|Team||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
|ATL||95.2 ||1.197 ||58.0||24.7 ||23.1||15.8 |
|NY||95.2||1.061||50.0 ||18.8 ||21.4 ||16.8|
The Knicks' defensive performance in the second half put the Hawks' defensive performance in the first half in perspective. There's an obvious, visible difference between an average defensive team playing a poor half against a poor offensive team and a poor defensive team playing a poor half against a good offensive team.
Overall, the Hawks weren't good defensively and, considering the opposition*, that's still a reasonable area of concern for Hawk partisans. How the offense worked in the second half, though, even accounting for the minimal resistance from the Knicks, should be taken to heart by players, coaches, and fans. Joe Johnson is a fine one-on-one player, worthy of dominating the ball in an advantageous** matchup. Al Horford, even when matched up against smaller defenders is a far more effective offensive player when catching the ball on the move, be it in the half-court or after out-running opposing frontcourt players down the floor. Josh Smith is a poor player when slinging jump shots from the perimeter (1-3 on the night) but a devastating player when, like Horford, attacking the rim (9-12 on shots at the rim, 2-4 on FTA, 4 assists) in any circumstance. When those three, good passers all, are drawing a defense's attention, both Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans are eminently capable of finding open space on the perimeter to knock down the resultant open shots.
Sure, Marvin Williams doesn't appear to fill a useful role in the offense right now***, Jamal Crawford was so poor defensively in the first half that Mike Woodson couldn't afford to play him, Zaza Pachulia and Joe Smith similarly failed to earn even a second of playing time in the second half, the Hawks' veterans again failed to put an inferior team away early and, in failing, kept Jeff Teague on the bench, but a 13-point win over this Knicks team is not going to be an exercise in perfection so much as competence.
*A poor rebounding team whose coach wants his players to shoot a lot of threes but the players, outside or Gallinari and Douglas, can't make or aren't making threes.
** The first half demonstrated his (not unique) inability to score, dribble, or pass when double-teamed effectively.
***But what a talent to have in reserve.
There exist levels above tonight's performance for which this team can strive to reach. If they take the lessons (possibly) learned tonight and make them a part of the basic repertoire (say, starting Friday night in Boston) this could be a red-letter night for the team. If, however, they choose to take as tonight's primary lesson that they can play just one half of good basketball and still probably skate past inferior opposition then nights like this will become a discomfiting norm and Friday night's game in Boston might well resemble the loss in Los Angeles where proud effort fails to overcome inconsistent execution and the distance between the Hawks and the league's championship contenders appears as vast as ever.
With my track record as a prognosticator, I'll keep mum save for hinting at my anticipation to discover but one bit more about this team.