Sunday, May 02, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 95 Milwaukee Bucks 74

Boxscore

Team Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
MIL 80
0.925
34.9 16.3
24 6.3
ATL 79 1.203 51.3
22.4
43.6
15.2

Al Horford was massive. 16 points (on 8 shots and 6 free throw attempts), 15 rebounds, 4 assists (against 3 turnovers), 3 blocks, outstanding defense (both inside and out), and tireless work off-the-ball to free teammates (Jamal Crawford, in particular) for open shots.

Crawford was something of a difference maker himself. The 21-point margin of victory speaks to the frequency with which Crawford converted open looks and the infrequency with which John Salmons and Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino and Luke Ridnour converted their open looks.

Mike Bibby deserves a healthy share of credit for making six of his twelve field goal attempts (three of five three-pointers). Even more exceptionally, he grabbed six rebounds (2 offensive), and played defense as well as could be expected. In one instance, by getting back on defense, he sufficiently slowed Jennings in transition to give Joe Johnson the opportunity for a spectacular block. When the Bucks attacked Bibby in their half-court offense, Bibby mostly maintained decent-to-good defensive position and forced players to score over him. Mostly, they failed to do so.

Josh Smith struggled with foul trouble for much of the game and his scoring numbers are inflated by virtue of him making two ill-conceived jump shots in the third quarter but he defended almost as well as Horford when on the court and, though he grabbed just five rebounds, was a key part of the team effort on the glass.

As were both Zaza Pachulia, who filled in admirably for Smith in the first half, and Marvin Williams. Williams grabbed nine rebounds (six offensive) and got a hand on several more. He struggled to knock down shots, but his consistent aggression got him to the line four times and he converted each of his foul shots.

Joe Johnson struggled to make shots as well (and, quite predictably, couldn't make up for it by getting to the line), needing 14 of them to tally 8 points, but he didn't force the issue in the fourth quarter, being content with just two field goal attempts (both of which he made) one of which came in transition.

Now, does the sound team basketball of most of the last two games portend good things for the Orlando series which begins Tuesday? I suspect not. Milwaukee shot the ball horribly. The 35-point combined margin of the final two games represents the confluence of good defense and bad shooting. Orlando were second in the league in eFG% this season. The Hawks cannot sag defensively and succeed for very long against the Magic. Al Horford, the best player in this series, will have to step up in class from Kurt Thomas to Dwight Howard. Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson will draw Josh Smith away the basket, increasing the distance he'll need to travel to provide help defense. Jameer Nelson figures to finish more consistently than Brandon Jennings, and Vince Carter, diminished by age though he is, is better than John Salmons.

The Hawks face a massive task. I think winning one game against Orlando is a realistic expectation. Especially if they give a performance of the quality the demonstrated in the first half of Game 1, the third quarter of Game 6, or the entirety of Game 7. Should they revert to the form they displayed in Game 3 against the Bucks against a team of Orlando's capabilities the degree of embarrassment could be exceptional.

4 comments:

CoCo said...

Do you think if the Hawks guards make the same attempts to get Howard in foul trouble as the Bobcats did that would be their best bet at winning games? I think the Hawks have more offensive options than the Bobcats, so it could work. The guards never attack Howard, instead they try to rely on Horford to get him in foul trouble, which really didn't work. Give me something to look forward to Bret!

Gatorcat said...

Thank you for recognizing
Al's contribution. The talk post game show(790) on the radio took twenty minutes before they gave him half a sentence. The love speak for Joe Johnson and Bibby has almost caused me to drive off the road. Shame it is the only show in town.

Aaron said...

I'm hoping for two wins. Pity me.

Ben Castellon said...

I think we got good practice in guarding Jennings as to how to stop the drive or at least minimize damage on switching defenses. If we stop his and carters penetrations into the lane, Josh's guarding Lewis on the perimeter (not being able to play help D) will be minimized. But at the end of the day our shots have to fall, theirs can't, and the whistles need to go our way or we're done.