Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Orlando Magic 114 Atlanta Hawks 71

Gameflow

Highlights

Recap

Stan Van Gundy:
"I think the challenge is to not get carried away with the score. It was just one of those nights where everything snowballed. It's one game, so we really have to get our minds focused on what we need to do in Game 2. I think our defense in particular can be much better than it was tonight."
Mike Woodson:
"I wish I knew. Your guess is as good as mine. We competed and came out ready to play, but had nothing the rest of the way. We have just got to go back and regroup."
I knew. I didn't guess. This is not encouraging.

Woodson:
"We didn’t play Atlanta Hawks basketball."
You sure? This is the fourth time this exact same game has been played against the Magic this season. This Atlanta Hawks basketball every bit as much as coming from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to prove everyone wrong is Atlanta Hawks basketball.

Full credit due Orlando Magic basketball (est. 2007) and its emphasis on team defense and ruthless shot selection.

Al Horford:
"It’s one loss."
Jamal Crawford:
"It’s just one game in a series."
Joe Johnson:
"It’s a long series. Anything is possible. We just need to look at the tape and make adjustments."
Apparently it's seventh loss in eight games against Orlando, five of them blowout losses, that gets this team's attention.

Mike Woodson:
"We haven’t had many games where Jamal, Joe, and Bibby just couldn’t make shots. It puts too much pressure on you."
Pressure being, in this case, having to figure out an offense that doesn't rely on taking the exact type of shots the other team wants you to take.

Josh Smith:
"We don’t get discouraged. We are a team that perseveres and plays hard. We just have to play better on the defensive end and make it hard for them to score."
Maybe you (the team, the organization, not just Josh Smith) should get discouraged. It might lead to an honest self-assessment.

Witness to the post-game quotes, Michael Cunningham, puts them in context:
There wasn’t much conviction behind their words. But what else can they say? That they don’t have the depth of personnel to deal with both Dwight and the Magic’s skilled perimeter players? That they can’t run an offense with nearly the same precision, speed and effectiveness as the Magic?
Al Horford on the quick hook he got from the head coach:
"That’s the coach’s plan. He felt Jason and Zaza in would be better. I have to deal with that."
Woodson's explanation:
"I didn’t think that hurt us. That was towards the latter part of the first quarter. We came in with Jason and Jason picked up a few fouls, but I didn’t want Al going through the quarter with two fouls and now he’s got to be looking over his shoulder going into the second quarter. I thought we played it right. That had nothing to do with second quarter letdown."
It's pathological this fear of future foul trouble. Of all the things Mike Woodson could have learned from Larry Brown, he picks up this annoying tick and runs with it?

Peachtree Hoops takes issue with Mike Woodson's early deployment of Jason Collins:
I do not want to blame all 43 or even 20 of those points on Woody, but he came into this game scared, and I have never seen an underdog team on the road win a game where the coach's strategy was based in fear. Bringing Jason Collins off the bench to "take up fouls" is not a move that wins game, it is a move of survival, and the Hawks are not winning a game of survival.
The Human Highlights Blog at Peachtree Hoops on The Horford Treatement Supreme:
It was also Horford who, with six minutes left in the first quarter, was taken from the game in favor of Jason Collins. Woodson said after the game that it was to "use up fouls" and so Horford wouldn't pick up that second foul. This was the most successful strategy of the night, as Horford never did pick up a second foul.
Usually I envy Chris Sheridan's full-time gig (save the travel required), this morning I merely envy his innocence. There are things I wish I didn't know:
Awfully strange to see Mike Woodson pull one of his two All-Stars, Al Horford, early in the first quarter after he picked up his first foul.
Vince Carter on Dwight Howard:
"That was the most important thing for Dwight --- be patient, don't try to prove the world wrong or whatever."
Wait, not aiming to prove the world wrong might lead to consistent execution? Sounds like you're taking a chance on getting discouraged, Vince.

Jameer Nelson wins the Sportsmanship Award:
"It wasn't easy at all. Don't be confused by the score. They're a tough team and we know they're going to bring it harder and probably play better next game."
HawkStr8Talk:
Charles Barkley said it best - he's disappointed in Mike Woodson's post game comments. He was too calm and he's talking about the fact that we missed too many shots we normally make (which is WRONG - we miss jump shots all the time) and that's not Atlanta Hawk basketball, but no mention about the 114 points we gave up. This from our DEFENSIVE guru coach.
and
I would like to mention again that once the Hawks know they are going to lose - they lose. Make that 13 of 14 games lost in the playoffs over the past 3 years by more than 10 pts. Average pt difference is over 20pts.
The Vent:
Aside from getting their asses kicked by 40+ points, they also failed to show up and face the media. They sent Za Za. Really????? Joe Johnson makes four times as much money as Za Za and plays about four times as many minutes, yet he couldn't come face the media. There's no accountability by anyone on the team which is one of the many reasons they can lose to the Magic by 40 points in a conference semifinal game. Neither Joe, Josh, Al, Mike, or Jamal had the balls to stand up and account for this ass whipping. If they aren't mentally tough enough to take a handful of questions that they can easily bullshit their way through, they probably aren't mentally tough enough to win this series.
Mark Bradley:
It’s no easy feat to trail a Round 2 playoff game by 41 points having played only 36 minutes, but the proud conquerors of Milwaukee managed it. They were down 85-44 after three quarters. And I say it again: This is why so few folks outside Atlanta, and many folks in Atlanta, don’t take seriously a team that won 53 games this season and has survived a Game 7 in each of the two springs.
Charley Rosen:
As ever, after running a paltry few curls off weak-side screens to start the game, the Hawks' offense quickly devolved into a perpetual series of one-on-one adventures. Discounting what occurred in the dregs of garbage time, the Hawks collectively indulged in 31 isos that produced a mere 14 points. Their two main individualistic scorers, Joe Johnson and Crawford, combined to shoot an embarrassing 5 for 22.

The most telling indication of their limited offensive game plan is a comparison of assists — 23 for Orlando against only 12 for Atlanta.

Josh Smith led the Hawks with 14 points on 7-for-14 shooting. He ran, jumped, dunked, and once again wowed everybody with his incandescent athleticism. But Smith also committed several silly fouls, missed all four of his attempted jumpers, and played like an undisciplined schoolyard all-star.

Al Horford struggled to get off a decent shot against the bigger, stronger Howard, and was virtually helpless on defense. Which was precisely the same shortcoming that plagued his teammates on the uphill end of the court — the middle was open, the perimeter was unguarded, and defenders avoided dribble penetrators as if they were lepers.
Lepers.

Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk:
Game two is not going to be exactly like this. The Hawks cannot play this bad again. But in their regular season matchups less severe versions of this same scenario played out. The Magic have a starting five that can best the Hawks starting five, and the Magic bench blows Atlanta out of the water. The Magic have matchup advantages they can easily exploit, while Howard takes away the easy baskets the Hawks try to get off their mismatches.
Eric Freeman:
The Hawks were so bad that I'm not even going to list any individual stats. They were dismantled so thoroughly that the usual cliches about soul-searching and going back to the drawing board don't seem to apply here. In a sense, the Magic blew up the drawing board, proving that they're a much better team that can wreck the Hawks when focused. Atlanta can still make a few games competitive, but it seems extremely unlikely that this series will go more than five games.
Ben Q. Rock has an excellent recap, I recommend reading the whole thing. This excerpt, though brief, is a pretty good summation of the defensive problems:
Orlando's ball movement put pressure on Atlanta to rotate and recover, which it simply couldn't do.
Same goes for Eddy Rivera's recap at Magic Basketball:
To annihilate is to destroy completely.
Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus:
Nothing they did worked on either end, and it's hard to see how a strategic tweak or two is going to change things. The Hawks need to find again what worked for them throughout the regular season. Even if they do that, however, it may not be enough because this matchup is so favorable for Orlando.
Sekou Smith:
The Hawks spent so much time worrying with Howard that they didn’t account for all the work he did setting up his teammates. His was usually the first pass in a series of several that resulted in quality open shots for the Magic, who shot 52 percent from the floor. Howard was as effective as he’s been in any game during these playoffs, going for 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Howard also stayed out of foul trouble early while also tagging the Hawks with severe foul complications early.

If the Hawks’ master plan was to unleash Jason Collins on Howard, it didn’t work either. That failed attempt at getting physical with Howard backfired in the worst way.
At Soaring Down South, Kris Willis did a more thorough job of describing what worked early for the Hawks than did I:
How good was that first quarter? Good enough to have me believing that the Hawks could in fact make this a series. Their was ample ball movement with everyone touching the ball. Josh Smith got off to a decent start offensively despite picking up two fouls. Plus Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby neither played very well offensively. You had to like the position the Hawks were in.

Defensively they were sending double teams at Dwight Howard after he put the ball on the floor and were rotating out to shooters enough to cause the Magic some problems. The Magic made enough shots to maintain the first quarter lead but the Hawks were able to cause some turnovers and turn them into fast break points.
Both Teams Played Hard:

12 comments:

M said...

any solutions, besides firing Woody tonight and bringing in Doug Collins or Avery Johnson for game 2?

Bret LaGree said...

No one involved has shown any inclination to acknowledge or maybe even to consider that the Magic's defense is the defining aspect of this matchup. I think these players, regardless of the coach, would be willing to continue to take low-percentage shots, lose, then talk about having to do something different.

So, no, I don't have a solution for this series.

M said...

Bret,
Are there any possible trade scenarios for josh or marvin (or Joe sign and trade) for the offseason that are feasible for both sides?.. (my assumption is that bibby is not tradeable bc no one would want him).. i feel that josh's negatives (attitude, shot selection, maturity) outweigh his positives (defense, athleticism)

Bret LaGree said...

Could be. I hesitate to make any guesses with so many players and teams in flux. I think the best hope would to trade Marvin or the rights to Childress for a point guard on a cap-friendly deal

Remember, there's no evidence that the Hawks think of Joe Johnson as anything other than a franchise player they want to build around and that they intend to build around him on the cheap.

I think it's a defensible decision not to pay the luxury tax in this market but it's indefensible not to work hard to find cheap, available talent to use both off the bench and as tradeable assets.

Even if they trade Josh Smith for equal value, it's hard to see how that deal would make this team any better. He's still just 24 and has one of the better contracts on the team.

CoCo said...

Joe is not doing himself any favors. If you look at last year's post- season and this one, I don't see how any team that's serious about winning a championship can offer him max money. This whole series may be a blessing in disguise for the Atl Spirit. If they didn't already have doubts about whether or not Joe can or should be a max contract, they should now. At the very least this should make them take a long hard look at it and assess the situation without fear of what the team might look like if he lives creeping into the equation. At this point they should be more afraid of what the team might look like if he stays.

Bret LaGree said...

CoCo --

You and I think that way bu this organization couldn't bear the thought of losing Mike Bibby or Marvin Williams or even Mario West. They haven't managed to get something for the rights of a guy who chose to play in Greece rather than for the Hawks.

They think Joe Johnson's some sort of saint for taking $75 million dollars of their money and that he's far closer in ability to Wade and Kobe than Crawford and Monta Ellis.

CoCo said...

Ugh.

Bronn said...

My greatest hope for this series is that it generates interest in the Hawks' head coaching job from prospective candidates. That someone watching realizes "Gosh, they're so talented and yet so poorly coached that I'd love to get everyone there utilizing their strengths. What a great gig that would be."

Bret LaGree said...

Bronn --

Even if their interest is piqued, once they find out how little they'd get paid to coach the team and realize that no one other than Horford has the "can stay in front of someone 20 feet from the basket" strength (and with about a third of the salary cap marked for Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford and at least one more backcourt spot reserved for Teague and/or Johnson that's a big problem that's unlikely to disappear no matter who's coaching), that interest may be short-lived.

rbubp said...

Bret, who is "they" that think JJ is a franchise guy? Granted, it may be a distinction without a difference, but is Sund the sleeping giant here? What does HE think?

Bret LaGree said...

rbubp --

Ownership. $75 million, 2 1st-round picks, a league average starter, and an offer for at least $60 million more.

Mike Woodson, too. Let's not assume he won't be back. His second contract still defies belief.

Whatever Sund thinks about Joe Johnson, he's given up the cap space necessary to sign any other max player this summer and all of his personnel decisions appear to have him firmly on the jump shooting bandwagon.

Arif said...

Bret, that last picture you posted was priceless.

Here's hoping for at least 2 quarters of decent basketball, instead of just one.