Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Milwaukee Bucks 111 Atlanta Hawks 104




Again, a portion of my post-game reaction was diverted into the Daily Dime (#8).

Joe Johnson:
"It is frustrating, man. It just seems like we don’t have the toughness. They were coming up with all the loose balls, and all the big rebounds. We couldn’t get stops when we needed to. It’s killing us."
It is frustrating that this team seems surprised about not being an especially good rebounding or defensive team.

"It’s been tough because we switch a lot and they just get pretty much any penetration they wanted. They got us helter skelter, to where we are scrambling trying to find guys, and now we are at a disadvantage."
Jamal Crawford:
"Jennings has such quickness that when we get out on him he opens up stuff for his shooters. He gets around one person, he keeps his dribble, Delfino was getting shots Salmons was getting shots, Stackhouse was getting shots Ilyasova was getting shots. I think the penetration is hurting us a little bit."
These are hardly new problems, thus I put little faith in Joe Johnson's (probably necessary for a man in his situation) optimism:
"I am sure we will come up with something. We have just got to get back playing with energy. They are getting layup after layup, you can’t have that in playoff basketball."
Had the Hawks not had that in regular season basketball, the determination would be more admirable than quixotic.

Everyone can get behind this from Joe Johnson:
"We have got to stop complaining so much. We worry about them holding and scratching and clawing. We have just got to do the same thing. Stop worrying about what the refs are calling, and just play. We complain way too much."
Mike Woodson on the Hawks' formula for success:
"We need everybody to play as well that we can get."
Scott Skiles on the keys to Milwaukee's offensive success:
"We have to be a little bit careful. We were back to holding the ball a little bit again, but we were able to get away with it. But we were also driving the ball aggressively and trying to get to the line. Those are split-second decisions that are often difficult to make, especially against a team that's long. We want to drive their switches, but at the same time we also want to keep the ball moving."
Don't worry, Hawks fans, Mike Woodson is already formulating adjustments:
"Somehow we've got to get our defensive mojo back where we're defending and rebounding and running up and down the floor."
13th in Defensive Efficiency
24th in Defensive Rebounding %
27th in Possessions per 48 Minutes

For more on Mike Woodson, check out The Vent.

Or look at this picture from Doc Funk:

Mark Bradley:
Woodson has been through the playoffs and taken an NBA title as a Detroit assistant, but he hasn’t gotten a better team — and the Hawks are clearly more talented — to lock in the way Scott Skiles has. In Games 3 and 4 the Bucks kept finding open shots, while the Hawks approached every position as a degree-of-difficulty challenge.

Afterward one Hawk was heard to wonder why Mo Evans, not known as a scorer, wound up shooting (and missing) on three consecutive fourth-quarter possessions with the Bucks’ lead down to six points. There’s no answer except to say: That’s what the Hawks do. When in doubt, they don’t look for the open man; they look to shoot.
Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk:
You know what the Hawks are going to do on every pick and roll. I know it. Every hoops fan knows it -- the Hawks switch. They think their bigs -- Al Horford, Josh Smith -- are quick enough and long enough to bother point guards into bad shots.

Not Brandon Jennings. All night in game four (and through large parts of game three) he abused the Hawks bigs. Half of his 16 shots came as layups, four more came right on the edge of the key. On those he was 9 of 12. He was killing the Hawks because the Bucks got the matchup they wanted, and they isolated it.

Atlanta tried some traditional pick-and-roll defense, but the guards showed no passion to fight through the pick. Even if he did fight through it, Jennings blows by Bibby faster than Smith or Horford. The Hawks live and die with their athletic bigs partially for that reason.
Kurt Thomas on getting leveled by Mike Bibby:
"I think he just kind of caught me off balance. I was just trying to hold my ground. But yeah, I guess he's been in the weight room a little bit."
Bucks bloggers are so loose they're having fun with homonyms. Brew Hoop:
Oh, Deer. We have a series.
Bucksketball adds a count to the indictment against Atlanta's defense:
For the very first time in his NBA career, [Brandon] Jennings shot over 50% in a game in which he failed to connect on a 3-point basket.
As do these pictures of a phantom switch at NBA Playbook.


rbubp said...

Laughed out loud at the pic. Priceless, in a really disgusted and sad kind of way.

Bronnt said...

The picture was a great find.

Switching was an awful tactic. I wish I still had my recording of game 1 on my DVR so that I could break down the difference between our interior defense then, and last night. Needless to say, our bigs weren't directly checking guards back at home as often. Bringing the help defense allowed them to swat shot after shot and turn the Bucks into a jumpshooting team.

Switching out on guards at the beginning of every possession not only allows a window for the jumpers as someone inevitably goes under the screen, but it destroys the interior defense by taking the shot blockers out of the paint. Josh Smith's got good straight ahead speed, but his lateral quickness leaves something to be desired. Getting him where he's playing man defense on the perimeter absolutely marginalizes him.

Bret LaGree said...

Bronn --

I haven't re-watched Game 4 yet and haven't watched Game 1 or 2 again after the games in Milwaukee but I suspect the key problem defensively was switching the off-the-ball screens against as Milwaukee's movement without the ball improved. The Hawks never appear set defensively and, at times, appear to pick up whomever is closest since they know they're not going to stay with that guy for long.

The long-standing problem this team has had against the Jazz (the volume of off-the-ball screens and the Hawks' insistence on switching as many of them as possible, leaves the defenders almost stationary as the offensive players run their sets and thus out of position or not in ideal balance to help) has surfaced.

The Casey said...

Couple questions, Bret. If, as you've mentioned this week, the Hawks are looking to get rid of their first-rounder in the upcoming draft, how are they going to get any better? As presently constituted, we're seeing their ceiling, which is hopefully not getting swept in the second round. Frankly, I don't think the Hawks could beat either Orlando or Cleveland even if Howard/LeBron were out.

Also, what happens to Josh Smith when he leaves the Greater Atlanta Metro area? It's like he stops enjoying the game. Just because his fans aren't in the building with him doesn't mean we aren't watching.

Bret LaGree said...

The Casey --

I guess they're planning to use the MLE and/or trade the rights to Childress and/or fill the bench with vets on one-year minimum deals who can actually play and/or hire a new coach on the cheap with the understanding that he won't let Josh Smith shoot any jump shots and will improve the team defense somehow.

As for Smith, he's remarkably consistent home and road for his career but not, for some reason, this season. Though his road numbers this season were pretty much all above his career averages. Perhaps the sulking when things get difficult and frustrating is the price Woodson pays for not losing the locker room.

The Casey said...

The Josh Smith home/away thing is more of an eyeball test, I guess. He just doesn't seem as into the games, or maybe that's just my perception of it. He did put up points in Game 4, they were just 'quiet' points, I suppose.

I find myself wondering how deeply the 'Woody Principles' (switching every screen, the iso offense with minimum movement) are ingrained into the team at this point. I don't know that even if he said for guards and bigs not to switch for Game 5, that things would change for more than a few possessions. When it comes down to it, you do what you're used to doing, and I think that you'd end up with one person not switching and one person forgetting and switching. Not every time, but quite a few times.

Something else that I just thought of, too. Woody frequently complains about a lack of energy, but don't his coaching strategies (again, the switching instead of fighting through screens, the standing around and watching the guy with the ball) really lend themselves to a lack of energy? It's easier to play with energy when you're actually doing things.

Sorry to talk your ear off, but it's good to vent some frustration.