|Team||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
|CLE||82.9||1.01 ||50||20 ||38.5 ||21.7 |
|ATL||82.9 ||0.89||32.9 ||35.6 ||21.4 ||9.7|
Two things kept last night's game competitive. For the first time in the series the Atlanta Hawks got to the free throw line more often than the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cavaliers missed almost half of the free throws they took. Had Cleveland made free throws at the same rate they did through the first three games of the series (which was roughly their season average as well), they would have made another five of their 26 attempts and pushed the margin of victory into more familiar territory for everything else was the same in Game 4. Cleveland made a higher percentage of their field goals than the Hawks and rebounded far more of their misses than did Atlanta. The Hawks fouled a lot, too, which further negated their sole advantage: forcing more turnovers than they committed.
Being able to play Marvin Williams for 29:53 improved the Hawks defense as did Mike Woodson's decision to sit an offensively ineffective Mike Bibby for much of the second half. Flip Murray (14 points on 15 FGA plus 5 FTA, 2 assists, 2 turnovers) wasn't especially productive but he was less of a defensive liability. Of Atlanta's other seven rotation players, only Marvin Williams and Al Horford finished the night with a negative plus/minus for their time on the court without Mike Bibby. Josh Smith (without Bibby) was +9. Murray, Joe Johnson, and Mo Evans were all +6 without Bibby on the floor. Zaza Pachulia was +5.
This lesson may have been lost on the participants in the heat of the moment. Or, they're just being nice in public. Either way, I hope Rick Sund is looking more forward than backward when thinking about re-signing the aging point guard.
"If I do anything more than what I did tonight, we win this game. I didn’t shoot the ball well. I do anything and there is a good chance we come out on top."Mike Woodson fears the unknown:
"I would love to have him back next year. Mike Bibby is a big part of what we did this season. He came over last year and we don’t make the playoffs without Mike. We don’t win 47 games this year and sew up the fourth spot and host the first round at Philips Arena without Mike. I would love to have Mike back."Joe Johnson thinks it's "very important" to bring Bibby back. He and Woodson are simpatico in a lot of ways:
"We went to the playoffs two years in a row together. We won a series. I’m looking forward to having him back."Josh Smith's night was a mixed blessing. He was far and away the Hawks' best offensive player, scoring 26 points on 16 FGA and 12 FTA while turning the ball over just twice. He also chose to use half of his field goal attempts on jump shots* (2-8), grabbed just eight rebounds (two offensive) in 45:04, picked up another technical foul, and played hard only intermittently. Smith provided the season's final hint of how good he could be were he to commit himself to excelling while, at the same time, sowing the season's final seeds of doubt that he'll ever feel like doing that.
*Smith attempted 68 jump shots in 11 playoff games. He made 15 of them.
"You show up to the fight like that and who knows, this series goes six or seven games. It’s going to be hard not to wonder what might have been."I disagree with Evans in that I've come to believe that talking about lack of effort has almost entirely precluded talking about lack of talent and lack of tactical acumen. Josh Smith is the only player who visibly dogs it from time to time. I don't believe for a second that it's a lack of effort that keeps Joe Johnson from beating guys off the dribble or Mike Bibby from playing good defense. They simply aren't capable of doing those things. Combine that with a refusal or inability to put the talented young players in positions to succeed (keeping Josh Smith in the low- or high-post, using Al Horford's quickness against bigger, slower centers, taking full advantage of Marvin Williams' inside/outside offensive game, letting Acie Law IV play pick-and-roll for 12 minutes a night, etc.) and you're asking effort to make up for a lot of failings which take place before anyone sets foot on the court.
The Human Highlight Blog:
Game Four once again showed that a team can not live by jump shots and one-on-one moves. Inside presence is needed, in the post, on the drive/penetration, and then back out. Breaking down your opponents on the majority of possession works when you face lesser competition---but playing that way in the playoffs makes you the inferior team.Cavs: The Blog:
We will hear about the injuries, but as we have shown, even when healthy this pattern has held true, resonating in both the road record and the record against the top teams in the league.
Losing Al Horford hurts on the defensive glass, but that argument doesn't hold even a drop of water on the offensive end, where the Hawks routinely chose to avoid Horford in favor of the isolation game--and as such have relegated the former #3 pick in the draft to towel boy status on that end in most games. There wasn't even a consistent effort this season to zip the ball up the court to the often sprinting Horford when healthy, so we're not optimistic the spinner would have landed on The Godfather's number at all even if he had been (100) percent for Game Four.
Defense will always be there. When the jumpers aren’t falling, the whistles aren’t making a symphony, and the ball isn’t moving and the bench isn’t stepping up, defense will always be there. Give effort and make rotations, and if you have the talent defense will be there. And in what was, in a lot of ways, a let-down game for the team, the defense was there, keeping all penetration out, not giving up open looks from three, absolutely suffocating Joe Johnson every time he put the ball on the floor, and destroying every Hawk except for Josh Smith.Of course, the opposite of that first sentence is true as well.
The Cavs had periods of terrible offense, turned the ball over way too much, and missed way too many free throws. But they defended relentlessly and put the game in the hands of their star and his well-armed teammates. Or exactly the way the team was drawn up.John Hollinger:
The Hawks got almost nothing easy and were held to just 32 percent shooting, which set a franchise record for lowest field goal percentage allowed in a playoff game. It permitted the Cavs to overcome the subpar offense as LeBron James scored 27 points with eight rebounds and eight assists.
"My belief is you have to defend to win on the road, especially in the playoffs," coach Mike Brown said. "Our group understands that and respects it and embraces it."
This went in the books as a double-figure win, too, but it wasn't decided until Mo Williams hit a 3-pointer with 52.1 seconds left to put the Cavs up by eight.
That shot ended a fateful 63-second Cleveland trip that featured two of the defining elements of this series -- the Cavs owning the boards, and Cleveland attacking the defense of Atlanta's Mike Bibby. The possession began with 1:55 left and the home crowd in full lather after the Hawks cut the deficit to 79-74, but Anderson Varejao and Ilgauskas each rebounded James misses to keep the possession alive for more than a minute.
Then, after a foul on Joe Johnson created a dead ball, the Hawks failed to go offense-defense and take Bibby out of the game. Cleveland created a switch that left Bibby guarding James in the post, Atlanta doubled, and when the next-closest defender, Josh Smith, turned his head to call out a rotation behind him, James snapped a pass out top to Williams -- who took advantage of the extra split second it took Smith to react to nail a backbreaking triple.