Monday, January 11, 2010

Hawks 102 Celtics 96

Boxscore

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 85.7
1.191
51.3 29.9
22.0 8.2
BOS 85.7 1.121 63.1
27.7
12.5
22.2

Doc Rivers lost it. There's no way of knowing how things would have played out had he not decided, with 6:43 left in the third quarter and Boston up 67-57, to compound the damage done by the flagrant foul called on Glen Davis by flipping out, drawing two technical fouls, an ejection, and creating a bench atmosphere that made it acceptable for assistant coach Armond Hill to get a technical of his own but, in the reality we inhabit, choosing that path didn't help his team. Marvin Williams made one of two free throws and the Hawks didn't score on their possession subsequent to the flagrant foul but Jamal Crawford made all three of the technical free throws. Boston got the ball back up 6, never got the lead back up to 10, and the Hawks tied the game (for the first time since 13-13) before the third quarter ended.

Tom Thibodeau has a reputation as a defensive mastermind but, as acting head coach, he repeated the same mistake Doc Rivers made in Game 4 of the 2008 first-round playoff series: leaving Ray Allen to try and guard Joe Johnson one-on-one. While Boston struggled to score 16 points in the fourth quarter, Johnson got 12 points of his own on just 8 shots. Curiously, Thibodeau also failed to make a single substitution while in charge. Glen Davis was -13 in 27:31 while emergency starter Brian Scalabrine was +9 in 20:54, both numbers seeming representative of their effectiveness to the naked eye.

Mike Woodson didn't lose it and he demonstrated that he may have learned from some recent tactical decisions that haven't worked. Marvin Williams played the final 12:33 of the game and, though he didn't score, defended and rebounded admirably while Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford dominated the ball. Williams made good use of his length and lateral movement to keep Rajon Rondo in front of him (something his teammates had taken turns trying and failing to do for much of the game) for more than one possession late in the game.

The Hawks also turned the predictability of their insistence upon switching on screens into an advantage by repeatedly switching Williams or Jamal Crawford onto Kendrick Perkins or Davis, inviting Boston to play fourth quarter possessions through those two rather than Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. Davis scored nine points in the final quarter but that's a fair trade for Paul Pierce using just 4 of Boston's 19 fourth quarter offensive possessions, even before accounting for those four Pierce possessions resulting in two missed jump shots and two turnovers.

That Boston shot 63.1 eFG% for the game despite a 36.7 eFG% fourth quarter is, perhaps, the tempering factor in celebrating this comeback victory. Just as Hawks partisans rightly considered both Cleveland games and the Nate Robinson game to be lost by the Hawks as much as won by the opposition, one couldn't begrudge Celtic partisans for thinking the same of their team tonight. Boston (collectively) failed to maintain their composure, got away from what built their seemingly secure lead, and failed to respond to adjustments the Hawks made. It's a deadly trifecta regardless of one's perspective.

1 comment:

Pearson said...

Another thing that happened with the techs from the Boston bench was that it got Crawford going. Wasn't he 0-6 before the techs? Once he got to see it go through the net a couple of times, it was all he needed to get himself going.

Joe was terrific tonight, and I thought Marvin played a pretty nice game too. He didn't shoot that well, but he got some offensive boards, played some solid defense on a number of players, and generally mixed it up with people, going to the line 11 times. His FT rate has dropped this year, and it would be nice if he could get to the line more like last year.