|Team||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
|DALL||93.2 ||1.192 ||56||8.7 ||31.6||14 |
|ATL||93.2||1.106||44.7 ||18.9 ||28.3 ||7.5|
If you want to know why the Hawks, a team almost guaranteed home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, have the legitimacy of their chances to do much more than show up and compete in the second-round questioned* more than other teams in similar circumstances, compare and contrast them with the Dallas Mavericks in overtime.
*As well as why it's difficult to formulate a convincing counter-argument.
The Mavericks relentlessly attacked Atlanta's weakest link, Mike Bibby, throughout the extra period. With Bibby matched up against Jose Juan Barea they forced Bibby to defend the pick-and-roll. Bibby's two choices: to try and cut off the corner and deny Berea's dribble penetration, or, switch onto Dirk Nowitzki. The former is close to impossible for Bibby. The latter is far from ideal. With Bibby matched up against Jason Kidd, the Mavericks isolated Kidd on the right side (with Nowitzki shaded to the ball side beyond the top of the key), let him back Bibby down, and encouraged the only other Atlanta defender nearby (Josh Smith) to provide help defense. Once Smith helped off of Nowitzki, Kidd made a simple pass and Nowitzki, with no Atlanta defender in a position from which to rotate in time, made an open three. Despite this obvious, purposeful, and relentless attack against a poor defender, Mike Woodson left Bibby in the game until Dallas had the ball with the Hawks were down five with less than a minute left.
The Hawks, despite showing some intermittent understanding of and ability to break down the Dallas zone (a modified 2-3 that allowed Kidd, on the right side of the baseline, some freedom to wreak havoc), had no clear plan of attack. That may be giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they had a plan of attack it contained two parts: 1) Have Joe Johnson back down Barea (one of the two guys at the top of the Dallas zone) into the heart of the zone before A) taking a contested shot or B) passing out of traffic to a wide-open (natch) Josh Smith 20-feet from the basket for Smith to miss (natch, again) a jump shot just before the shot clock expires; 2) Have Johnson or Jamal Crawford keep the ball outside the three-point line until a half-chance for a three-point attempt presents itself.
The first part accounted for two empty possessions (plus Josh Smith's put-back that prevented the overtime shutout). The second part accounted for three empty possessions. The Hawks had ten overtime possessions in total. It's an extra shame that the offense imploded as it hummed so efficiently for most of the game* by the virtue of ball movement. The Hawks earned assists on 32 of their 38 made field goals. Five Hawks (Johnson, Smith, Al Horford, Bibby, and Crawford) tallied at least four assists. Many if not most of their free throw attempts were the result of good player and ball movement. Yet, still, what they're collectively best at is far from constant. There remains some disconnect in the understanding of how best practices lead to good results.
*Admittedly barring that 9:51 stretch in the first half where the Hawks didn't make a field goal though that stretch did include approximately as many missed open shots as did Dallas's 15-point third quarter.
On to the game's other talking point: Mike Woodson's fourth quarter technical. I've been critical of both the timing of and propensity for the head coach's technicals this season. This time, he got jobbed. Railroaded, even. The replays showed that Woodson had clearly gotten back* out of bounds before Kidd (himself with at least one foot out of bounds) made glancing contact with his outstretched left arm. The replays, though, only confirmed what was an obviously terrible call when witnessed live. Jason Kidd only came into contact with Mike Woodson because he, Kidd, veered suddenly to the left when approaching the Hawks' bench. Jason Kidd only came into contact with Mike Woodson because Kidd purposely dribbled the ball out of bounds.
*Oh, that one of Woodson's veteran guards had feet that quick.
It looked weird. It didn't look like a basketball play. It wasn't a basketball play. It was an attempt to con the refs and the refs fell for it. They waived the element of risk inherent in purposely dribbling the ball out of bounds in the pursuit of one point. If Kidd draws (or even creates) contact with a coach who's on the court, fair play to him. He didn't manage that but his failure didn't matter on a night where, otherwise, Kidd rarely failed.
It's a credit to Woodson (and his team) that he (and they) did not lose his (their) cool given the circumstances and the unjust penalty delivered upon him. It will be a discredit to every copycat who attempts to mimic this nationally televised bit of gamesmanship.
"The coach is not supposed to be on the floor. You see that a lot in games. The NBA has so many rules, and there is a coaching box, and some of the coaches do stretch that box. For me, it's just a reaction. Make something happen. It was a big play for us."Mike Woodson:
"He made a heck of a play. Jason Kidd is an All-Star, a Hall of Fame guard, and he’s had a hell of a career. He did what he had to do. I’ve got to take the hit on that. I shouldn’t have been on the floor."Rick Carlisle:
"This is one for the ages. I don’t think there’s ever been a smarter player in this league than Jason Kidd."Joe Johnson:
"It was a big deal. He just blatantly ran into our coach. I’ve never seen that.Please don't.
Coaches are always on the floor, but nobody tries to run into them. I might have to try and do that."
The Human Highlight Blog:
Some call this veteran or savvy. We call it a "jerk" move.The Vent:
Woodson was off the court, Kidd initiated contact, with a forearm shiver no less. It's not basketball, yet there it was.
Still, it had nothing to do with Kidd killing the Hawks with threes (3 of them in that run) or leading the charge of standing around in a zone while the Hawks continued to try to shoot over it with no success over and over again. And it certainly didn't take away from the statistically incredible night Kidd had. Bravo.
"They T'd Woody up. Okay fine, what's done is done. My question is simply this, WHY IN THE HELL WOULD MIKE WOODSON AGREE WITH THEM?I get in less trouble for quoting the joke I lack the balls to make myself, don't I?
He should not be on record saying Kidd made a "heck of a play" and all the other nonsense he spewed after the game. He should be screaming at the top of his lungs that he made it off the court before Kidd came over and shoved him. Why is he going the opposite way? Whose side is he on? I've seen the replay, and it's not like there was overwhelming evidence against that theory. I'm blown away that he is going along with this Jason Kidd is a genius bullshit. Seriously, even if it turns out that there's indisputable evidence that you didn't make it off in time, you don't go into the post game press conference tipping your hat to him. You bitch and moan and act like Kidd just assaulted you like you were his wife. (yes, that was a cheap shot, but I'm mad)"
John Hollinger deems the play "unusually clever." I wonder if a look at the replay would change the good professor's mind.
Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk:
Jason Kidd is a clever a%($hole.As for the bulk of the game...
At least his play was, drawing a technical on Atlanta coach Mike Woodson. Smart play. Good strategy. Got a technical free throw (made by Dirk), a point that helped send the game to overtime where his team went on to win.
Still an a*#$hole move.
"It kind of changed the game, but that’s not what lost the game for us. They went zone, and we couldn’t get no continuity on offense.We?
We just played one-on-one against the zone"
"I think we settled too much in the zone instead of attacking. It really wasn’t an aggressive zone. They were just letting us shoot jump shots."These would be perfectly fine and reasonable quotes were this the first time the Hawks had self-inflicted such a fate but as the good-natured Michael Cunningham trenchantly points out:
With the notable exception of the Jazz game, show some resistance against the Hawks late in games and they will stop moving the ball to get better shots.Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information: The Hawks were 1-9 from the field in the game (0-4 in the fourth quarter and overtime) against Dallas's zone.
A really good team doesn’t lose games like this, and that’s what the Hawks aspire to become and, for tantalizing stretches, seem to be. But how do you lose on a night when a technical foul against your coach for brushing the opposing point guard is the difference between winning in regulation and walking off with various manifestations of egg — scrambled, poached, everything except sunny-side-up — on your face.Again, Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk:
Personally, I give this win to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. For the fourth quarter, down 15 with 8 minutes to go, he broke out the zone defense, and the Hawks turned into the UCLA Bruins. This year's UCLA Bruins. They seemed confused and couldn't hit the outside shot.