Thursday, March 04, 2010

Hawks 112 76ers 93


Hoopdata Boxscore


Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
PHI 95
49.3 25.3
15 19
ATL 95 1.179 54.8

Josh Smith:
"It's kind of hard to get momentum during these types of game."
Perhaps I've allowed myself exposure to too much inane* NCAA Tournament talk in the last week but this game reminded me of a power conference team playing a home game in November against an opponent who came for the guaranteed money. The Hawks couldn't impress anyone by beating the 76ers. The Hawks could only avoid the potential damage of losing to an inferior opponent.

*Not especially more inane than usual this time of year though the quality of teams under discussion is shockingly poor.

So when I say the Hawks weren't impressive it's not a criticism. It's a description of the circumstance in which they found themselves: playing at home against an undermanned team that wasn't that good to begin with and has subsequently thrown in the towel. It's unfair to expect the Hawks, in the second half of a 82-game* schedule to give a relentless effort on a night such as this. They were professional. They did their jobs. They outlasted an inferior team without sacrificing too much of themselves. It's encouraging that Marvin Williams played well and was productive for a second successive game. It's encouraging that Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford shot well. It's a fact of life that quick guards, regardless of the quality and abilities of their teammates on a given night, will trouble the Hawks. But even these events occur in the context of two teams, for reasons thoroughly understandable and probably more wise than not, largely going through the motions.

*With, one hopes, 10 or more playoff games to come after that.

There may be a lot of this from here on out. The Hawks are not playing for their playoff lives. They are probably not playing for a favorable seeding. A quarter of the season's left and we know what the rotation is and what it will be. We know the Hawks will be a significant favorite with home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs and (barring a Celtic resurrection and/or Magic collapse) and significant underdog in the second-round.

Furthermore, their opponents will have wildly varying interests of their own. Nine of the twelve games in the league last night were won by 13 points or more. Eight of the twelve were won by at least 19 points. Team's goals have diverged. Their respective interests in winning games has become asymmetrical.

Mike Woodson:
"We need Marvin to play that way. It takes so much pressure off of everybody when he's scoring and rebounding the ball and defending like he was defending tonight."
Al Horford:
"Everybody goes through struggles. It feels good to see Marvin be Marvin. Hopefully, he keeps this level of intensity up."

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