Sunday, April 05, 2009

Magic 88 Hawks 82



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ORL 90.9 0.97
43.7 24.1
26.5 14.3
ATL 90.9
0.90 40.9

Though last night's loss has most to do with Orlando's superior long-term strategic planning resulting in acquiring a true franchise player* and surrounding him with suitably complementary players, it wasn't Mike Woodson's finest night either. He contrived to play Solomon Jones more than Zaza Pachulia, saw his defensive stopper Mario West surrender scores on both defensive possessions he participated in at the end of the second quarter, kept a clearly disengaged and unproductive Josh Smith on the court for the entirety of Orlando's 29-8 run, and, with Orlando up 13 with 2:32 left, attempted to raise the white flag of surrender, sending Solomon Jones and Mario West to the scorer's table only to have to recall them as his first unit made a futile effort** to win the game.

*At far less cost than Atlanta's acquisition of Joe Johnson.

**But an effort nonetheless and effort not being such bounteous commodity in Hawksland that one can easily dismiss the appearance of one regardless of score and situation.

Now, the good news...
  • Al Horford played well considering the opposition and being ignored offensively* for most of the second half.
  • The Hawks will win at least six more games than last season.
  • The Hawks have a two-game lead for the fourth-seed with five games to play. They will probably have home-court advantage in the first round and if they have home-court advantage they will probably win their first round series.
*Mike Woodson:
"We had our best offensive players on the floor when we went into that drought. So you have to give Orlando credit."
Orlando's 29-8 run lasted 11:12. Al Horford was on the bench for 5:32 of that. Draw conclusions as you will.

Joe Johnson:
"I thought we gave ourselves a pretty good lead. We got a little complacent. We let fatigue become a factor. They made a run, and we never got back in the game."
First commenter that makes sense of this quote from Woodson wins my respect:
"Those teams are not going to lie down and say, 'Here, Atlanta, you can have it.' That's the positive behind tonight's loss. We're still in the driver's seat."
I think he's trying to say what I said in my third bullet point above, but I'm not positive* that's the case.

*Make your jokes about "I'm not positive." I can take it.

Hawks Str8Talk:
While we are befuddled, let's go to the Mike Woodson press conference. First comment "Fatigue set in during the game, but we can't use fatigue as an excuse." Uh, isn't saying that fatigue set in basically the sly way of saying - that's our excuse. Otherwise, why not point out what we didn't do - such as play unselfish basketball, get a spark from the bench, work the post, etc. and leave it at that.
Third Quarter Collapse's Ben Q. Rock:
Hawks coach Mike Woodson absolutely baffles me. On a night when the Magic's wide-open three-pointers aren't dropping, he still elected to double-team Howard despite the fact that Al Horford had some success pushing him off the block and, in one instance, stuffing his hook shot at the point of release. Were I coaching the Hawks, I would have elected to play Howard one-on-one and force the Magic's perimeter players to shoot contested three-pointers. Instead, they got enough open looks to work themselves into a groove. That was about all she wrote.


Unknown said...

I'm not sure that I can co-sign on the Orlando planning being so much better than ours. I think picking a superstar is not a hard thing to do at the #1 spot in the draft. Wasn't hard for Orlando or Cleveland to pick who they picked and then figure out a mix that works on the back end.

Not only that - who doesn't want to play with a superstar. So, I really am trying to figure out if you are saying that Billy Knight have waited to see if he had a true superstar in the draft BEFORE looking to acquire Joe Johnson (or a talent of his ilk)?

Bret LaGree said...

Drafting a superstar and building around him or acquiring lots of assets and trading some of them for a superstar are pretty much the only way you can build a championship-caliber team.

Trading two first round picks and a quality role player in order to give a max contract to a fringe All-Star is going to qualify as inferior planning compared to every team not owned by Donald Sterling, run by Isiah Thomas, or coached by a disinterested yet meddling Don Nelson.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I can't agree with that planning comment either. It's not like we drafted Marvin Williams to be a role player - we drafted him to be the focus of the team. That's what every team tries to do when they pick in the top 3: just because it pans out for some teams doesn't mean that the other teams don't know what they were doing. By drafting Williams and signing Johnson, we were trying to build a powerful 1-2 combination for the future.

BTW, that trade for Johnson turned out to be Diaw, Robin Lopez and cash for Joe Johnson. Yeah, we sure got hosed by trading a role player and two mid first round picks for an all-star.

Bret LaGree said...

I don't know that Phoenix being dumb enough to draft Robin Lopez and cheap enough to sell the other draft pick makes Robin Lopez and cash the de facto value of the two picks traded away.

Marvin Williams wasn't drafted to be the focus of the team. He was drafted to partner Joe Johnson who this organization has treated as franchise player since they initiated their attempt to acquire him.

I think that's based on a mistaken evaluation of Joe Johnson's talent (He'd be a benefit to any team but a team built around him will never be capable of contending for a championship.) and the cost of acquiring him adds to the pile of resources wasted during the Knight/Woodson years.

None of the above should be interpreted as me trying to get you to agree with me.

Anonymous said...

Why would the value of the picks be any higher than Robin Lopez and cash for us? It's not like we've been setting the world on fire with draft picks recently - in 2006 (the year of the first pick) for example, we had top-5 picks in both rounds and wound up with the amazing combo of Shelden and Solo. More likely, the picks we traded would have yielded benchwarmers or at best role players for us.

Bret LaGree said...

Why would the value of the picks be any higher than Robin Lopez and cash for us?

That's a fair point as well. The better question is why I continue to waste energy hypothetically re-rebuilding the Hawks under the assumption that the direction would have been more Pritchard or Ainge and less John Paxson.

Maybe it would help if I took the time to make a clear, coherent point in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it would be nice to get a blog post on this at some point if you really do feel this way - maybe on one of those long offseason stretches of nothingness (if you still plan on blogging during the offseason...?)

jrauch said...

I wish I could make sense of Woodson's quote.
The closest approximation I can reach is Woody's trying to explain how teams won't just let Atlanta walk into having the fourth spot and home court advantage, but that it is practically impossible for those charging teams to catch the Hawks.

Much like his moral victory argument about last year's playoff series with the Celtics, he's trying to show how a glaring negative (the team's continued inconsistent performance in important games against the league's elite, usually resulting in horrible losses, need I bring up that home and home with Orlando that effectively ended the division race with them dismantlying us) is actually a positive.

If Woody were Captain of the Titanic, he'd argue the boat sinking speaks to how effectively they put rich people in life boats and lock the poor folks below.

As to the draft argument, I can't say one way or the other whether the picks would have been better in the Hawks hands than elsewhere (one of those picks did ultimately result in Rajon Rondo, just for the record), but two points to consider:

1) Joe Johnson, at 28, has more or less peaked as a perimeter player. Especially as Woody continues to run him into the ground minutes wise. As good as he is, he's a borderline All Star and a good player. But he'll never be truly great. You build around great, or compile a lot of good. The Hawks have neither.

2) The picks are only as valuable as the talent evaluators behind them. Clearly Billy Knight missed on a ton, no need to repeat those, but did hit on picks like Josh Smith. For all his limitations, Josh is a good pick in the later third of the first round. The teams, historically, that remain the most effective are those that draft the best. (Hello, Spurs. Tony Parker was what, a 28th or 29th pick in the first round? The Heat took Mario Chalmers in the second last year as a recent example of a good, not great, value player.)