Saturday, May 01, 2010

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Atlanta Hawks 83 Milwaukee Bucks 69




Al Horford:
"It really defines what our team is about."
Josh Smith:
"We know what it takes to win. We don’t want to make the same slip-up [as in Game 5], and we want to prove everybody wrong. Everyone counted us out except the people in this locker room."
Much like the qualifying-for-the-playoffs T-shirts the organization printed up, these quotes are understandable but not especially encouraging to partisans. Certainly, the good win far outweighs any post-game comments, but this organization has a history of celebrating things that aren't really accomplishments and I suspect that many of the passionate few who commit their time and energy to supporting this team want to see them do it again Sunday before expressing similar sentiments.

Joe Johnson:
"What really won the game was defense. I don’t think we’ve been that active all season."
Al Horford:
"The guards did a good job of getting over the screens."
Josh Smith:
"Guys just got over screens. We really didn’t have to help [with switches]. It was just the will. Desire. We wanted to win this game."
There's a lot of post-game talk about the zone defense the Hawks played in the third quarter. "Zone" is not an apt description in my opinion. Incessently switching screens functions as something of a matchup zone. In the third quarter, the Hawks just switched less which forced the guards to move their feet more, which in turn, both allowed the frontcourt to maintain good help position and made it possible for the guards to push the ball toward help rather than just watch it go by.

Watch the third quarter again and you'll see it's not really a 1-2-2 zone (as Chris Sheridan called it) nor anything wildly different philosophically than what they've played before. You'll see Al Horford pick up John Salmons at the top of the key on a switch. Horford doesn't let Salmons get past him. We've seen that many times this series. What's different is that the the other four Hawks are compact and in position so Horford, in forcing Salmons to the weak side, leaves Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the corner, as the only outlet.

The "zone" involved a lot of switching of off-the-ball screens at the elbow extended (Josh Smith's fast break and-1 came from this). Not exactly a drastic change for the Hawks. What was indisputably different was the effort the Hawks made to get back and get set defensively and the degree of communication and teamwork once Milwaukee began running their sets. Milwaukee shot the ball terribly in the third quarter, but it's remarkable how much better a team can look defensively (regardless of minor tactical tweaks) when its philosophy changes from "He's not my problem, you take him." to "Let's keep them in front of us."

Scott Skiles on the third quarter defense:
"They gave a zone look, but they also go with movement, they're matching up, so they're not in a straight zone. And then sometimes they switch, so it only looks like [a zone]."
Mike Woodson:
"We just tried to mix it up a little bit. They are so good in the one-on-one position and you’re not sitting down and taking individual challenges on the ball. It becomes a nightmare."
That sort of addresses the irony of the Hawks possessing a successful offense that's predicated on creating one-on-one mis-matches and a mediocre defense that cannot prevent such opportunities.

Skiles on another key to the game:
"We missed 51 shots and (only) got eight of them back. They outplayed us, no question."
Jamal Crawford enjoyed the first really good playoff performance of his career:
"I felt like I was letting everybody down the first few games, especially the last game. I haven't slept much the last couple of days. Usually in that situation the next game can't come fast enough."
Kelly Dwyer profiles the inherent limitations of the Bucks which were exposed by Atlanta's good defensive performance:
While an open jumper is sometimes preferable to a contested shot around the basket, personnel has to be accounted for here, and that extends to coach Skiles. His teams in Phoenix, Chicago and (to a ridiculous degree) Milwaukee have long struggled to earn free-throw attempts, and while Atlanta did a sound job to contest close shots without fouling, the Bucks can't decline finishing opportunities in the paint in favor of tossing the ball out to perimeter jump shooters, who frankly aren't very good at shooting on the perimeter.
At Soaring Down South, Kris Willis acknowledges the offensive limitations of the Hawks which were on display in the fourth quarter:
I admit that I am as big a Joe Johnson fan that is out there. Even I had to worry that he was going to shoot us right back out of the game. The greatness of Joe is not only his scoring ability but his ability to make others better with his passing. That is where he could be most effective now and it would open things up for him offensively as well. However, the Hawks stand around on offense more than any team still playing in the playoffs.
At Bucksketball, Jeremy Schmidt examines the role playoff pressure may or may not have played in Game 6.

In the recap at Brew Hoop, Alex Boeder, dubs Milwaukee's Game 6 loss "buzzsuicide."

Confirmation that the Hawks will have a summer league team.

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