Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hawks 105 Heat 90


Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MIA 89.4
50.0 13.9
24.3 16.8
ATL 89.4 1.17 47.2

The Hawks know how to defend Dwyane Wade. The sagging, switching defense combined with a lack of attention paid to the other four (largely immobile) players, and Dwyane Wade, one of the five or six best players in the world, turns into the equivalent of Iso-Joe circa 2006, lack of free throw attempts included. I fully expect Miami to do anything to win or willingly tank games (if necessary) five months from now so as not to face the Hawks in the playoffs again.

Not that it was an entirely fair fight tonight. The Hawks were at home and the Heat were on the back end of back-to-back games. Had it not been for a great stint by Miami's second unit to open the second quarter, one that turned a 26-23 Hawks lead into a 35-32 Miami advantage, the Heat might have capitulated at the half rather than during the fourth quarter. Even with the second unit's second quarter effort, Miami could have been forgiven, given the circumstances, for going through the motions in the second half.

Mike Woodson had a quick hook with his own second unit (Crawford, Evans, Joe Smith, Horford, plus Marvin Williams) in the second quarter. With the starters back in, Joe Johnson made a three-pointer to tie the game at 35. Erik Spoelstra called a timeout to put his starters back in the game. That didn't work. From the moment the Hawk starters re-entered the game to the end of the first half, Atlanta outscored Miami 28-8, a run highlighted by transition dunks, follow dunks, and wide open three-pointers.

To Miami's credit, they were not the team that came out flat in the second half. Mario Chalmers made a couple of threes, Jermaine O'Neal took advantage of the referees' game-long and consistent reluctance to call fouls* to protect the rim with authority, and Dwyane Wade finally got to the free throw line with 32.6 seconds left in the third quarter. The end result: Miami took the quarter** 29-19 to cut Atlanta's 17-point halftime lead down to seven. But Miami's second unit couldn't repeat its first half performance. It took the Heat four minutes and 38 seconds to make a field goal in the fourth quarter, a Michael Beasley layup which served only to pull Miami within 14 points.

*Josh Smith's 6-16 night from the field was due not to poor shot selection but to an inability to finish at the basket versus contact.

**Not worth one point for all you old CBA heads. Topeka Sizzlers for life.

The Hawks cruised from there with Joe Johnson putting the finishing touches on a 30 points (21 FGA) performance with Josh Smith chipping in a nifty 16 point, 12 rebound, 7 assist, Al Horford adding 16 points and 12 rebounds in just 31 minutes, an aggressive* Marvin Williams tying a season-high with 14 points, and Jamal Crawford ably spreading the floor on the offensive end and defending capably on the opposite to chalk up a +20 despite scoring just 10 points on 10 shots.

*Multiple plays were run for Marvin while he shared the court with the bench. Had it been a night where attacking the basket was rewarded with free throw attempts, Marvin could have scored 20.

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