|Team||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
|ATL||87.6 ||1.267 ||57.2||19.3 ||36.1||14.8 |
|TOR||87.6||1.016||50.0 ||31.1 ||29.4 ||19.4|
It was more competitive than the first game between these two teams even if last night's game failed to rise to the heights of actual competitiveness for (at least) its final 18 minutes. That it was closer and that Toronto appeared to try* probably made this win more impressive for the Hawks than last week's larger blowout victory.
*The Raptors led 18-10 with four minutes left in the first quarter. The Hawks responded by scoring 47 points in the next twelve minutes to take a 14-point lead with four minutes left in the second quarter. Toronto would never get closer than 11 points from that point forward.
I've a theory (unproven, natch) from my dabbling in writing about college basketball that margin of victory is important, but so is the shape of that margin. I suspect that a team that is +20 points per 100 possessions by scoring 125 points per 100 possessions and allowing 105 points per 100 possessions is more susceptible to an upset than a team that is +15 by scoring 110 points per 100 possessions and allowing 95 points per 100 possessions. The latter team is above average both offensively and defensively. The former relies just on an outstanding offense to outscore its opposition.
That's why I feel the 126.7-101.6 efficiency margin last night in Toronto, though smaller than the 154.3-121.5 margin of the game in Atlanta last week, denotes a more encouraging/replicable result even if it's not better in absolute terms.
Thus ends the aesthetics of statistics portion of this post.
As one might expect in a drubbing, there's plenty of encomia to go around. Joe Johnson rebounded from his dreadful performance in the blowout of the Bulls by leading the way with a 20 point/15 shot/5 assist night in just 27 minutes. The rest of the starters took care of business (both offensively and defensively) sufficiently quickly so as not to have the time to amass especially impressive individual stats. Even Josh Smith's poor shooting night, augmented as it was with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, was positive in that it was a result of failing to make good shots rather than choosing to take bad shots.
One must be careful not to give the starters too much credit for their early exit. The bench did their part to let their betters rest so much. For Mo Evans (15 points on 9 shots, 3-5 on 3PTA) and Jeff Teague (11 points on 6 shots, 7 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, another block) it was as if garbage time on Wednesday night never ended. Jamal Crawford's level of play has been so consistently high that what stands out in a 15 point/12 shot performance is the uncharacteristically high number of turnovers he committed: 4. Last but not least, Zaza Pachulia* ably covered for the absent Joe Smith by making 6 of 7 field goal attempts, both of his free throws, and grabbing 6 rebounds (4 offensive). In sum, players six through nine in the Hawks' rotation made 67.6% of 34 field goal attempts, 4 of 9 three-point attempts, all five of their free throws, grabbed 17 rebounds, and earned 11 assists in just under 102 combined minutes.
"When our bench comes out and plays like that, we're a tough team to beat. It makes us a lot more deadly, you can't really sit up and guard just one or two guys when you've got everybody rolling the way we were tonight."Mike Woodson:
"Our second unit was huge tonight. This is three straight games they've played unbelievable."Mo Evans:
"We knew that they would come out trying to reconcile what happened in Atlanta. We knew they really wanted to avenge that loss, they were going to play hard and they're a tough home team. We came out with that focus and I think it paid off for us."Chris Bosh:
"You're going to get beat sometimes by teams that are better than you, and they're better than us. I can't sit here and be like, 'Well, they're not better than us, I think we're better.' No, they're better than us. They beat us. They smoked us once and then they beat us again today."DeMar DeRozan:
"Our effort was there at the beginning but it slowly [began] to lack as the game went on."Doug Smith, TheStar.com:
When it goes bad, it goes bad in a hurry for the Raptors, who get down and tend to cower, unable or unwilling to fight through even the tiniest bit of adversity most nights.Peachtree Hoops:
Whether it's a flaw of the collective character of the players, an ill-conceived playing rotation or, most likely, a combination of both, it needs to be fixed and fixed fast before the NBA season gets entirely away from them.
If I knew how to use youtube, I would create a Hawks highlight mix for this game, throw down some hip hop beats in the background, and inter-splice Dominique Wilkins quotes. Josh Smith dunk. "Man the Raptors just don't play defense." Al Horford lay in. "if you move the ball, this team will not stop you." Mo Evans drive. "This team does not try." I think this could have real potential. Toronto fans might like it at least.From AltRaps at Raptors Republic:
Quite obviously Atlanta knows how to play Chris Bosh. Yes, he got his double double, but they made him work for it and you could almost see the energy leave his body. Good effort on a night that didn’t feature many for the home team.*Zaza's winning people over everywhere.