Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hawks 98 Timberwolves 92


Hoopdata Boxscore



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MINN 93.3
49.4 17.7
17.1 16.1
ATL 93.3 1.051 43.2

Congratulations, you're good enough to barely a beat (at home) a terrible team that's not playing particularly well even by their own standards. Other than Jeff Teague and Mo Evans I don't think there's a Hawk player exempt from criticism.

Josh Smith: 27, 10 , and 5 are difficult numbers with which to find fault but six of those points came because he made three of three unnecessary long jump shots and, had he made a more statistically probable one or none of those attempts, the game's result might have been different. Also, Smith's defense against Ryan Hollins was shockingly poor. Hollins scored with ease. Ryan Hollins. Seriously.

Al Horford: Horford provided the flip side to Smith's defensive struggles by demonstrating an inability to score when guarded by Al Jefferson, needing 14 shots to score just 11 points. This negated, to some degree, Horford's good work on the glass (13 rebounds, 2 offensive) and the five assists he earned.

Joe Johnson: Johnson made it three-for-three among Atlanta's best players in providing some good, some bad, but not enough to convince. He had a perfectly acceptable game prior to some serious, painful passivity on several fourth quarter possessions. When tallying up results at the end of the season as to which portion of blame for the team's fourth quarter offensive struggles goes to the system/coach and which portion goes to the players, last night's game goes largely on the player side of the ledger, sub-category Joe Johnson. He called off ball-screens more than once to size up the multiple defenders Minnesota had set (and I mean set) to defend him before dribbling himself into position to take a difficult shot or contribute mightily to a shot clock violation.

Jamal Crawford: He's near useless when he's not making shots and he didn't make any shots last night. Committed more turnovers (2) than he scored points (1) useless. Finished the game +2 only because he had the privilege of being on the court while Jeff Teague ran things in the first half. Still, Crawford played over 28 minutes. More on that below.

Mike Bibby: Bibby played, by his current standard, three good quarters of basketball. (Plus, it tickled me that Bibby, who's been hidden from guarding both Chris Duhon and Ronnie Price this season, was matched up against Jonny Flynn all night.) He was useless (or, useful, if you look at it from the perspective of helping to slow the game down to a crawl which, evidence suggests, is what this team may want to do late in games) in the fourth quarter last night playing 10 minutes and 10 seconds, missing his only field goal attempt and turning the ball over twice. Mike Bibby's employed to make jump shots and not turn the ball over. If he's failing in both areas why does remain in the game?

Marvin Williams: If I may partially answer my own question: 4 points, 0-4 from the field, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers in 20:40.

Zaza Pachulia and Joe Smith: Had these two taken advantage of the scoring opportunities presented them at a better rate than 1-5 at the rim (to be fair, 4-4 from the free throw line as well) some of the above might not have had the opportunity to occur. To his credit, Pachulia made an impact on the glass (7 rebounds, 3 offensive in just 10:38). Joe Smith, when he wasn't missing layups, was sucking up to the head coach by taking long two-point jumpers. I won't insult your intelligence by pretending it matters he didn't make them.

Mike Woodson: Coach, the next time you wonder why you get criticism for how you use your bench, watch the tape of this game again. No one doubts your ability to construct a gameplan. It's the apparent lack of ability to adjust that gameplan based on the reality game events that frustrates. Clearly, you began the night with the intention of playing Pachulia and Joe Smith for an extended stint in the first half. While they're failing to convert scoring opportunities Jeff Teague (playing his best basketball of the season in the first half) hands them and getting beat down the court by Kevin Love in transition, Mo Evans is cleaning up their misses with a tip-in and making an open three. But the plan's to give the big guys more run so Evans (Hawks +9 since he entered the game) and Teague (Hawks +8 since he entered the game) rather than Smith and Pachulia go back to the bench just 3 minutes and 40 seconds in to the second quarter.

Similarly, during Minnesota's 12-1 run at the end of the third/start of the fourth quarter, Jamal Crawford turns the ball over twice (and looked to be at fault for the turnover credited to Zaza Pachulia to open the fourth quarter) and misses a three-pointer. Joe Smith misses two field goal attempts and one of two free throws. Mike Woodson's response? To remove Pachulia and Teague for Horford and Bibby. Crawford would go on to miss three more shots before being removed, with 2:05 left in the game, in favor of Marvin Williams.

Finally, with 20.8 seconds left, Minnesota ball, down 90-97, Mike Woodson removes Mike Bibby because Mike Bibby can't guard anyone. Fair play. Mike Woodson replaces Bibby with Mario West. Mario West, who hasn't played all night, is put in the game to guard Jonny Flynn. Mario West, rather than, say, Jeff Teague, who has played well and, more specifically relevant, has defended Jonny Flynn well earlier in the game.

These are not complicated concepts: Play your best players the most, keep the reserves who are playing well on the floor, and take the reserves who are killing you off the floor, put your future point guard in the game before your mascot.

Still, I'd rather have Mike Woodson, who has mostly mastered the first of those concepts, than Kurt Rambis who appears to be incapable even of identifying* which are his best players.

*HINT: Kevin Love and Al Jefferson and Ramon Sessions, not Ryan Hollins and Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington.

Jamal Crawford:
"It’s a good win. The first game at home after a long trip is usually a tough one."
Joe Johnson:
"We were OK. It was nothing to really write home about."
The Human Highlight Blog:
Among power forwards who play 25+ minutes per game, [Josh] Smith is first in assists and weighted assists (which gives bonus for assists leading to a three). He is also 4th among power forwards in assist to turnover ratio, with 1.84, which is by far his best in his career.


Jason Walker said...

Caution: Salty!

Jason Walker said...


You missed the fury in which Woody yanked Marvin Williams for the last 20 seconds of the first half and put in...Jamal Crawford. Result: Damien Wilkins rose up in front of the landlocked Crawford, resulting in a three.

CoCo said...

Bret you are hilarious. That is all. Oh, wait, you should probably venture over to peachtreehoops. He has bench questions and you may have answers.

Bret LaGree said...


I'll admit that poor defense from Jamal Crawford may be escaping my notice at this point in the vast sea of normalcy. I'll make an effort to adjust my perceptions.

Jason Walker said...

Ha! No, you're right about the result being that of normalcy.

Maybe it's me that should adjust my perceptions in that I was surprised that Woodson would put Crawford in with 20 seconds left, for Marvin Williams, on a defensive possession.

I should reserve surprise for something like another team signing Mario West when he is a free agent versus a nonsensical substitution such as that was.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least we're at the point as a franchise where a 6 point win over an NBA team yields several pages of criticism instead of shrugs or praise...