Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heat 94 Hawks 76


Hoopdata Boxscore



Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MIA 81.5
53.7 8.6
36.1 14.7
ATL 81.5 0.932 40.3

The four most common lineups* which include Jamal Crawford this season average 125.7 points per 100 possessions over a sample** of 1165 offensive possessions. While I believe that Jamal Crawford's teammates have provided him with a work environment that maximizes the value of his one great basketball skill and minimizes his weaknesses, Crawford's relationship with his teammates is symbiotic. Their skill sets are broader than Crawford's but putting in the ball in the basket will always be the most important skill one can possess and Crawford possesses that skill to a greater degree than all but one of his teammates.

*These are the second through fifth most common lineups for the team this season.

**By comparison, the starting lineup, Atlanta's most common five-man unit, has played together for 1421 offensive possessions through last night's game. (Source: BasketballValue)

The Hawks missed Crawford last night. They missed him badly. His absence may have caused Mike Bibby to take 10 jump shots, of which he made just 3 and only 1 of those makes a three-pointer, but Crawford's absence did not force Josh Smith to waste 6 of his 14 field goal attempts on jump shots. Nor did it cause the Hawks, as a team, to make less than half of their shots at the rim or just 14 of 33 shots they attempted inside of 10 feet. Absent Crawford, the remaining Hawks took some bad shots. They also missed some shots they normally make.

Defensively, the Hawks executed the gameplan* that has served them well so often in the past against Dwyane Wade and the Heat. 46 of Miami's 81 field goal attempts came at least 16 feet away from the basket. Eight long jumpers from Jermaine O'Neal; eight from Wade; five from Rafer Alston; four from Udonis Haslem; three from Beasley; eleven long jumpers from Daequan Cook. That's a shot chart the Hawks would take every night against Miami. Credit the Heat, Cook especially for making 6 of his 11 jumpers, including 3 of 5 three-pointers, remember that no matter how sound a plan one team formulates there's an opposing team working equally hard toward their own interest, factor in the element of randomness inherent in the results of 46 long jump shots, avoid succumbing to a results-based analysis of the defensive performance, and move on.

*At least until the first shot went up.

The Hawks also missed Zaza Pachulia badly, as anyone who watched Jason Collins' participation last night would attest. There's a reason that Collins has only looked useful this season for one stint against Shaquille O'Neal. Jason Collins can't move. Witness the three second violation he committed 53 seconds into his disastrous 3 minute and 51 second appearance in the second quarter. Or, witness the spectator's role* he assumed once a shot attempt went up. As a team, the Hawks controlled just two of seven possible rebounds (offensive and defensive) while Collins was on the floor. Also, Jason Collins can't stop should he unexpectably become mobile. Witness his demolition of poor Dorell Wright while Udonis Haslem dunked in traffic which resulted in the rare joint three-point play.

*It was akin to having a taller, rounder Jamal Crawford on the floor.

The 11-1 run Miami enjoyed at the start of the second quarter changed the tenor of the game. Mike Woodson took a gamble in playing a weakened second unit largely as a unit (Teague, Evans, Joe Smith, and Collins with first Joe Johnson, then Marvin Williams). It didn't pay off.

Woodson didn't take a gamble in the 12-point fourth quarter. Instead, he watched his starters fail to make enough shots to keep pace with a Heat team playing (mostly) without Dwyane Wade. It was a balanced effort of futility: Joe Johnson went 3-7 in the final quarter (and failed to get to the free throw line for the third consecutive game, a stretch encompassing 111 minutes and 50 field goal attempts), Al Horford went 2-4 from the floor with a turnover, Josh Smith missed both his field goal attempts and made just one of two free throws, Marvin Williams and Mike Bibby both went 0-3 from the field. By the time Wade returned with just five minutes left in the game, the Hawks were down eight and had scored nine of the twelve points they'd muster in the final quarter. Woodson put the best players available on the floor and they failed to deliver.

Mike Woodson:
"Just an awful fourth quarter. We either ran out of juice or didn’t have the energy to get through it. They (the Heat) were laboring a little bit in the fourth quarter too but they found some energy somehow and got it done."
Josh Smith:
"It’s kind of frustrating when you don’t even give yourself a chance to win from the beginning."
Don't attempt six jump shots and everybody--players, coaches, and fans alike--will experience less frustration.

Anonymous quote reported by Michael Cunningham:
After hearing a teammate talk about his plans for the break, one Hawks player said to another teammate: “It was like guys were already on vacation.” His teammate agreed.
Dollars to donuts one of the teammates in that conversation was Mo Evans*.

*Mo Evans sidebar: I found Ira Winderman's debut piece at Pro Basketball Talk largely off base (outside of the interesting opening anecdote regarding the Rockets electing Joey Dorsey their union rep). Were I an NBA player at either extreme of the pay scale, I'd be perfectly content with guys like Derek Fisher, Adonal Foyle, and Mo Evans representing my interests in negotiations with the league. Both because they're veterans who have presumably accrued experience and wisdom as they've aged and because their continued employment in the league is predicated on understanding how systems work. There's obviously a great difference between the particulars of how a basketball team functions and how labor negotiations function but I don't understand the assumption that players who are so talented that entire franchises bend to their will would be more valuable in a negotiation that those who have learned to make themselves a part of a successful whole.

Mike Woodson on Jamal Crawford's sore shoulder:
"He didn't want to chance it and I've got to respect that and move on."
A commendable attitude and one which Woodson should consider extending to his interactions with NBA referees. Woodson earned his league-leading (for a coach) ninth technical foul last night and the vast majority of those have come arguing calls that were clearly not missed by the referees.

Al Horford:
"I probably should have done a better job of trying to step up and do more things. When guys go down guys have to step up."
Dwyane Wade on Daequan Cook (and Mike Bibby):
"Tonight, with Mike Bibby guarding him, who's kind of a helper, a roamer, he's a quick shooter. So we got him the ball at the right time, he was able to get into his rhythm and really became big for us."
Mark Bradley:
No, Jamal Crawford didn’t play — he woke up with a sore shoulder — and neither did Zaza Pachulia. But the Hawks lost by 18 points on their floor to an indifferent opponent. There’s no excuse for that no matter how many subs you’re missing. There’s no excuse for letting Miami reserve Daequan Cook score as many points in 65 seconds as your entire bench did in the game.


Jerry Hinnen said...

I realize Woodson didn't have many options last night, but if Mike Bibby can't hit wide-open three-pointers--and he must have missed 3 or 4, with his one make a fortuitous bounce up off the rim and straight down through the net--then why the hell is he on the floor? He's now 1-of-10 from 3 his past two games, and I'd wager 7 or 8 of those were wide-slap-open looks.

Hoping the Hawks can find a replacement for him this season is a pipe dream, but going forward I gotta think there are PGs out there who can bring what Bibby brings to the table--38 percent 3-point shooting, an ability to facilitate the offense and get out of the way, traffic-cone defense--for an awful lot less money.

weemsildinho said...

great recap, Bret. As badly as the Hawks played last night, I did get the feeling that there was some randomness involved as well. The Hawks turned it over too much and couldn't keep the Heat off the offensive boards. However, watching the game, it sure seemed like the Hawks were forcing a lot of long twos, with the Heat just making them. And, the Heat took 30 long twos in the game, and a 29% shooter (Cook, and thats from the field, not 3 pt) coming into the game took 12 shots in 21 minutes. Seems like a recipe for success, until that shooter makes 7 of 12 and the Heat drain 18 of 30 of those shots. That was a bit unlucky, as was guys not finishing close range shots that they normally do, which you mentioned in the recap too. Hate that we have to wait a week for the next game.