Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hawks 109 Timberwolves 97



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MINN 86.8 1.12
51.3 36
27.9 13.8
ATL 86.8
1.26 58

If the Timberwolves we're trying to win that game, I'll eat my hat. The Hawks' starters didn't show up for the second half*, the bench beyond Flip Murray and Pachulia just isn't capable of contributing in any meaningful way**, and the Hawks were never in any real danger of losing because, as I mentioned, the Timberwolves weren't trying to win.

*During which Minnesota scored 61 points.

**In 28:46 they cumulatively missed four field goal attempts, made two free throws, grabbed two offensive rebounds, blocked a shot, and committed five fouls.

Flip Murray (right) deserves praise for his shooting night and for the even more unexpected 5 assists he dished out. Al Horford was his usual steady and productive self in each of his four brief stints. Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby were great in the first half but thoroughly phoned it in in the second. Josh Smith continued to suggest that rebounding (just one last night) and taking bad shots (just one last night) are somehow intrinsically linked in his mind. Zaza Pachulia out-rebounded Kevin Love.

There were good things on display from the Hawks last night but the second half provides a further reminder, as if Saturday wasn't enough, how the Hawks differ from a genuinely good NBA team: They don't defend consistently, they don't put teams away, and, with Marvin Williams and Acie Law IV out they literally have seven active players capable of contributing in an NBA game. Sure, Solomon Jones or even Mario West might steal you a few minutes if they share the floor with four real, live NBA players but last night, the end of the Timberwolves' (the Timberwolves) bench showed themselves far more capable of making plays, creating offense, whatever you want to call it, than the Hawks' bench.

But, you know, congratulations on clinching a winning season and moving one game closer to securing home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs. In the short-term, there's little for Hawks fans to worry about. For anyone curious as to how this collection of assets, under the control of this franchise, progresses beyond being the fourth-seed in the East to compete for a Conference of NBA Championship has to wonder if that's possible before even beginning the difficult task of imagining how that could happen.

Flip Murray:
"My teammates were finding me and we had some good mismatches. I had some chances early where I got to go down in the paint and get it started in the post with a little guy guarding me. And then in the second half we switched out a lot on the pick and roll and I had a big man on me and I was able to [isolate] a lot and shoot over the top."
Josh Smith:
"Flip’s in playoff form right now. He was on fire out there and we had to ride that. And everybody else needs to follow his lead, because there’s no reason not to step it up now as we get closer."
Joe Johnson:
"Play time is over. Flip is a vet. He knows that. I think you could tell by the way he was playing tonight and how focused he was. There’s no more messing around for us."
Mike Woodson on Acie Law's back injury:
"It’s a tough one. We could really use Acie right now, especially with the teams we’re going to see this week. He just woke up one morning and his back had locked up on him. I hate it for Acie because he really had a chance to help us right now and he’s out."
The timing of Law's return is uncertain.


Jason Walker said...

So surly.

Unknown said...

No complaints on the blog, though I think you have to exempt Gardner from this bench rant - I have yet to see him play enough to believe that he couldn't be a bigger version of Salim Stoudamire with a skill (shooting) that we could use vs. just being another Mike Woodson casualty.

And I'm not sure what game you watched, but Al Horford (through no fault of his own) did nothing last night. How that was worth a sentence of any praise...I'm not sure. Same for Josh - I normally share your thoughts, but again - last night, we didn't think about our bigs at all. And we didn't have to...

rbubp said...

It makes you wonder why we don't investigate bringing David Anderson on board, since we own the rights to his contract and did use a draft pick on the guy.

Drew Ditzel said...

al horford had a double, double (on 54% shooting) and helped keep kevin love to 6 rebounds.

while not dominant, calling it "nothing" is a bit strong.

Bret LaGree said...

12 and 13 for Al in 26:58. That's nothing I can live with.

If you'd seen Thomas Gardner play at Missouri, you'd be comfortable including him with the rest of the bench. He wasn't anywhere near as good a shooter as Salim and would be a turnover machine were he ever to try and create his own shot.

Drew Ditzel said...

and he did it in 26 minutes.

Bret LaGree said...


You'll be interested in the next post (coming up shortly).

I am nowhere near fast enough this morning.

rbubp said...

Re: "Al Horford did nothing"...a bit ridiculous.

rbubp said...

Something I find very interesting, Bret, is Hollinger's statistical attempts to predict who will perform at what level in the playoffs based on regular-season performance. These attempts include his season-long rankings that everyone is familiar with, where point differential and schedule strength are given heavy weight (perhaps justifiably), and now his latest tangent is to use the +/- stat of teams' starting fives to predict who will be tougher or less tough in the playoffs.

Because the bench is less of a factor in the playoffs, and we just saw how Murray and Pachulia are killing teams in the second quarter (last night too), Hollinger reasons that Orlando and Cleveland will be especially tough and that the Hawks, among others, will be less tough in the playoffs because of reliance on the bench.

Here's why I think this is just comedy: I have to assume that Hollinger is assuming that the teams are playing their hardest every night and that somehow, some way the regular season performances are directly proportional to the playoff ones.

First of all, any NBA fan knows that 82 games is too many, that back-t-backs ought to be discounted right off the top, and that some regular-season games are played with playoff intensity but that the vast majority just are not.If we all know this, why doesn't Hollinger know that no one can tell what the Hawks will do based off of their regular-season stats, because they are even more apt to take off stretches and games than other good teams (or at least I think they are...JJ and JS are my support).

What would be really useful is to see how the Hawks' starting five played against playoff teams' starting fives. Because that is the only time the starting five really tries (and even then they sometimes appear not to, such as the other night in Cleveland).

My own belief is that the good hawks will appear more consistently and that defense will happen every night. I expect the road performances will be better, too. But those are based on collective observed interpretations rather than stats, so I guess we'll see.

Bret LaGree said...

I think Hollinger, rather than assuming that everybody plays hard every night assumes that over the course of the season everyone plays hard, deals with travel, back-to-backs, or has off nights for whatever reason are relatively equal amount. I think's that's plausible if you're looking only at the teams which win often enough to make the playoffs.

My concern with the bench, specifically Flip, in the playoffs is that the other team just needs to put a big guard on him to seriously limit his offensive game. I don't know if Daequan Cook or Luther Head is that guy but, if either is, that would decrease my otherwise positive feelings about a first-round matchup against Miami.

CoCo said...

The offense should run through Al.

Bronnt said...

I don't think DaeQuan Cook (I only just now realized how odd to spell that name is) or any Miami Heat guard will be able to negate Flip's impact. The biggest threat to Flip's productivity is Flip Murray. He's creative, even good, at finishing around the basket, but he's also a very enthusiastic streak shooter.

He should enjoy some success during the anticipated first round match-up against the Heat, but assuming we play Cleveland in the second round, it won't matter whether he's productive or not.

rbubp said...

I don't think there's any way the Hawks lose to Miami in the first round. The home court alone will ensure that...in the second round, with Cleveland lurking, I do like the Hawks' chances IF Marvin is available to guard LeBron. If not, forget it: star power carries the day. And maybe forget it anyway just because of this team's inability to avoid sh*tting its pants on others' home courts.