Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bobcats 100 Hawks 98 (OT)



I'll introduce two more pieces of evidence and then rest my case that Mike Woodson shouldn't, nay, can't be coaching this team on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

1) He just got out-coached by Sam Vincent.
2) He threw his team under the bus following the game.

"Our guys are somewhat clock-watching right now. They get leads, and the teams start to make runs. They start to look at the clock and hope the clock runs out. That's not good."
That couldn't have anything to do with the plays you're calling, could it? Or playing Tyronn Lue for the final 24 minutes of the game despite Charlotte running every single play (warning: slight, very slight, exaggeration) at him and his inability to dribble-penetrate (like Acie Law IV) or push the ball up the court (like Anthony Johnson) to create shots for someone other than his own, miniature self?

If I never see again the isolation for Joe Johnson on the left side, with a guard standing on that side of the floor 25 feet from the basket and the other three guys standing in a clump below the free throw line on the opposite side, I'll be happy. It's amazing that such a well thought out and designed set is so easy for opposing teams to guard.

When you sit in front of the television and think, "I wish the Hawks could space the floor like Charlotte," a serious change must me be made.

The players aren't dumb. After every horrible loss they get quoted speaking directly to the problems that so obviously plague this team. Last night, it was Joe Johnson:
"We can't spread the floor, and we can't run high pick-and-rolls against a zone. We can't try and attack because they are sitting in the middle. They want us to shoot those shots. And it kills us every time."
I'm convinced that this team plays so much better in transition not only because their talent is better suited to that but also because they're freed from Mike Woodson's stagnant, unimaginative sets. The players can play hard but they can't be expected to design their own half-court offense. Hence their frustration with losing game after game because of the same flaw.

Case in point: the final possession of regulation. Atlanta tried to get the ball to Joe Johnson. Charlotte knew Atlanta would try to get the ball to Joe Johnson. Charlotte kept Atlanta from getting the ball to Joe Johnson and there was no second option available to Al Horford. Horford and Anthony Johnson made chicken salad (thanks to some inattentive weak-side defending by the Bobcats) out of that situation, but their dilemma was created by a poorly designed play.

The next coach also has to make the team understand that defensive rebounding isn't just something Al Horford is supposed to do. (Woodson's unseemly fascination with Lue and Lorenzen Wright kept the potentially useful defensive rebounder Zaza Pachulia on the bench. It might not have worked, but I think when you're watching something clearly not work, it would be worthwhile to try something sensible and different.) Charlotte got 10 offensive rebounds in the third and fourth quarters. Atlanta got 10 defensive rebounds in the third and fourth quarters. Al Horford had five of those defensive rebounds in 19:10. The rest of the roster had five defensive rebounds in a combined 100:50. Horford was matched up against Emeka Okafor the entire time. The rest of the roster had only to deal with Raymond Felton, Jared Dudley, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll, Jeff McInnis, Nazr Mohammed, and Jermareo Davidson.

Marvin Williams played 22:49 of the second half, most of it at power forward (Josh Smith's horrible, foul-plagued night should not go unmentioned) and collected a grand total of 2 defensive rebounds. While on the subject of Williams, I must respectfully disagree with Steve Smith and cast my vote for Marvin "settling" for jump shots. If he re-focused on getting his feet set and simply catching-and-shooting, we'd see fewer missed shots and be spared his aesthetically unpleasant and practically ineffective attempts to create offense off the dribble. The man cannot yet dribble in traffic or finish at the rim. Of course, this team's overriding philosophy appears to be: Make time in every game to try and do what you're least good at as a basketball player. Then watch the coach make Joe Johnson try and score against at least four defenders.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

re: Woodson. All there is to say is, "Amen." Time for management to stop putting off the inevitable and get rid of Woody.

What do you think of a starting line up like

Law - pg
Joe - sg
Smith - sf
Horford - pf
Pachulia - c

This team isn't going to make the playoffs so they might as well give Law minutes so he can develop. If you still want to cling to the chances of making the 8th seed and getting shut out by Boston, then maybe go

Joe - pg
Smith - sg
Childress - sf
Horford - pf
Pachulia - c

Bret LaGree said...

I think it would aid in Law's development to play consistent minutes with the second unit, both to protect him from getting destroyed by the league's best point guards and to keep him from getting in the perception of foul trouble and sitting for the better part of the first half. Let's take advantage of Anthony Johnson's decent season and use him to start both halves and the finish the game when Law has a bad night or the other team presents a good argument against the Hawks going big.

I'm also a big fan of the matchup advantages Smith gets when he plays the four. So I'd pick and choose the spots to go with the Horford/Pachulia tandem but that should definitely be part of the rotation.

The offensive hierarchy needs to be Smith, Johnson, Horford. If they commit to that and don't waste possessions on Marvin Williams posting up or Tyronn Lue dribbling for 19 seconds I think they'd be a .500 team.

CoCo said...

I'm convinced that there is absolutely nothing Mike Woodson can do to get fired. The team played so much better when everyone was injured and Mike didn't have the man power to make erroneous substitutions.