fan.

They jumped out to an early double-digit lead, and though the Wizards were able to fight their way back into the game a few times, the Hawks pushed the lead back out again right away. It was a classic 2015 Hawks performance, as they won 120-89 and had eight players in double-figures.

Two of those players were of course Kyle Korver and Al Horford, and the Hawks used those two to run a beautiful little play that I want to take a closer look at really quick if you don’t mind.

Oh you don’t? Okay, sweet. Let’s get into it then.

So it starts out with Jeff Teague bringing the ball up the court. Kyle Korver is chilling out on the win, and Al Horford comes over like he is about to set a screen for the sharpshooter. This makes sense, because the Hawks run Korver off all sorts of screens.

Korver acts like he is about to cut off the screen, and in doing so draws the attention of both his defender and Horford’s defender. And this makes sense, because Korver is one the most dangerous shooter in the game.

Only, here’s the thing: this isn’t a play for Kyle Korver at all. In fact, it’s for Al Horford. As soon as he begins his cut, Korver stops dead in his tracks, setting a screen for his big man, who pops backwards towards the wing. This flusters the Wizards defenders, who were expecting a Korver cut.

By the time Washington realizes they’ve been duped, it’s too late, as Horford receives the pass from Teague and lets fly a wide open jumper. And you already know what that means: straight cash, homie.