Thursday, May 06, 2010

ESPN.com: Hollinger: Hawks' Style Not Suited For Playoffs

John Hollinger examines the difficulties the Hawks (and Trailblazers) have had in recreating their low-possession, high-efficiency offense in post-seasons past and present (Insider):
[T]heirs is a volume strategy. The Hawks and Blazers might not take better shots than other teams, but they take a lot more of them. Over time, that gives them enough of an advantage to make them potent offensive squads overall.

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Atlanta, as the league's third-best offense, should at least be able to battle these defenses to a draw. But even before Tuesday's Game 1 implosion against Orlando, they were struggling. The Hawks can't make shots, ranking just 14th out of 16 teams in postseason TS percentage. While they've still been able to generate second shots (they lead all teams in playoff Offensive Rebound Rate) and have been somewhat successful at avoiding turnovers, the net result put the Hawks 11th among the 16 playoff teams in postseason Offensive Efficiency.

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Is there something about iso-heavy offenses that makes them vulnerable in the playoffs? We can't say it with certainty yet, but the case is building rapidly. The Hawks have three games left to show that Iso-Joe can be as effective in May as it is between November and April.

2 comments:

Bronn said...

Iso Joe wasn't exactly an effective option during the regular season against most teams. It worked excellently against teams with poor defenses. The first two months of the Hawks season saw them utilize a lot more ball movement and feeding the ball through the bigs, and they had the most efficient offense in the league.

As the season wore on, they fell back into Iso-Joe more and more often, and eventually it dented their pristine offensive efficiency numbers enough to drag them back down to third. October through December, we saw a very different Hawks offense. They're skilled and smart enough to have found what was functional, but without a coach who focuses enough on offense to remind them what's been working for them, they will fall back into bad habits. It's almost certainly too late to break those habits at this point

The Casey said...

With the amount of preparation time in the playoffs, teams should be able to take away at least one given facet of an offense, and the iso is a particularly easy one to deal with. An offense that creates options for different players (pick & roll, triangle) is going to necessarily be more difficult to defend, as the focus can shift from player to player depending on what the defense does.

Also, in the regular season, where a team plays 3 different teams a week, there's not as much time to focus on any one offense as the playoffs, where you're playing the same team for a week or two. I think that's one of the big reasons the iso offense usually sputters.