Thursday, April 24, 2008

Celtics 96 Hawks 77



Live Blog of Game 2

Things have gone according to (low) expectations through two games of this series and the degree to which Boston has dominated leaves one looking for ways the Hawks can make a game competitive rather than for ways the Hawks can win a game.

Last night, the Hawks played a decent-to-good defensive game. Sure, the Celtics missed a lot of open shots but the Hawks didn't allow Boston to attempt too many free throws and, in the second half at least, Atlanta did a good job of rebounding Boston's misses. The Celtics scored just a fraction over 1 point per possession, about 11% below their season average.

The Hawks defensive performance only impacted the margin of their defeat because Boston made Atlanta completely ineffective in almost every area of offensive performance. Had Atlanta not gotten to the free throw line 40 times, the TNT researchers would have kept us well-informed of playoff scoring futility records throughout the fourth quarter.

To wit:
  • Atlanta turned the ball over on 23% of their offensive possessions.
  • Atlanta made just 41.8% (23-55) of the their two-point field goal attempts.
  • Atlanta made 0% (0-5) of their three-point attempts.
  • Atlanta grabbed 13.5% (5 of 37) of potential offensive rebounds.
I wish I could say that Atlanta got to the foul line so often through positive, aggressive play but, for the most part, I felt the Hawks understood they couldn't get a good look by running their offense (such as it is) and decided their best/only chance of scoring was to drive into traffic, draw/create contact, and hope to get a call.

The Hawks could take a big step toward giving themselves a chance to be competitive in either Game 3 or Game 4 were they to take care of the ball, but no matter what Joe Johnson thinks:
"But we're not valuing our possessions right now. We're so careless with the basketball, we're not helping ourselves at all."
the majority of the turnovers committed by the Hawks are caused by Boston's defensive pressure.

Even envisioning a scenario where the Hawks don't turn the ball over as much, one would still want to add the caveats that Boston shoot as poorly as they did in Game 2 and the Hawks rebound as well as they did in Game 1 before predicting even a single-digit Hawks defeat. Which leaves Hawks fans wondering whether a reminder of Acie Law IV's promise will overshadow the misguided attempts at leadership exemplified so far in this series by Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson:
"We're not even giving ourselves a chance. We're not playing team basketball and we're not playing hard on both ends of the court. We're showing a lot of immaturity right now. Mike and I are the oldest guys on this team right now at 29 and 26, so we've got to try and find a way to help these guys out on the court."
Making shots and not turning the ball over would be a good start toward helping the guys who, despite their supposed immaturity, are outplaying you "out on the court." Their comments as much as their poor play have me leaning toward advocating the Hawks trade Bibby and Johnson within the next nine months and committing the future of the franchise to Smith and Horford.

Joe Johnson could help a good team on which he didn't have to (or wasn't allowed to) punch above his weight. As for Bibby, well, his $15.2M contract expires after next season and that might be worth something to someone.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Nah, it's too early to blow this team up. I'd rather have Bibby and Law than just Law next year. If Law shows a lot of progress the first half of next year, then maybe trade Bibby at the deadline.

Without Joe this team flatout won't score. They don't have anybody to take over that void if they trade him. They do need to trade Marvin, get a true starting center so Horford can move back to 4, upgrade the bench, and replace the GM and coaching staff.

This team has been epicly bad on the road all season, so these 2 games aren't a surprise at all. They'll probably play a little better the next 2 although they'll still lose.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being the ass who points this out, but you put the wrong score in the title of this thread. Losing by single digits is actually respectable, with how things have gone.

Bret LaGree said...

Better than being the ass who doesn't proof-read the title. Thanks, Bronn.