Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heat 95 Hawks 79



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 89.4 0.88 40.4 35.3 28.9 22.4
MIA 89.4 1.06 50.7 23.7 25.6 19

Yes, the Hawks really did go 13:25 without making a field goal and, yes, they did so one day after failing to make a field goal for 5:50 (between 6:06 and 0:16) of the fourth quarter in their loss to Phoenix. In both instances, it took a team effort to manifest such thorough futility but, to my eye, the offensive droughts are primarily down to Mike Bibby playing two bad games in a row.

It may be stating the obvious but the Hawks aren't going to win many games when Bibby is clearly outplayed by a rookie who misses 9 of his 14 shots and turns the ball over five times. In general, I believe it would be an exaggeration to claim that Bibby is as important to the Hawks' offense as is Joe Johnson; Johnson's presence on the floor creates many of the open looks Bibby has converted with such frequency this season. However, Bibby's presence has helped disabuse Johnson of the notion that he must single-handedly* carry the Hawks' offense. When Bibby's not making shots, or, even more disastrously, turning the ball over five times while garnering nary an assist, Johnson becomes as isolated an offensive player as he's been the past three seasons in Atlanta.

*Granted, playing alongside Bibby may have increased Johnson's defensive load every bit as much as it has eased his offensive burden.

I think it's interesting that the Hawks got back in the game (sort of) on the basis of Flip Murray taking control of the team at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter. Murray doesn't blindly defer to Johnson offensively. Granted, this is not always a good thing but I think that down 18 with less than five minutes in the third quarter is a fine time to try something different. It didn't matter much last night as Miami had a massive head start and Dwyane Wade* but could serve as a lifeline for what may be a tiring starting backcourt.

*Though it was Mario Chalmers who took the game over briefly after the Hawks got within 7 with 9:15 left in the game.

Solomon Jones had another productive night, though he may have squandered the best chance for playing prolonged minutes he'll have this season by committing five fouls in just under 11 minutes. Still, if that's the biggest complaint that Solomon Jones' play engenders, I contend he's on the right track. Which is nice, as Al Horford's return is still at least a week away.

The Hawks revisited an old, unpleasant theme in their post-game comments.

Mike Woodson:
"This game is played in four quarters. And we didn't come to play the first two quarters."
Joe Johnson:
"We just weren't playing hard."
Should my opinion serve as any sort of tonic, it didn't occur to me that the Hawks weren't playing hard. They were playing poorly, to be sure, but I didn't notice a lack of effort and Miami's offense, it should be noted, did not set the world ablaze in the game's first fifteen minutes.

I think this Joe Johnson quote is more indicative of the problems witnessed last night:
"We’re not playing together on either end of the court...We’re not making the extra pass on offense and we’re turning the ball over and honestly, it’s very frustrating at this point in the season to see us spinning our wheels like this after all that we’ve done."


Unknown said...

I agree with what you are saying at the end - at no point in the game did I feel like the team wasn't trying. It just didn't feel like they were playing together: too many isolations, players committing stupid offensive fouls because they were unwilling to pass, and opponents driving straight to the basket because of defensive lapses. It also didn't help that the shots just weren't falling.

Hopefully we can get "it" back, whatever "it" is, because we aren't going to win many games playing like we played last night...

Bret LaGree said...

"It" could easily be a healthy Al Horford.

Unknown said...

I sure hope so - hopefully he can make it back before the end of next week as some are predicting. I'm glad that he made the trip with the team though...