Sunday, January 31, 2010

Magic 104 Hawks 86


Hoopdata Boxscore



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 88.2
43.8 18.5
11.9 11.3
ORL 88.2 1.18 59

The Hawks are -67 in three games against Orlando this year. They're +293 in 43 games against the rest of the league. Orlando's a good team. They're also a terrible matchup for the Hawks. Last night's loss drove that home. The Hawks weren't out-shot from beyond the three-point line nor were they killed on the offensive glass and still they couldn't hang with Orlando for 48 minutes. Two of the three things that doomed the Hawks in their first two games against Orlando were, if not fixed, neutralized for a night. That suggests that the fundamental problem the Hawks face against the Magic is making shots.

Atlanta has shot 42.9, 42.3, and 43.8 eFG% in the three games against Orlando and there simply aren't enough extra possessions to be gained by not turning the ball over or grabbing offensive rebounds (especially because Orlando does a great job of negating the latter) to overcome that unless you're an elite defensive team and the Hawks are not.

That the essential problem for the Hawks against Orlando in the first two games was getting the ball in the basket, it's curious that the most significant change Mike Woodson made in the third game was to get Jason Collins and Mario West in the game as soon as possible at the expense of Zaza Pachulia and Jeff Teague, especially considering the contributions Pachulia and Teague made the night before to help defeat Boston. I don't believe that difference between Pachulia/Teague and Collins/West is so great as to have changed the outcome of last night's game but there's no evidence Collins and West made a positive difference.

The decision was extra disappointing coming on the heels of a couple of games where Woodson demonstrated his evolution as a tactical coach. In his willingness to let Al Horford pick up his third foul in the first half in San Antonio and in his willingness to leave Mike Bibby on the bench for almost the entire second half, Woodson showed an ability to adjust to the game situation we didn't see two or three seasons ago. Last night's rotation shake-up may have been a similar attempt at growth, misguided though it was.

In the end, though, if Dwight Howard plays as well as he did last night (31 points on 16 shots, 19 rebounds, 3 blocks, and most of the credit for the Hawks shooting 15-35 inside of 10 feet) while Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson (33 points on 21 shots in 48 minutes) combine to make the stretch four appear to be the antidote to Josh Smith's defensive aptitude, there's no amount of coaching wizardry that's going to change the outcome when the Hawks face the Magic.

Joe Johnson:
"This game is all about matchups, and I think we match up well with everyone but them. They pretty much have their way with us."
Al Horford:
"They just have our number right now. We have to figure them out. We have to do a better job inside in the post, starting with me."
Josh Smith, who has attempted seven jump shots in the last two games, had a different explanation for the 18-point loss:
"It’s tough to beat a great team like Orlando when you can’t get to the line. We were aggressive like they were aggressive."
Orlando attempted seven more free throws in the game. Beyond inserting Jason Collins in the first quarter with the express purpose of having him foul Dwight Howard, Orlando got four free throws courtesy of Josh Smith fouling Jameer Nelson at half-court with 1.9 seconds left in the first half and Mike Woodson getting a technical at halftime.

Peachtree Hoops:
At the end of the first quarter, Hawks assistant Jim Todd was interviewed and said, "Well, we are getting fouled, driving the ball and trying to get to the line, and we are not getting calls." That is fine, maybe true, but Orlando is getting open shots or huge advantages that require fouling. Most of the time, the Hawks were beat so bad they did not leave the call up to the refs. Screw driving to get fouled. Atlanta has advantages. Take advantage. Spread the floor and pick and roll with Horford. Create ball movement. All these Isolation drives or shots are horrible because Howard is either going to alter the shot or get the rebound.
Mike Woodson:
"We haven't figured [Orlando] out, that's all I can tell you. It's about coming out and having a lot of heart and we didn't do that for 48 minutes."
Rashard Lewis:
"We definitely match up well with them. They don't have anybody that can guard Dwight inside. They were in foul trouble all night; anybody that tried to guard him always had to foul."
At Orlando Pinstriped Post, Ben Q Rock makes good use of the color red to highlight Atlanta's wide-ranging deficiencies last night.


CoCo said...

I would agree that it's a huge problem that the Hawks can't make shots, but the method at which they get to attempt those shots is extremely flawed and the main reason they can't make them. The game plan sucks.

Bronnt said...

The Hawks' lack of offensive design really shows up against Orlando, more-so than it does against the rest of the league. But it's clear that anytime J.J. Reddick is in the game, the man he's guarding needs to be running pick and rolls with Joe Johnson every single play. He needs to get the Mike Bibby treatment-he's the only clearly below-average defender in their rotation.

When Reddick's not on the floor, there's no clear place for the Hawks to attack unless Matt Barnes gets stuck on Josh Smith or Joe Johnson.