Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spurs 89 Hawks 74



I don't know that anyone can have anything other than mixed feelings about last night's game or the road trip in general. Or maybe it's just that I'm so self-involved I can't imagine feeling differently than I feel.

GOOD FEELING: Holding the Spurs to 5 points in the first quarter.

BAD FEELING: Allowing 84 points to the Spurs over the next three quarters.

MIXED FEELING: Overall it was a good defensive performance (San Antonio scored 89 points on an estimated 88.9 possessions (and 9 of those points were scored in the last 1:49)) but Tony Parker dominated the third quarter and Tim Duncan the fourth. If you can't consider your defensive strength to be either perimeter or interior defense it's going to be difficult to be consistently effective. Length and energy will have its moments against skill and execution but the opposite holds just as true.

GOOD FEELING: Despite immediately getting hurt and having had limited practice time with his new teammates, Mike Bibby looks like he'll improve the offense if for no other reason than Joe Johnson appears comfortable deferring some ball-handling and decision-making to Bibby.

BAD FEELING: Mike Bibby increases the number of Hawks who you feel comfortable taking a jump shot from 1 to 2.

MIXED FEELING: Will more practice time mean Bibby's point guard skills function as an addition to the status quo or will more practice time suffocate Bibby's point guard skills within Mike Woodson's "offensive system?"

Speaking of which...

BAD FEELING: In the last three days I've seen the Hawks run plays for Marvin Williams to post up Andrei Kirilenko and Bruce Bowen. Last night, the Hawks, down 10 and having scored 4 points a little more than eight minutes into the third quarter ran a play out of a timeout for Marvin in the post while being guarded by Bruce Bowen.

WORSE FEELING: When was the last time Marvin did something useful? I can clearly remember him dropping passes against Utah and San Antonio, running into Salim and knocking him over while trying to run the pick-and-roll in Utah, and letting Ime Udoka get a weak-side offensive rebound and put back last night despite Marvin having position. Marvin played 3:39 non-garbage time minutes in the fourth quarter last night. The Hawks were -11 while he was on the floor. That is entirely consistent with my subjective experience of the fourth quarter. Earlier this year, Marvin was arguably as important to the offense as Joe Johnson. Now I'm curious what Jeremy Richardson could do with the playing time.

GOOD FEELING: Zaza Pachulia had a nice game off the bench.

BAD FEELING: Apparently, if Zaza'a playing well off the bench, then Al Horford doesn't get to play at all. Horford sat on the bench for over ten straight minutes in the second half.

MIXED FEELING: I've been agitating for Horford to get more touches in the post all season. I didn't necessarily mean for him to get all those touches in a single game when he was guarded by Tim Duncan.

GOOD FEELING: Assuming I'm not projecting, Josh Smith is slowly taking control of the team.

BAD FEELING: Smith's thumb is injured to the degree that he was unwilling or unable to try and dunk the ball last night (costing the Hawks up to four points). Smith's thumb injury did not render him unwilling or unable to shoot jump shots.

MIXED FEELING: He's not used to being double-teamed quickly in the post and the adjustment period will include turnovers but few teams will double-team him as quickly and thoroughly as San Antonio did last night.

One win was the most anyone (there I go again) could have realistically expected from the road trip. Atlanta has 15 (well, 14 and 1/53rd) home games and 13 road games remaining. 11 of those 13 road games are against Eastern Conference teams. A 12th is at Memphis. Hollinger's playoff odds have the Hawks as the 8th most likely playoff team in the East, with a little better than a 40% probability of making the playoffs.

And, for one morning at least, I haven't written the most pessimistic thing I've read about the Hawks.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I'd go with 3.5 shooters (Joe, Bibby, Salim, and Marvin), although Marvin is rapidly calling his .5 into doubt.

If they aren't going to fire Woodson until season's end, could they at least hire an assistant coach that can implement a bare bones textbook half court offense now? Woody has made it abundantly clear that he has no idea what he's doing when it comes to scoring.

For sure it's time to bench Marvin and give Chil or Zaza some starts. Can we somehow trick the league and New Orleans into trading us Paul for Williams? Ugh.

Definitely I want to see more Horford post play. That is a lot more effective than the usual Joe isolations.

Did the Hawks play an unusually high percentage of home games the first 2 months of the season? I'm starting to get the feeling that those heady times were an illusion and we all should have seen the subsequent collapse coming. And yet they're only a win or two from the 8th spot in the playoffs at 10 games under .500. God the East sucks.

Bret LaGree said...

I didn't count Salim not because I don't think he's a good shooter and not because I desperately wish he'd be useful for the Hawks, but rather because the (designed, I presume) spacing in the half-court is so horrible that I can't recall five times he's received the ball in position to take an open jump shot.

The vast majority of Salim's shot attempts have come as a result of him dribbling until he gets the chance to shot a contested rather than heavily contested jumper. There's no way I'm confident when he takes that shot on the rare occasions he gets to play.

How hard is it to put Josh Smith on one block, have Bibby or Joe Johnson feed the post, have the other on the weak-side wing, and, either makes a move toward the basket or he gets double-teamed at what point Horford or Childress cuts into the space created in the lane, giving Smith two to three good options?

Mix-and-match roles as appropriate. Add some post ups for Joe Johnson and Horford when advantageous (even Zaza occasionally with the second unit), run some pick-and-roll with Bibby or Acie Law IV (when healthy), and push the ball up the court at every opportunity. I believe that even with the limitations of the roster, this could be an average offensive team.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree, but it would require a coach who knows how to run an average offense which the Hawks don't have.