Saturday, April 17, 2010

Game Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (0-0) @ Atlanta Hawks (0-0)

TIP-OFF: 5:30pm (EDT)

TELEVISION
: ESPN, Fox Sports South, ESPN3

CHAT: Daily Dime Live

GAME NOTES: Hawks/Bucks

ATLANTA INJURY REPORT: None.

MILWAUKEE INJURY REPORT
: Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd are out.

BY THE NUMBERS

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MIL (off)
90.2
1.068
48.3 18.1
26.2 14.4
ATL (def)
88.8 1.083 49.7
28
27.2
15.4

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MIL (def)
90.2
1.048
48.6 34.8
23.6 16.8
ATL (off)
88.8 1.134 50.6
21.3
28.2
13.3

FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY
: Atlanta -8.5, 186 o/u

OTHER PERSPECTIVES: Bucksketball, Brew Hoop

PREVIOUSLY...the Milwaukee Bucks won four of their last six regular season games, all without Andrew Bogut. The wins were @Chicago, @Philadelphia, at home against New Jersey, and, in the 82nd game, @Boston with the Celtics resigned to the fourth-seed and resting four starters.

Their two losses in that stretch came at home against Boston and Atlanta.

The Hawks and Bucks have played three times this season. In the first meeting on February 28th in Atlanta, the Hawks beat the Bucks 106-102 in overtime. From the recap:
Sitting through another 18 point fourth quarter (though at least this time against a good defensive team) makes one wonder. One wonders why Josh Smith doesn't attempt a field goal* in the fourth quarter. One wonders why, during a four minute stretch of the fourth quarter when Milwaukee goes to a four-guard lineup meaning either Carlos Delfino or Jerry Stackhouse is guarding Smith, Smith never once touches the ball in the post.

One wonders if it's because Smith and Horford (and, to a lesser extent, Marvin Williams**) are responsible for rebounding, defense, and both creating and finishing transition opportunities so that Johnson, Bibby, and Crawford can play poor defense and take long jump shots (30 field attempts from beyond 16 feet from the troika in the game) with minimal consequences.

*He does go the line four times and turn the ball over twice.

**Williams made three of his five field goal attempts, his only three-point attempt, grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive), and played the aforementioned good defense to slow Salmons. He also opened the fourth quarter by making a 20-foot jumper but never attempted another shot.
The second meeting was in Milwaukee and the Bucks won 98-95 on March 22nd. From the recap:
Skiles' decision to go small neutered Josh Smith's help defense to a greater degree than Smith was able to take advantage of his size advantage in the post. Maybe that was another reason to leave Delfino isolated on Johnson. Letting the Hawks play through Johnson seriously reduced the chance of Atlanta scoring three points on a possession (as long as Delfino didn't commit a silly, relatively unlikely foul) even if it increased the chance Atlanta would score two points on a possession whereas playing through Josh Smith (matched up against Stackhouse in the post) could create open looks from beyond the arc.
The third and final meeting took place on Monday, again in Milwaukee, and the Hawks won 104-96. From the recap:
Kurt Thomas, playing in Bogut's stead, showed that he can still do three things: defend his man in the post, rebound on the defensive end, and set solid screens. The first ability could cause Atlanta problems if the Hawks insist on trying to post up Al Horford against Thomas. Milwaukee had no need to send a second defender to help Thomas. The Hawks never sent a second offensive player to help Horford, leaving the Atlanta center frustrated. As the game progressed and, presumably, the Hawks noticed how much more effective offensively Zaza Pachulia* was when he drew Thomas further away from the basket, Horford was utilized more often in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop sets and was more successful.
I've re-watched this game, paying particular attention to my concerns about Al Horford posting up Kurt Thomas. I counted seven times Horford posted Thomas up. Milwaukee never sent a second defender. Horford scored six points (two made jump hooks, two made free throws) on those seven plays. Horford also turned the ball over once, missed a jump hook and two fall-away jumpers.

Scott Skiles has been watching game tape, too:
"We've looked at every possession, multiple times. We've got to do a better job on Joe Johnson. He's had his way with us a little bit."
Expect Skiles to try and go small in Bogut's absence:
"If we could play small for a while in a game and get away with it, that would be good."
If the Bucks do go small, Josh Smith must get the ball in the post on essentially every offensive possession. That hasn't been the case in the first three meetings.

Other (previously unmentioned) series previews
Consider this an open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game (but pre-recap) thoughts.

2 comments:

Derek said...

Brett, can you please comment on John Carroll of Scouts Inc., "Josh Smith is an aggressive offensive player. He can stroke the jumper and step out to the three-point line." I dont understand....Does he mean he can stand on the 3 point line? I am suprised that this kind of stuff gets published. Josh Smith doesnt even play the 3! "Smith is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA." Again, why is it that I constantly see things that are untrue about the Hawks...

Bret LaGree said...

I'll be generous and assume that's partly a typo and Mr. Carroll meant to write that Joe Smith is an aggressive jump shooter. Sadly, that's true.

The perimeter defender bit is mind-boggling. I can't recall a single moment of this season one might have watched and come to that conclusion.