Monday, March 09, 2009

Hawks 87 Pistons 83



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
DET 81.9
43.7 22.8
33.3 15.9
ATL 81.9 1.06 44.8

Josh Smith:
"I'm going to put the onus on myself. I haven't been going to the boards like I should be in previous games and I wanted to try to get back to the old Josh."
Mike Woodson:
"He was huge, and that's how he's got to play. He's got to play at the level every night the rest of the way through this. And he's capable of doing it. He's got to have support from everybody around him and everybody's just got to play as a team the rest of the way."
The rebounding was good as were the four blocks but are we to overlook that, either in order to rebound adequately, or due to the extra energy apparently necessary to rebound adequately, Josh Smith must dominate the basketball offensively, taking all manner of ill-advised, poorly executed shots to put up 19 points on 17 shots and 9 free throw attempts. The team's least efficient player takes 22% of the team's shots, makes 35% of those shots, and we're patting ourselves on the back about this?

It was a much needed win but there were obvious reasons for concern visible beyond Josh Smith's decision-making*: Joe Johnson struggled to score, Mike Bibby struggled to defend**, Mike Woodson doesn't consistently use anyone other than Flip Murray off the bench, and Marvin Williams missed most of the second half with tightness in his back.

*High energy though his decisions were and acknowledging that, long-term, that might be a net positive trade-off.

**Visiting Atlanta this week: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and TJ Ford.

In the interests of fairness and staving off madness, there were two obvious positives: the 24-10 Hawks run that lasted from 8:53 of the third quarter to 10:31 of the fourth* and Al Horford's consistent offensive production despite inconsistent and relatively limited touches. It's frightening to imagine where this team would be without the offense that Horford (and, to a lesser extent, Pachulia) creates out of scraps. While Josh Smith's 19 point, 17 shot, and rare double-figure rebounding performance drew praise, Horford's 17 point, 13 shot, and identical to Smith with the exception of being not at all unexpected 12 rebound (4 offensive) performance did not draw sufficient notice.

*In a game with as few possessions (due to a combination of pace and offensive rebounds) as last night's it takes a while for a run to manifest itself.

Woodson, in a different self-congratulatory vein:
"We swept a great team, something that hasn't been done here in many years. That's unbelievable because they've had wonderful runs the last several years."
Had the Hawks swept any one of the last seven Piston teams, the ones that each won at least 50 games in a season, Woodson's quote would make more sense. As it stands, he's patting himself on the back for winning 3 games (2 at home) against a team on pace to win 42 games only if you round up.

These are the reasons I took yesterday off in an effort to stave off bitterness and sarcasm. It's an on-going process. I'm still not pleased with the state of team but I look forward to the possibility of witnessing something encouraging tonight. Ideally, that thing would be the Hawks playing smart and purposeful basketball for significant stretches of the game. Or, if it comes to it, some part of me will be satisified with Julian Wright getting significant burn for the Hornets. Either way, the game will be live blogged.


Unknown said...

here's where I think you're being too harsh with Josh Smith. He showed energy. He definitely was going to the rack. Now, before he was doing neither and still showing a lack of basketball IQ. So, I think you underscore his effectiveness if you don't acknowledge that he was passing the ball well, etc. We all know that he's not a great shooter and I cringe every time he's outside 12-15 ft, but I think if you got that Josh every night - he's going to do more than 19 and 12.

Now, that said, Al definitely shouldn't be underscored and I agree that he should get more touches, but I think last night was your dream of Al and Josh as your focal points manifested. Kinda hard on your vision, aren't you?

Bret LaGree said...

It may be that I'm on the edge of burn out, hence taking a full day away from both basketball and the computer yesterday, but Saturday night's game left me, even with the obvious, long-absent effort from Smith, with a profound feeling of "is this all there is to look forward to?"

I don't think Josh was such a large part of the offense as part of any plan, it just sort of happened, and, again, thumbs up to the energy but I'm still disappointed in the decision-making on some of the key possessions down the stretch.

Since it's 82 games long and the Hawks won, I should (and will try to) just let it go.