Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Live Blog--Game 2: Hawks @ Celtics

I'm going to do this MBM-style so hit refresh early and often and use the comments as necessary.

Mercifully it ends. Boston wins 96-77. It could have been much worse (cosmetically at least) for the Hawks. There really was nothing to say about the last several minutes of this game. Good night, everybody.

I'm going to Game 4 on Monday night. I doubt I'll see what David Stern envisioned when expanded the first round to best-of-7 series.

4Q, 5:40: Should any of the Hawks actually succeed in kicking things off tonight, I've the suspicion that Garnett could whip all of them by himself. I don't want to see any more half-assed cheap shots because Josh Smith is still a confused young man.

4Q, 8:17: Mike Bibby attempted to get a piggy back ride from Glen Davis without asking permission first. Not cool. It would be a shame if this game got chippy down the stretch. The Hawks need to focus on being competitive as a basketball team rather than proving themselves "physical" or "tough."

4Q, 8:39: I think James Posey just got called for a flagrant foul because Josh Smith chose not to land after he was fouled. Granted, James Posey might have been called for a flagrant foul in part because he's James Posey.

4Q, 9:02: Three-point shots add up faster than two-point baskets and free throws. Atlanta hasn't made a three tonight. The analysis presented herein is matching the excitement of the game.

4Q, 10:54: If nothing else (Probably nothing else between you me and the lamppost), Acie Law should have secured significant minutes for himself in each of the next two games on the basis of his offensive performance tonight.

end of 3Q: Rajon Rondo misses a six-footer over West. Celtics 76-58. Boston has nearly doubled their lead over the course of a quarter wherein they missed many, many makeable shots.

3Q, :09.2: Mario West, Defensive Stopper makes an appearance.

3Q, 1:15: Ray Allen's three makes it 76-56 and I'm allowing myself my first drink of the night.

3Q, 2:05: It's not a good sign when the broadcaster is willing to cut away from live action of your game to show the final seconds of an 18-point game.

3Q, 3:07: Dick Stockton just called Al Horford "Tito Horford" and that doesn't infuriate me. I've been up for over 20 hours straight, Dick Stockton's calling a Celtics playoff's like I've discovered some sort of basketball nerd fountain of youth.

3Q, 3:19: Josh Smith is visibly frustrated in a way that suggests he has no idea how to channel his frustration effectively. He's being petulant toward referees, teammates, and now that Rajon Rondo lays the ball in to put Boston up 19 leading to an Atlanta timeout, I expect he's about to be petulant toward his head coach.

Josh, if you want to shoot more free throws, try dunking on people in the paint rather than attempting one-handed and/or double-clutch, submarine, fall-away layups.

3Q, 5:53: Joe Johnson throws the ball over Josh Smith's head in an attempt to give Smith a 1-on-2 fast break opportunity. Atlanta has scored 8 points this half.

3Q, 7:35: JoJo White is talking about Mario Chalmers, getting jobbed in the 1966 NCAA Tournament, and all is briefly right in the world.

3Q, 8:25: While the officials debate whether or not to call an obvious goaltend on Josh Smith, I'll tackle the other side of Smith's jump shooting: 3-6 from the floor, 6-8 from the line when not shooting jumpers.

3Q, 9:12: Joe Johnson flattens Rondo before making a mid-range jumper. It looks like two Hawks are already tired of being guarded by him.

3Q, 10:18: Josh Smith is 0-4 on jump shots, 0-1 on three-point attempts.

3Q, 10:40: Three Boston possessions, three layup opportunities. Luckily for the Hawks, Paul Pierce passed up the first to throw a pass off of Josh Smith's shoulder, Smith blocked a Kendrick Perkins dunk attempt, and Kevin Garnett misses a layup.

Half-time: 52-42 Celtics. I'll have my first drink when the Hawks fall behind by 20 or Josh Smith makes a jump shot, whichever occurs first.

It's all well and good for Charles Barkley to insist the Hawks should play faster but when you can't guard Sam Cassell or a gimpy Paul Pierce, it's unlikely you'll get enough stops to run with any consistency. Allowing the other team to get 40% of possible offensive rebounds (as Boston did in the first half) doesn't help either.

To respond to Edwin's comment at 9:05pm, it's not just bad passing, it's horrible spacing that makes double-teaming Joe Johnson so effective.

2Q, 2:28: Marvin Williams attacking James Posey off the dribble: bad. Marvin Williams hustling after his own awful missed shot: commendable. Marvin Williams failing to convert the ensuing layup or draw a foul: all too predictable.

2Q, 2:52: I hope Scoop Jackson is watching at least the possessions when Josh Smith and Kevin Garnett are guarding each other. Attempting to guard in Josh's case.

2Q, 3:50: On a single defensive possession, Al Horford traps Rondo in the backcourt, keeps Rondo in front of him while Mike Bibby jogs back on defense, switches onto his man (Kendrick Perkins) and runs out to challenge an 18-foot Kevin Garnett jumper (missed) on the low wing. I thank you, Al Horford. Atlanta thanks you. Your next head coach salivates at the thought of you.

2Q, 5:33: Boston leads 43-31 at the timeout with Kendrick Perkins headed to the line. It's been an unsurprising two minutes of game time. Boston's just a lot better. Oh, Marvin Williams has been back on the floor.

2Q, 7:37: Mike Fratello thinks Josh Smith needs to learn to be a smarter player around the rim. (True enough, and though he should start there, he could do with learning to be a smart player all over the court.) Fratello uses Leon Powe as a positive role model for Smith. I nominate the better 5:coaching Powe's received as a primary difference. And still Ben Braun got fired.

2Q, 8:23: Acie Law might actually be more effective when playing more than 4 minutes at a time. It's not flawless basketball but it's marginally encouraging for the future.

2Q, 9:03, coming out of the timeout: Al Horford's in the game. The second quarter of a game in which he's already picked up two fouls. I think this marks tonight's game as an important game on the Hawks' calendar. I'm a bit nervous.

2Q, 9:03: Sam Cassell makes a pull-up jumper on the resultant fast break to put the Celtics up 34-24. Atlanta timeout.

2Q, 9:15: Marvin Williams gets a layup blocked by Paul Pierce and I, for the first time, see Marvin and think Charles Smith. Also, Joe Johnson is back in the game. Should have mentioned that sooner.

2Q, 10:34: Marvin Williams getting a call while trying one of his "off-the-dribble moves" does more harm than good if it encourages him to try another off-the-dribble move prior to the start of the 2008-09 NBA season.

2Q, 10:47: Acie Law has serious room for improvement as a defensive player. Sam Cassell shouldn't get loose that easily. Not when you're 20+ years younger than him.

2Q, 11:25: Josh Smith is 0-3 on jump shots.

Mike Woodson alternates saying things that don't make sense with saying things that aren't true. I could have done an entire post live blogging his between quarters interview with Cheryl Miller but I choose only to watch it twice and march forward.

1Q, 1.1: Brilliant pass from Josh Smith ahead to Zaza Pachulia for the and-one. Boston 24-20 at the end of the first quarter.

1Q, 1:02: Acie Law gets a layup off of a screen-and-roll with Zaza Pachulia. That's a sentence I assumed I'd type a lot more often than I did this season.

Rajon Rondo was drafted with a pick that once belonged to the Hawks. Rajon Rondo was also selected 16 spots behind Shelden Williams.

1Q, 2:50: Josh Smith now 0-2 on jump shots but Marvin Williams provides a rare glimpse of what we once thought he might be with a tomahawk follow dunk.

1Q, 3:52: Acie Law IV didn't exactly make those of us clamoring for more time for him look good. Rajon Rondo takes the ball away from Law off Acie's first touch of the game. Of course, we can always claim Acie doesn't turn the ball over there if he'd gotten more PT.

1Q, 4:03: Hawks call a timeout down 15-9. This is why the Hawks are probably going to get swept: Atlanta can't score enough to keep pace during a Boston cold (injury-influenced, too) stretch. They may not even make it to 80 points tonight.

1Q, 4:20: With a pull-up from 23' 6" with Kevin Garnett's hand in his face, Mike Bibby plumbs new depths of poor shot selection. Josh Smith, the ball is in your court presuming you find yourself somewhere with your feet set.

1Q, 4:41: Horford has two fouls now. Let's tally up how many more minutes he plays before the half versus how many Joe Johnson plays before the half. Both numbers figure to be comically small.

If you're looking for a more experienced hand, Micah Hart is live blogging the game as well.

1Q, 5:20: Forget what I said earlier, Mike Bibby is playing even worse while the crowd boos him. 13-9 Celtics.

1Q, 7:05: Are the Hawks still throwing games in the bag? Marvin Williams just posted up James Posey. He appeared to do so on purpose and with the foreknowledge of both his coaches and teammates. Marvin traveled before he started a post move.

1Q, 8:10: Smith is also 1-1 on dunks. Two fouls on Joe Johnson. No way he gets the Smith/Horford treatment which only underscores how stupid and self-destructive that is.

1Q, 8:22: Marvin Williams has successfully boxed out Kevin Garnett twice. In more expected news, Josh Smith is 0-1 on jump shots.

1Q, 9:45: Celtics up 5-3 at the first timeout and Paul Pierce headed to the end of the bench if not the locker room.

1Q, 10:38: At a certain level, circumstances dictate results. Boston wasn't smart that nine teams passed on drafting Paul Pierce. Atlanta was far from the only team that would have taken Marvin Williams with the second overall pick. Marvin Williams can't guard Paul Pierce, though.

1Q, 11:36: Celtics fans are booing Mike Bibby when he touches the ball. What, is he going to play worse because of this?

Sam Cassell, front-and-center in sharing in Kevin Garnett's Defensive Player of the Year Award after his 17-game, 299-minute contribution to Boston's excellent team defense this year and still he's likable.

Prediction corner: KD says Boston by 112. I'm going to wait before I file that under exaggeration. Should Josh Smith and Al Horford pick up *gasp* two fouls each in the first quarter things could get uglyier.

Pre-game thoughts: It's not up-to-the-minute content but I like to point out the occasional things I'm right about (not that accurately predicting the Hawks would fail to back up their pre-series talk was an especially brilliant insight) so here's what Josh Childress said following Game 1:
"We never played like the aggressor, like the team with nothing to lose, which is what we've been talking about since we knew this matchup was coming."
Joe Johnson sort-of followed up on his:
"These games don’t matter. We accomplished our goal and these last two games, just throw them in the bag and don’t even worry about them. We just have to be ready to get up and go for the playoffs."
line of thinking, by saying after Game 1:
"I didn't expect it to be like this, but I'm glad we got it out of the way."
That makes two games thrown in the bag and one game out of the way. If you're counting.

CelticsBlog has a game preview here. One can envy the preview's author, FLCeltsFan, for his unfamiliarity with the inner-workings of Mike Woodson's mind which this excerpt from the preview reveals:
We can expect the Hawks to make some adjustments to try to beat the Celtics...
I may not have seen Game 1 but I did see a couple of hawks this week.

When in Cambridge, Hoopinion recommends visiting The Fitzwilliam Museum.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Edwin said...

10 minutes! Braves hanging in...GO HAWKS!!

Edwin said...

Will the new comments be at the top or will we have to scroll down?

Bret LaGree said...

They'll be at the top.

Edwin said...

Hope the announcers were wrong...that foul was CLEARLY on JJ. Pierce hurt...I will take ANY advantage, but I am sure James Posey will be the next MJ all of the sudden.

Edwin said...

Wow...Fratello sounds MAD that the Hawks are nervous. Almost mad at Woodson.

Edwin said...

So you sub Chill for JJ and don't sub OUT MW for Acie, Zaza, or Salim? Very poor scoring team on the floor right now.

Micah said...

Experienced hand? You're too kind...

Anonymous said...

Marvin Williams with an offensive rebound and a dunk? About as common as playoff basketball in Atlanta.

Edwin said...

Acie needs to play more. He is all we have to penetrate and create things.

Anonymous said...

If Bibby isn't going to hit jump shots, which is the real advantage to having him on the floor, then we definately need to Acie more. In fact, we should see more of Acie when Bibby actually IS hitting jump shots just to see if he can actually defend someone.

The future is bright for Rajon Rondo, though. He's very tough to guard and really does a good job on defense, no matter who he's guarding.

Edwin said...

They are chasing JJ with two guys...are we that bad of a passing team that we can't find ONE open guy?

Edwin said...

At this point, I am keeping the starters in until they have no fouls to give. Doc will take out the starters and we need to keep ours in.

Edwin said...

They just found a way to make Soulja Boy suck even worse.

Stockton just called Al Horford "Tito Horford"!!

Edwin said...

Man, I really hope we are that much better at home and get a win. ONE win in the series is a victory in my mind.

And by the way, if the Celts run into the Pistons, there will be none of these shenanigans.

Edwin said...

Things we learned:

Acie needs more time.

When Rondo runs under the hoop, DO NOT have everyone chase him.

Smith may as well be Ben Wallace from outside 8 feet.

The only guys we ever get open can't shoot.

Anonymous said...

We're at the point where the Celtics can put in absolutely their worst players, and it wouldn't matter. I'm watching Top Chef. Yes, I'm watching a cooking show during playoff basketball because of the extreme futility.

Anonymous said...

Last thought on this game (nevermind that there's still 2:25 left).

Atlanta's biggest problem right now is that they're playing against a team that can score and play defense.

Edwin said...

I will say this...I am already sick of the Celtics acting like such a bunch of jerks. I will be going against them the rest of the way, regardless. All the chest pounding and cheap shots...just lose.

Drew Ditzel said...

wow, these games are fun bret!

My sister is getting married on Saturday and I am bummed I am missing the game, but my heart is rejoicing.