Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cavaliers 102 Hawks 96



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 92.1 1.04
48.7 27.3
27.1 16.3
CLE 92.1
1.11 52.6

A burst of garbage time scoring from Flip Murray shouldn't hide the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks handily on an afternoon when LeBron James was, by his standards, a relative non-factor. For the fourth time this season, Mo Williams* found no resistance from Atlanta's perimeter defenders (primarily Mike Bibby) and looked every bit the sidekick necessary to make Cleveland more likely NBA Champions.

*Williams on the season against the Hawks: 23 PPG in 36.5 MPG on 61.9 eFG% and 10-10 from the free throw line. Plus 15 assists against 5 turnovers.

Williams scored 24 points on 14 shots, was credited with seven assists and just one turnover. His impact goes beyond his own numbers as the machinations through which the Hawks went in an attempt to quarantine Mike Bibby from Williams created a brief Daniel Gibson scoring flurry in the second quarter; a quarter in which Cleveland consolidated their 14-point first quarter lead because, unlike during the recent homestand, the Hawks' reserves failed to out play their counterparts.

The third quarter though, wherein the Hawks starters played the first 11:33 as a unit, clinched the game for Cleveland. Just as in the March 1st game in Atlanta, Cleveland began the second half seemingly content to shoot jump shots, only occasionally beating the Hawks off the dribble, and just generally displaying a perhaps not quite conscious lack of respect for Atlanta's ability to trouble them. So the Hawks had a chance to get back in the game. Did they take this chance? Did they work hard to get back in the game? They* did not. They spent their energy accomplishing the (not-so-difficult) task of drawing multiple technical fouls from Joey Crawford's crew.

*Maybe Al Horford and Maurice Evans did.

Mike Bibby started things off two minutes and four seconds into the third quarter, earning his T by arguing an innocuous loose ball foul for which he was called. Bibby's technical gave the Cavaliers a free point when Atlanta had shaved three points of the 18-point halftime deficit. Josh Smith got in the act with 7:33 left in the quarter, arguing rather comically that he must have been fouled and never could have turned the ball over while dribbling on his own accord. Again a 15-point lead became a 16-point lead. Leader of men Mike Woodson* capped the effort, drawing his second technical of the game with 6:30 left in the third. Mo Williams converted that free throw, the Cleveland lead was 20, and I watched the rest of the game out of obligation. Woodson, on the other hand, skipped out on the post-game interview.

*The Woodson/Smith article gets its own post early this week.

Maurice Evans:
"The first thing we have to do is learn how to stop complaining about the officiating and understand that when you’re on the road, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. If we can ever conquer that mentality I think that’s when we’ll become one of the truly elite teams in the league."
Al Horford:
"We shouldn't even be talking to the refs. We have to go out there and play. The Cavs are the best team in the league, so we need to go out and play. Until guys understand that, we're going to be going through this."
While the head coach pouted and hid, the two Hawks players who acquitted themselves with the possessions left over from others' turnovers and missed shots spoke of personal responsibility.

It took the Hawks over a quarter before they ran their first play into the post to start the offense, and even though going there was successful, they minimized it's use.


giggins said...

When's the last time they beat a good team on the road?*

*one of the traits of a quality team

atlstew said...

at this point it would be nice to be competitve on the road