Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hawks 108 Kings 97



Hoopdata Boxscore


Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
SAC 91.6
48.9 17.2
26.8 15.3
ATL 91.6 1.179 54.5

I don't know that much was learned from that victory. We already knew the Hawks can outlast inferior opposition at home with only sporadic defensive contributions. We already knew that the Hawks are difficult to beat anywhere when Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford make their shots (14-26 FGA, 4-9 3PTA combined). We already knew that the Hawks will not ask their post players to carry them offensively even when they posses seriously significant* matchup advantages. Josh Smith and Al Horford combined for 31 points on 17 shots, were 9-11 at the rim, and earned seven** assists between them. Still, the Hawks used more than a quarter (21 of 78, 26.9%) of their field goal attempts on long two-point shots.

*Sacramento's post rotation: Jason Thompson, Jon Brockman, Hilton Armstrong, Spencer Hawes. There's not a good defender on that list.

Paul Westphal:
"Their bigs dominated the paint."
Tom Ziller:
All season, the biggest defense problem for the Kings has been a dearth of resistance in the interior. The Kings allow the league's fourth worst opposing field goal percentage at the rim, allowing opponents to shoot 63.7 percent within five feet. Switching up the starting line-up didn't help: Atlanta shot 75 percent at the rim on its way to a solid victory over Sacramento. The Hawks also happened to win a ton of second chances (11 in 35 opportunities, 31 percent), capitalizing on the Kings' lack of defensive rebounding prowess.

The record player's broke, and ain't no one on this roster fixing it.
I happen to think it's something of an accomplishment by Westphal that Sacramento's 26th rather than 30th in the league in defensive efficiency but there's only somuch any coach could do with this roster.

**Six of those assists coming in the more competitive first half.

Amidst all that sameness, one thing stood out: Mike Woodson made a concerted effort to rest his starters. With the exception of Josh Smith (who missed the last 6:40 of the first quarter after getting kneed in the left quad), the starters rested for at least the first 4:23 of the second quarter, none played more than 8:34 of the third quarter, and Marvin Williams (who ably attacked Sacramento's interior defense himself, scoring 13 points on 9 field goal and 5 free throw attempts) was the only starter to play more than half of the fourth quarter. He played six minutes and one second fo the fourth.

The second unit (mostly) repayed Woodson's trust. Joe Smith, Zaza Pachulia, and Mo Evans were all active and reasonably productive. Jeff Teague and Mario West were both active and even Randolph Morris worked effectively against Sacramento's post defense in his late cameo.

West again got off to a terrible start defensively, giving up Tyreke Evans layups* on the first two possessions he played, fouling Jon Brockman on a breakaway dunk** and committing two more fouls in his first 153 seconds on the court. From that point on, though, he did a decent job making it difficult for Sacramento to get Evans the ball. Is this perhaps a strategy to force Woodson into giving him extended run?

*That West couldn't guard Evans was neither a surprise nor unique among Hawks players.

**Which, had Brockman made the free throw, would rather have compounded the team's embarrassment at letting Jon Brockman score on a breakway dunk.

Unable to get Evans the ball whenever and wherever he wanted it, Spencer Hawes (for some reason) took it upon himself to be the focal point of Sacramento's offense. That Paul Westphal neither called a timeout nor removed Hawes from the game to prevent this from happening was the largest factor in turning a four point Hawks lead with 2:26 left in the third quarter into thirteen point lead at the end of the quarter.

Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom:
[W]hen I was watching this game a certain play seemed to stand out to me and sum the entire contest.

Spencer Hawes drove up the right side of the floor and endured a bit of contact and some ball swiping. Hawes lost the ball or was stripped of the ball or lost the ball while he was stripped and instead of fighting for the ball, he just looked to the ref for a foul call. While he was silently protesting the non-call, Mo Evans took the ball the other way, flew up the court and flushed it home.

Why was this play a summary of the game for the Kings? Well, they were aggressive but couldn’t quite execute the way they needed to...
Michael Cunningham:
So the Hawks had a video session Tuesday in which Woody calls out his vets for not leading the effort on D. J.J. agrees and says the perimeter guys in particular need to pick it up.
A lovely sentiment, the practical implications of which are best ignored.

I don't understand 1) Why more people don't attend mid-week games. 2) Why people can't get to games by tip-off. 3) Why this is considered a valid factor for some of the (completely unsurprising) mediocre defensive performances from the Hawks. Yes, it would help the team if they had a raucous home crowd behind them 41 times a year but it can hardly be a surprise to them when they don't.

Mike Woodson:
"We can't do anything about the fans not showing up. The bottom line is we still have to play the game, and we've got to be professional about how you approach the game when you step out on the court. You've got to generate your own energy."
I'm actually quite interested in why attendance remains low but lack any coherent or constructive analysis. If anyone has a useful theory to explain any part of the reluctance to watch a good basketball team in person, please pass it along.



JMar said...

1) Why more people don't attend mid-week games. 2) Why people can't get to games by tip-off.

For me, questions 1 and 2 go hand-in-hand. I've been willing to pass up mid-week Hawks tickets because listening to Nique on tv is less aggravating than sitting in the traffic to get to games even remotely on time. I live in the suburbs (Roswell) and have a dog that prevents me from going straight from the office to the games. But even if I leave my home at 6:00, and even though I'm going in the opposite direction as traffic, I'm lucky to get there midway through the first quarter.

A few years ago the Braves changed start times from 7:05 to 7:35, and it made all the difference in the world. Then they changed it back, and question why fans aren't at the ballpark for the start of the games. Atlanta traffic is an easy scapegoat, but usually the correct one. Have the Hawks start at 7:30 (like they often do on Fridays), and I'm there twice as often.

Peachtree Hoops said...

not sure Josh Smith deserved a second jab for his posterization by Jeff Green.

1. he overplayed a bit making it not a complete indictment on lateral quickness.
2. not only was there no help d. there was no obstacle. it was a layup line. most athletic power fowards are going to at a minimum get to the line there....against anyone.
3. Josh has gotten better at 1 on 1 defense even if that means better is only average or slightly above.

Jason Walker said...

I wasn't all that worried about Evans catching the ball as long as the Hawks continued to dare him to take the outside shot, which he clearly has to get lucky to hit.

It was the matador defense that West provided after Evans caught the ball that concerned me. And Nique laps it up on the telecast. If it hadn't been for Evans and Crawford hitting long shots the last couple of possessions Flubber was in there, he would have pulled a negative easily. Blech!

Jason Walker said...

Sean Deveney seems to be an okay guy when he has been at Hawks games, but his comment on Smoove's man-on defense is a common by-product of covering the entire league instead of focusing on one team.

If he watched this team three, four games in a row, he would look back at that sentence and wince.

Bret LaGree said...

That wasn't meant to be a dig at Josh as much the inaccuracy/willful ignorance of a professional writer. It's not like Josh Smith's defensive attributes (both extraordinarily useful and less so) are new nor should they in any way be difficult to discern by anyone who has watched him play.

M said...

Attendance issue:

I live in Buckhead area so it only takes me 20 min (with traffic) to get to arena..But for all the other folks, 7pm is a hard start time to make.. 7:30 seems a lot more reasonable. If you live in the suburbs (like lots of ppl do), and you get off work btwn 5:30-6, there is no way in hell you're gonna be in your seat with beer in hand at 7pm. I NEVER pass up tickets, but I see all the tickets in Club level (sec 103, 104, 105-all the prime sections) with many empty seats. Even in the first 10 rows or so, which are sold out for the year. So this tells me that corporate folks are getting their tickets to a mid week non marquee game, and they are just saying "F it" and not going to game or making an effort to give them away.

Another factor that I have heard of (besides economy), is the racial issue. I hate to bring this up, but I have heard this mentioned a few times because I am known amongst my friends as "the one who goes to all the hawks games". I have heard whispers that the Hawks games are "too hip hop" (obviously a racial connotation) for Johnny Suburbs and his children. I don't agree with this and I feel the Hawks and their Operations team do a great job with in game entertainment.

Natural Neutral said...

The real reason people aren't showing up:

The Hawks lost twice to the lowly Knicks at home.

Why go to a game when your team is inconsistent and may lost to the terrible incoming team? If you go to the Thunder game, for example, you have high expectations that the Hawks (the better team) will win. If they do, that's fine, but no big deal. If they don't (which there is a good chance of), then it's absolutely terrible.

I'd rather show up for the Celtics or Jazz or someone where if we win it's fantastic and if it's close and we lose I'm not too disappointed.

If we were confident the Hawks will take care of business at home, we would show up more for the crap teams.

Unknown said...

Re: Attendance

My apologies in advance for the length of the post. This is an issue I get a little prickly about since I grew up in Atlanta and have always been an Atlanta fan (and thus am constantly hassled about our teams’ attendance). But, as I said (and rbpub also noted) on P'tree Hoops a few weeks ago, I think there are several things that need to be considered with attendance.

1) As of December, the Hawks actually had the highest increase in overall net gate receipts this season (i.e. the true attendance numbers). So, while everyone (John Hollinger) complains about attendance, I think people miss our huge attendance improvement (best in the league) and forget how many we lost over the dismal 2000s. People are coming back to the Hawks and buying in…maybe not with 41 sell-outs…but they’re coming back.

Unfortunately, as you all know, we lost a lot of fans. Without a major star or miraculous 1991 Braves type of turnaround, the entire city isn't just going to run back to the Hawks because they hear they're "very good but not great". It takes time to rebuild our fan base and convince everyone else of that we're very good (for example, I remember it took me until mid-December to convince a casual Hawks fan/co-worker that the Hawks were legit). As a result, I think Hawks fans (unlike Cs, Cavs, Lakers, and Magic fans) are a little more sensitive to bad losses (i.e. the Knicks) because a decade of poor teams (and broken promises) has led to somewhat deserved skepticism of the organization.

Finally, there's the "very good but not great" factor to be considered. All season, we have been told that there is no way the Hawks can win a championship (I disagree). As a fan thinking about coming back to the Hawks, where's the excitement in a team that allegedly has no chance of advancing to the Finals? Essentially, the Hawks are a victim of their own progressive development (people expect them to be good and get mad when they're not, but know their not good enough to be worth getting “championship”-excited about). This team is basically the Braves of the 2000s (made for the division title but not World Series material) without the benefit of a decade of winning or a miraculous season.

My point: Things are getting better and more people are coming to games. Give it time, and if this team makes it to the Conf. Finals or even the Finals, then I expect attendance to be much more consistent. Moreover, this is a tough sports town…the Hawks are going to have to show consistent winning (just as they showed consistent losing) to convince fans that they’re worth supporting (nobody likes a loser!).

[Sorry, I know the question was about mid-week game attendance, but I think that issue is tied to the overall “attendance "issue]

2) Why don't people get to games by tip-off?

I agree with the 7 PM time being the primary issue. I work for a large firm with corporate seats, and I often get offered tickets by the firm or by friends at other firms the day of a game. Absent a miracle, it's near impossible for us to leave work, change, and get to the arena by 7 PM (and I live 10 minutes from the office and can take MARTA). I can’t imagine it’s any easier for the suburban people or even Buckhead people to get to games on time. Between traffic (which now ends later) and people generally working later nowadays, 7 PM is just a tough time to make (I rarely can make dinner dates by 7 PM...much less a basketball game).

CoCo said...

You've all given some very valid reasons for attendance issues. Here's another one or two. A lot of the Hawks mid-week games are against mediocre-bad teams. Why should one spend their expendable income to see the likes of the Kings and Nets and Raptors and etc? The fact is, going to Hawks games can be costly. They do have great ticket deals most nights, but let's assume you'd rather watch from the lower to mid level as opposed to the upper lever, it can get expensive. If you're going to spend that kind of money for one night, you should at least be treated to an All Star or a game that is some sort of barometer for how good your team really is. I didn't learn anything new about the Hawks after that game against the Kings. Imagine what that would be like for the casual fan who has no clue who Tyreke Evans is. Basically, you're better off waiting for one of the marquee games. Also, there's a lot of stuff to do in Atlanta. That cannot be overlooked or understated. This isn't Utah. There are so many events and things that go on in this city that the Hawks aren't the first choice. Especially when you consider some of these other events are more economically friendly. It would be great if the fans came out in droves to see the bottom feeders, but it's not going to happen. It's unfortunate if for no other reason than the fact that the Hawks feed off their crowd possibly more than any other team in the league.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Biggest attendance reason: Why show up for games against bad teams when even the Hawks themselves don't show up against bad teams?

The Hawks won't draw crowds until they consistently demolish bad teams and play at a high level against elite teams. Nobody wants to pay $40 to see the Hawks brick long 2's all day when its one of "those" games, and against terrible teams.