Monday, March 16, 2009

Hawks 98 Trailblazers 80



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
PORT 83.6 0.96
47.8 29
28.6 7.2
ATL 83.6
1.17 54.3

It's difficult to maintain perspective on this team that's 12-and-a-half games, 8-and-a-half points per game better at home than they are on the road especially because two long blocks of home games sandwiched a 28-game stretch where the Hawks played 19 road games. So, though the Hawks aren't as good as they've looked the last five games* nor were they as poor as they looked much of the previous two months.

*I do think that Marvin Williams will be missed at some point before the season ends.

They're a 39-28 team* with a two-and-a-half game lead for the fourth seed in the East. They're above average both offensively and, now, defensively. They've assured themselves of finishing the season with the franchise's best record in a decade. This has already been a successful season.

*38-29 Pythagorean record

Yesterday, Joe Johnson continued to make shots* at a high rate, but at the risk of being an obscurist, I'd argue that his seven defensive rebounds should not be completely overshadowed by his 35 points on 27 shots. Had it come down to it, I'm not entirely convinced that Brandon Roy (29 points on 19 shots) couldn't have matched Johnson shot for shot. Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Zaza Pachulia had their hands full keeping the league's best offensive rebounding team off the glass. They weren't entirely successful, combining for just eight defensive rebounds but the Hawks held Portland below their season average on the offensive glass in large part due to Johnson and Mike Bibby (4 defensive rebounds) securing the ball while the big men worked first to box out**.

Perhaps Joe's aura blinds opponents while going after those misses.

*Were I a Portland fan, I'm pretty sure this entire recap would be about Nate McMillan's decision to keep Nicolas Batum on Johnson for the first 10 minutes of the second half despite Travis Outlaw's (who is also a better offensive player than Batum) effective defense on Johnson in the second quarter.

**Drew seconds this.

Like Indiana on Friday night, Portland let Josh Smith catch-and-(hesitate-and-)shoot to his heart's content (2-4 on jump shots) and refrained from double-teaming when he received the ball with his back to the basket. Also, like Indiana, Portland wasn't given cause to re-think this tactical choice. To Smith's credit, he eventually did some damage in transition and on the offensive glass, but, had it been a day where Joe Johnson was not unstoppable, with Al Horford limited (in terms of opportunities rather than efficiency) by Joel Przybilla's size and defensive ability, and the bench failing to contribute much Smith's struggles stood out before the game was decided.

Speaking of the bench, though it's common knowledge that Mike Woodson will latch onto any excuse to keep Joe Johnson on the court, I don't think he had much of a choice yesterday with the combination of Portland's depth and his own bench's ineffectiveness. Of course, giving Mario West* almost six minutes in the first half lowers the ceiling for bench productiveness.

*Note to 'Nique: The reason no one blocks out Mario West is that he has so little offensive ability that the other team doesn't even pretend to guard him in the halfcourt.

Blazer's Edge on Joe Johnson's domination of Nicolas Batum:
[Johnson] did everything but stop mid-air to sign autographs, and I believe Nicolas Batum would have taken one if he had done that.


CoCo said...

What must Acie be thinking about Mario these days????

Drew Ditzel said...

"had it come to it" regarding roy matching joe shot for shot.

maybe he could have, but roy's team lost by 18 so i would say efficency is slightly irrelevant. it came down to winning the game and joe dominated roy in that catagory. esp. when portland needed shots in that third quarter.