Sunday, March 07, 2010

Heat 100 Hawks 94




Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 83.9
45.5 29.5
28.9 15.5
MIA 83.9 1.192 49.4

With Joe Johnson missing his final ten field goal attempts and the guards failing to keep anyone in front of them defensively, the Hawks needed Josh Smith and Al Horford to bail them out late but they couldn't do it two nights in a row. They had opportunities offensively, both initially and after the six offensive rebounds the pair combined for in the fourth quarter, but those opportunities more often resulted in turnovers than made shots. Smith was 1-6 from the floor with three turnovers in the final quarter; Horford made his lone field goal attempt and committed a turnover himself.

Thanks to Miami choosing to go small and spread the floor in Jermaine O'Neal's absence, Smith and Horford couldn't be enough places at once to cover for their teammates. Smith couldn't help on dribble penetration and close out on Michael Beasley. Horford couldn't challenge shots and get good position on the defensive glass.

Jamal Crawford, making shots both good and improbable, kept the Hawks in the game by scoring 15 of the team's final 24 points. That those 24 points were scored over the final 17:35 of the game illustrates the underlying difficulty of his mostly spectacular effort succeeding. To illustrate it fully one would also have to mention Crawford's partner in the backcourt for most (10-and-a-half minutes) of the fourth quarter, Mike Bibby, and his no points, no shots, no rebounds, no assists, no defense performance. A personal foul saved him from recording a trillion for the quarter and his refusal to participate in the turnover party his teammates were throwing is the closest one can come to saying something nice.

As to why neither Marvin Williams nor Mo Evans were called upon to provide defensive resistance or something tangible offensively while Bibby struggled so mightily one can't fathom the reasons.

Mike Woodson:
"I can’t fault the effort. The effort was great. We got the tempo the way we wanted it. But then their zone [defense] slowed us down."
At some point, the other team playing zone defense in the fourth quarter will cease to surprise an unprepared Hawks team, right?

Soaring Down South:
It is unfortunate that these Atlanta Hawks can’t realize on a nightly basis what works for them and what doesn’t. It is even more unfortunate that they don’t have a coaching staff that can point these things out to them and then require that they do the things that make them successful.
Peachtree Hoops:
The quarter by quarter field goal percentage tonight told the story from shooting almost 60% in the first to under 30 in the fourth. Naturally, opposing defenses are going to clamp down in crunch time, but as simplistic and obvious as Mike Woodson's offense is, it actually works. It really does. With ball movement and unselfishness, the Hawks get easy shots and are good enough to make easy buckets. Somehow Woody does not have the control or the faith to make the team play that way for four quarter.
The Human Highlight Blog uses the team's fourth quarter shot chart as an illustration of this theme.

It's imperative the Hawks create and convert quality shot opportunities because this is not nor will it become a good defensive team. They're 13th in defensive efficiency and rank 15th or worse in three of the four defensive factors. They don't force a lot of turnovers, they don't force a lot of misses, and they don't rebound many of the misses they do force. Whatever success they have will come from outscoring their opposition, something at which they've shown themselves perfectly capable when they play inside-out, occasionally capable when relying on their good perimeter shooters, and thoroughly incapable if the other team plays zone in the fourth quarter.

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