Sunday, May 09, 2010

Quotes, Notes, and Links: Orlando Magic 105 Atlanta Hawks 75


Check out the gameflow to see just how consistently and thoroughly the Magic dominated the game. The Hawks have three runs: 5-0 to close within 31-43 in the second quarter, 6-0 to make it 41-59 early in the third quarter, and a 14-3 run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 73-93.



Joe Johnson:
"This is tough. It’s an ugly loss, it’s embarrassing. But it happens."
It happens six out of seven times against Orlando, apparently. Ah, professionalism.

Josh Smith (1-6 on jump shots, 0 assists):
"Offensively, the ball was stuck on one side of the floor. They’re a great defensive team. When you do that against a great defensive team, you just play into their hands. And we didn’t help each other on defense like we needed to."
Al Horford:
"I’m not the kind of person to point people out. I will acknowledge it, but I’m not going to curse them out or anything. It’s frustrating when the effort is not there."
Mike Woodson:
"Tonight was just unacceptable. I’ve got to take responsibility. I’m the coach. I thought we were going to come out and compete, and we didn’t."
More from Joe Johnson:
"It was a bad game. You'll never hear me come up with any excuse."
Stan Van Gundy on Orlando's defense:
"We're working hard on [Johnson], but I don’t think it's anything in particular that we're doing."
Stan Van Gundy on his team's effort:
"What I really like is the intensity. The guys never got big-headed. They came to play. They played hard."
Mike Woodson:
"After we played three wonderful quarters there in Orlando, I figured we would come home and really play at a high level, make a series out of it. We were so flat coming out."
In addition to the difference between figuring and demanding, I doubt Stan Van Gundy would ever describe a three quarter stretch wherein his team gave up about 130 points per 100 possessions as "wonderful."

Michael Cunningham:
Watching the Magic run their offense and then watching the Hawks try to do the same is like seeing two teams who play in different leagues.
Johnson on the crowd's disapproval of the home team's performance:
"That doesn’t bother me and I hope it doesn’t bother anyone in this locker room. It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if [fans] showed up."
The fans may put that sentiment to the test Monday night.

"It’s terrible to have a performance like that, especially individuals, [including] myself. These guys look to me for guidance, and when you are playing like that, it is almost impossible for us to win. I take a lot of heat for this, a lot of criticism."
Dribbling, contested jump shots, few free throw attempts...chin up, Joe, those guys are taking guidance from you.

Dwight Howard:
"We understand that for us to win we have to play together."
Van Gundy:
"We've won because of our defense. That's how we've won during the year and that's how we'll win in the playoffs."
Rashard Lewis:
"We have so much talent on our team that somebody has to sacrifice their role. It's Dwight, Vince … Jameer's role. Everybody else plays around them. I've been in the league 12 years, had my ups and downs, made an all-star team. What's left besides winning a championship?"
Peachtree Hoops on the Atlanta Hawks' stubborn conviction in what is not working:
It's a well used, okay, overused phrase: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The Atlanta Hawks came home facing an 0-2 deficit to a team that went to the NBA Finals last year and had handled the Hawks in five of the six games the two teams had played this season.

Instead of fixing the problems that have haunted the team all season long and especially in this series, the Hawks came out and tried the same old thing with the same old effort. Did the result change? No.
Kevin Pelton:
In the first three games of this series, Orlando's Offensive Ratings have gone 126.9, 135.4 and 128.7. It's almost impossible to overcome giving up points at that rate. The Hawks were able to do so for part of Game Two, but in the other two games of this series their offense has been almost as ineffective as their offense.

The most obvious culprit is Joe Johnson, and any sympathy he might have engendered for an ill-timed slump was lost when he criticized Atlanta fans for booing the team in general and him in particular in Game Three. Johnson is almost certain to be paid like a superstar player this summer. I'm dubious he's ever played at that level, but we can all agree he hasn't during the postseason. Johnson had another disastrous game, shooting 3-of-15 from the field. Basically, the Magic has been content to let Johnson shoot from the perimeter, especially inefficient long twos. Johnson made just one of 10 attempts beyond 15 feet. Give credit to Stan Van Gundy for a good scheme and to Matt Barnes for executing it.
Chris Sheridan, May 2nd:
On to the next round, and on to the most pertinent question regarding the Atlanta Hawks: How relevant will their postseason flameouts from 2008 (blown out in Game 7 in Boston) and 2009 (swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers) be in 2010?

Josh Smith, why don't you tackle that one:

"Irrelevant. We've got Jamal [Crawford]. We're healthy, the depth is there, and we don't have to rely solely on the starters to get the job done."

That is the state of the Hawks in a nutshell, and Exhibit A to back up Smith's point was Sunday's box score from Atlanta's 95-74 dismantling of the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7, showing a team-high 22 points from the player Smith referenced: Crawford, the newly minted Sixth Man of the Year.

But there's more to the Hawks that makes them a different team from the one we've grown accustomed to seeing on the wrong end of a pulverization in the past two postseasons.
Chris Sheridan, May 9th:
The stampede toward the exits was steady throughout the fourth quarter, but those who stayed let the Hawks hear it after what can only be described as an utter embarrassment of an effort in which the stakes were so high.

Amazingly, the boos and the groans started coming from the home crowd during the first minute of the game, and they never really ceased as the Magic gave a clinic on ball movement, playing with energy and focusing on attaining a goal.

Atlanta had just nine, count 'em, nine, assists over the entire 48 minutes, trailed by as many as 32 and gave every single season-ticket holder an excuse to hold a dollar sale on StubHub for Monday night's Game 4.
Bret LaGree, May 2nd:
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.
It's no fun being (on the rare occasions I experience it) right.

Ben Q. Rock witnessed early portents of doom for the Atlanta Hawks:
[A]s early as their third possession, we got a great indication of how the game would play out. Lewis short-rimmed a three-pointer from the right wing, but the ball caromed directly to him about 18 feet from the rim. Johnson and Josh Smith converged to get the board, but backed off once Lewis snared it. Johnson then turned his attention to finding his man, while Smith took a step back and clapped his hands in frustration. Lewis took a few dribbles to the basket and laid it in. He's seen more aggressive defense in pregame layup lines, I can assure you. It struck me as odd that Smith would just concede the shot like that, even knowing Smith's reputation for taking plays off. It was emblematic of a problem that affected most of the Hawks players today, by my estimation: an utter lack of urgency or purpose. I Tweeted that Atlanta approached this game with all the intensity it'd bring for a January game against the Nets, and even that might have been charitable. Whereas the Magic patiently ran their offense on one end, the Hawks just forced the issue on the other. They didn't turn the ball over--they rarely do, ranking first in turnover rate this season--but just did not get good looks.

There are exceptions; not every Hawk dogged it. Crawford, for one, played his heart out, and I sort of felt sorry for him. He's making his 1st postseason appearance after 10 years in the league, and he frankly deserves better than this. Al Horford battled at both ends, and though he wasn't exceptionally effective, you can't knock his effort. The same can be said for his backup, Zaza Pachulia. But the other Hawks? Just average, I would say, with Smith and Johnson, whom many observers regard as their two best players, clocking out early.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball:
The Magic, if anything, played like the team that was down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. There was a sense of urgency from Orlando for 48 minutes and it wasn’t too hard to tell by how they played. The ball movement was crisp on offense, the execution was great on both ends of the court, and the Magic played like a team dead-set on going in for the killshot. All the credit needs to be directed at head coach Stan Van Gundy because he has his players prepared and keeps them grounded despite the success they’ve had so far. Very rarely will Orlando’s focus waver at the task at hand. This was evident in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats when the Magic finished things off on the road and it’s evident now against the Hawks.


Jerry Hinnen said...

When I saw that Smith "play" on Lewis in the first--first!--quarter, I thought it was vaguely ironic that the Hawks and Smith have faced not one but two coaches this postseason who would have sat him down immediately--or least given him a good ass-chewing--for that kind of effort.

Smith, however, one game after being caught dogging it repeatedly, was rewarded for such displays by tying for the team lead in minutes played and was allowed to put more FGAs than anyone else.

I know this horse has long been dead, but still, the contrast between Woodson's approach and Skiles/SVG's is stunning.

jrauch said...

This is what makes, for me, being a Hawks fan all the more frustrating. I feel that at least the last three years have in part been squandered with this abundance of young talent, because we lack a coach who seems like he has any clue what he's doing.

From considering Mario West a "defensive specialist" which is really just Woodson-speak for "we play 4-on-5 offensively when he's out there, and had a knack for bad fouls within the last minute of halves" to failing to hold anyone on the team remotely accountable, I'm left wondering "what if?"

I think this team, if smartly used, could beat the Magic. But not with the current regime in place.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Deep Blue could be "using" this edition of the Hawks and they would not beat the Magic.

But that doesn't prohibit them from at least being semi-competitive. Two years ago a Hawks team much, much worse than this one proved as much two springs ago against a Celtics team at least as good as this version of the Magic. The Hawks weren't all that much better on the road in that series and they still could have easily been swept if Joe Johnson hadn't gone totally bananas, but still: there's no doubt that 2008 team was worse but played better than the current Hawks are playing. Maybe it's Woodson, maybe it's Woodson's lame-duck status undermining his authority, maybe it's Johnson's decline removing the Hawks' best option against top-shelf defenses, maybe--most likely--it's all of that plus another several factors together.

But I do think it's fair to say the Hawks should be better than this.

rbubp said...

A team that is playing three on five or four on five will never win.

The Hawks have been playing with quitters on the floor the whole series. If everybody has not bought in you're playing with less than a full lineup.

mick said...

The best player on the team for the playoffs has been AL forford. I was at game two in Orlando and he was the only player who gave a damn and worked and both ends and he did it against a player who is widely regarded as one of the top 3 players in the league. I think the only thing this series has proven is that horford is already the best player on this team and a top 4 center in the league and the hawks can be perfectly fine without johnson especially if they can start getting something out of teague and maybe pick up a solid defensive 2 in the draft.