A shorter, slightly different version of my recap appears as #3 in the Daily Dime this morning.
"They outplayed us in almost every spot up and down the floor. If we keep handing out those easy baskets, it could be over quick."I could stop there, couldn't I?
No, I couldn't. Let's talk about Josh Smith.
Mike Woodson on Josh Smith:
"There's nothing he can't do on the floor. [ed.--*cough*jump shots*cough*] We just have to keep him playing at a high level, keep his head in the game and we'll be just fine."John Salmons on Smith:
"He's one of those players that can control the game without calling plays for him."Josh Smith:
"I just have to give credit to my teammates for sticking with me. They know whenever they pass the ball in the post and I get double-teamed, I’m going to make the right play. I was able to get it going early and sustain it throughout the ballgame."Michael Cunningham on a key component of Smith's performance, one I shamefully overlooked:
The thing I noticed is even when the Hawks made a bad play at one end he just sprinted back the other way instead of sulking.Drew, though, wins the most observant award:
Josh Smith was three pouts, two jump shots, and one pass away from a perfect game.No word if pouts will soon be tracked by SynergySports but I wouldn't bet against it.
Mike Woodson's so happy, he's giving credit to the home crowd:
"The fans have been great the last three years. They really enjoy the product on the floor and how we play. They’ve been huge in the playoffs, like a sixth man."Al Horford is wary of the awaiting home crowd:
"We’re on edge. We can’t take anything lightly. I’m sure it’s going to be a tough environment. We’re fighting for our lives."Wherein Scott Skiles praises the Hawks and criticizes the Bucks in equal measure:
"There are a lot of problems in dealing with them. But if you're going to drive to the basket against a team that had double-digit blocks in the (previous) two games, and you throw the ball right in their arms, you've got an issue there. This is the highest level (of basketball) in the world. You've got to go in there and get it up and over them, or you've got to stop and pop before you get to that level. Or you've got to draw it and kick it to somebody else."I'm going to miss his post-game quotes when this series is over.
Or, for that matter, his pre-game qoutes. Like this answer to a question about Josh Smith:
"It's been awhile since I've looked at the numbers, but Josh has taken about 770 shots during the regular season right in the restricted area, and roughly 280 were outside the painted area."Before the game, Kurt Helin, at Pro Basketball Talk, argued that the Hawks wouldn't be troubled by Brandon Jennings for a second consecutive game. He was right. After the game, Michael Cunningham talked to the Hawks about how they did it.
After the game, Jennings revealed he'd been reduced to the editorial we:
"They're going to block some shots. Our main thing is we're going to have to start learning how to pump-fake a little bit more or even hitting the elbow jump shot. If we're going to go in there, we're going to have to try to dunk it."The Human Highlight Blog assesses the performance of the Hawks' bench:
stinkyOkay, full excerpt:
The Hawks bench was.....uh, stinky. They were as bad as the Bucks starters were, and therefore got outpaced 40-7 by their reserve counterparts as a result. Zaza Pachilia, Maurice Evans, and Jamal Crawford simply didn't have the same vibe the starters did, and to Mike Woodson's credit, he didn't wait long for them to find it.And, from the same recap, a better joke than I could muster about the garbage time confrontation between curious Mike Woodson infatuations past and present:
Royal Ivey v. Mario West: Ivey won the battle, West wins the war.Jeff Schultz makes the obvious comparison involving Josh Smith:
He is forever the Hawks’ X-factor because so few can do what he does, which, by the way, is everything. The only comparable might be a guy named LeBron.Never heard that nickname for Gerald Wallace before.
Michael Hunt on the apparently impossible problem facing Scott Skiles:
Before his team had the chance to offer up another eight shots that the Atlanta Hawks could swat off the base of Stone Mountain all the way from downtown Philips Arena, Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles was his typically upfront self about the clear physical disparities between the playoff opponents.Frank Madden has a suggestion. That I agree with it can provide comfort to fans of either team, I suppose:
Of course, Skiles said, the Hawks have length and size all over the Bucks. But if they could somehow find that little something extra that has carried them throughout the second half of the regular season, Skiles said he could live with the results.
So what do you do now?
The effort wasn't the issue Tuesday night. The Bucks hung with the Hawks about as long as humanly possible without the kind of center that might have put a cease-and-desist order on some of the mismatches that continued to occur with regularity on a floor where the home team almost never loses.
the Bucks' starting unit just isn't very good (-6.5 pts/100 possessions in the regular season). It's not to say the Bucks' bench is a more productive group pound-for-pound (they tend to face weaker competition obviously), but relatively speaking they're usually better than the other team's bench. Based on what we've seen over the past few weeks, the Bucks' recipe for winning seems to be a) hope that the starters keep it close and b) let the bench build a lead. It also makes you wonder whether it's worth keeping everything constant rather than, for instance, putting Ilyasova in for Delfino or Mbah a Moute.At SI.com, Frank Hughes states the obvious:
Milwaukee shot just 43.6 percent from the field during the regular season, which ranked next-to-last in the league, behind only New Jersey. Essentially, they struggle to shoot from the outside. But when they attempt to get to the rim, Josh Smith and the rest of Atlanta's frontcourt are waiting to swat away any shots. After 11 blocks in Game 1, the Hawks came up with another eight rejections in Game 2, which then forced the Bucks back to the outside, where poor shot after poor shot sent the game into a tailspin.Soaring Down South also gives the Atlanta Hawks' defense some well-earned attention:
As nice as those offensive numbers are the key to this Hawks victory was in their defense. I don’t think I have ever seen the Hawks force a team into as many tough shots as the Bucks last night. The switching defense was working well last night as simply the Bucks could not find room to operate and were forced into long jump shots at the shot clock buzzer with a hand in their face. Some nights those shots go in sometimes they don’t. Last night’s game was the latter for the Bucks. Also the Hawks blocked 8 shots as a team so they were contesting everything.Pictures with Captions