Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hawks 100 Jazz 93



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
UTAH 91.3
47.9 17.4
30.2 17.5
ATL 91.3 1.10 53.3

1) It's imperative the Hawks secure the fourth seed in the East. They're simply a different team at home.

2) It's likely the Hawks secure the fourth seed in the East. They have a game-and-a-half lead over Miami and the Hawks play 11 of their final 17 games at home where (see above) they're a different team.

The Hawks won their third straight at home last night with each successive game against a better team arriving in town with a longer winning streak intact. This team is not yet to the point (though it's close) where beating New Orleans and Utah at home is a ho-hum affair. Part of that has to do with the vast difference in energy the Hawks display at home* compared with their road efforts. There's no explanation for that, or at least there's no explanation free of borderline-insulting suppositions and thus no good explanation. The question of whether the Hawks are more of a good home team or a poor road team won't be resolved today.

*And part of that surely has to do with their opposition being on the road and coming out as flat as Utah did last night.

Outside of the third quarter (Granted, a significant exception.), the Hawks did a good job stifling Utah's halfcourt offense both before and after* a shot went up. None of the Hawks were able to do much to keep Deron Williams (who, in my opinion, played a little too unselfishly last night) out of the lane though Acie Law IV gave a game effort. However they didn't compound Utah's matchup advantage by letting Ronnie Brewer, CJ Miles, or Andrei Kirilenko get many good looks while going to the basket.

*It's my contention that the constant switching on screens contributes to Atlanta's poor defensive rebounding both in terms of positioning at the time an opponent's shot is released and the general passivity it encourages.

It's a smart acknowledgment of the team's defensive liabilities at the point to trade some easy shots Deron Williams created for himself for some jump shots from Brewer, Miles, and Kirilenko. Perhaps the Hawks were let off the hook by Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver making just 7 of 18 FGA but, had, the Hawks taken better advantage of Utah's propensity to send their opponents to the free throw line, the margin of victory would have been more significant.

Free throw shooting (1-4) was the one area where Mario West did not contribute in a positive way during his 14 first half minutes. Though it was good to see the "energy guy" get to use his energy for a longer stretch, it was better to see that Mike Woodson chose to counter Utah's third quarter explosion with basketball players rather than push his luck with West.

I suspect there's no silver lining to Marvin Williams' still-mysterious back injury, but it, in combination with the dying embers of Mike Bibby's contract push, has forced/allowed Mike Woodson to use Acie Law for extended stretches at the point. Keeping in mind we're talking about a guy with less than 1500 minutes played for his career, there are encouraging signs of progress: his assists are up and his turnovers are down compared to last season, and, though he still isn't making a very high percentage of his field goal attempts he's getting to the free throw line more than twice as often as he did last season. I think it would be risky to hand him the starting point job next season but, if he continues to play at his current level through the end of the season I believe he could allow Rick Sund to be both more frugal and more creative with filling the roster spot currently occupied by Mike Bibby.

Josh Smith is obviously drunk on defensive rebounds following his recent binge:
"This shows everybody in the world the Hawks are for real. They have to take the Hawks seriously. Utah is an outstanding team. We played the best in the West and were able to beat them."
Mike Woodson was more measured in expressing his good feelings:
"We’ve had some fourth quarters like that earlier in the year when we started out but this fourth quarter was huge for us from a defensive standpoint."
Utah's final 12 possessions resulted in four points all on Ronnie Brewer free throws. Huge indeed.

Ryan Cameron gets some attention at the top of Ross Siler's game recap in The Salt Lake Tribune:
As the final seconds ticked away Wednesday night, the public address announcer at Philips Arena couldn't help himself, yelling, "We are the streak busters. We end winning streaks. Hawks fans, make some noise!"
John Hollinger presents the evidence that Utah isn't a very good road team, either:
Let's get right to the three key numbers from Wednesday: 1, 9 and 12.

Twelve is the big number you'll hear about, because Utah's 12-game winning streak ended in a 100-93 loss to the Hawks thanks to 31 points from Joe Johnson, Josh Smith's best game in several weeks and a lengthy, productive first-half cameo from Mario West.

But going forward, it's the 1 and the 9 that are of much greater concern.

The number 1, because after Wednesday that's still the number of times the Jazz have beaten a winning team on the road this year. Yes, just once: a 120-114 overtime win at Detroit on Dec. 19. They lost their other 10 tries -- make that 11 after Wednesday -- and most of them weren't even close: only two were decided by six points or less.
Eh, I'm still pretty pleased with the win.


giggins said...

Just want to commend you on the excellent analysis you offer. You are my eyes on the Hawks (a team I've followed since '68), and I appreciate it. Living in Chicago, I'm currently forced to witness the slow motion "push to the playoffs" that the copycat media hypes concerning the 29-36 Bulls. This is cognitive dissonance at its best. There is no possible scenario in which the NBA would profit from having a team like that playing games that count.

Jason Walker said...

Here, here, Zoe---well said--especially about Bret's analysis--

Any chance you could route Joakim Noah down here?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Hoopinion has definately become one of the first places I check the morning after a game when I get up in the morning to see if the game analysis has been posted. I can't say I always agree with everything that you say, but it's great to have someone deliver something beyond the cookie-cutter analysis of ESPN and the AJC.

Please keep up the good work...

giggins said...

Noah? I think the Bulls would pay someone to take him. He's been pretty awful.

Bret LaGree said...

I'm flattered. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Noah is pretty good in his role and probably will get better. I'd trade for him.

Jason Walker said...

Noah would be perfect for the Hawks---but I'll let it lie lest I hijack Bret's Comments area to try and procure a legit center for the Birds----

Still--if you know the magic word I could say to make it happen---

Bret LaGree said...

This is a strongly pro-Noah blog, hijack allowed.

Unknown said...

Noah close to 10 pts 10 rebs in last 15 games since getting around 30 minutes a night. I assume the Bulls getting over the growing pains and keep him. I mean this come right after his tantrum or at least the most publicized one.