Sunday, November 28, 2010

Atlanta Hawks 96 Toronto Raptors 78

Boxscore

Team
Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL
90
1.067
51.9
17.7
17.5
12.2
TOR 90
0.867 40.7
28.4
17.8
16.7

Wherein Josh Smith delights lovers of base-10...

Though the lack of defensive resistance Toronto offers provided little in the way of useful perspective with which to evaluate the general level of quality the Hawks achieved Sunday afternoon, it did grant us a game-long look at how Larry Drew's offense is designed to work: constant movement of both players and the ball until someone, anyone gets an open look.

The five starters plus Jamal Crawford each attempted between 8 and 13 field goals. Each of the six players earned at least one assist. The team scored frequently and early enough to allow Drew to limit the minutes of most of the core players. The Hawks can't make the Raptors provide a stern defensive test. They can only go out and execute or not. This afternoon, they executed.

Toronto, assembled in such a way as to preclude the possibility of playing quality defense, should be far more concerned with their complete offensive capitulation in the third quarter. They scored 50 points on their first 46 possessions, a rate sufficient to compete in this game as well as almost exactly what one would expect given the season-to-date performances of both their offense and Atlanta's defense. Over the final 10:27 of the third quarter, they managed to make just one field goal, five free throws, and committed six turnovers. Offensive execution is not so easy as it seems.

One thing that neither seems nor is easy is breaking into the Atlanta rotation as a young point guard. Jeff Teague again got pulled immediately after making a mistake. With 8:56 left in the second quarter, he made a lazy pass while initiating the offense. Leandro Barbosa stole the pass and took it in for a layup. It was a unforced error in every respect. It was also exactly like unforced turnovers Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford have committed in recent games. Unlike Teague, they are allowed to play through* their mistakes. Also unlike Teague, neither Bibby nor Crawford figure to have any long-term impact on the fortunes of this franchise. Given the dire salary cap restrictions the Hawks will face until almost the middle of this decade, a rookie-scale contract should be like gold to this franchise but they appear completely willing neither to use Teague nor get anything useful for him. If he is so limited that the team** cannot overcome him committing a turnover or giving up a open shot, then sit him next Etan Thomas and give his spot in line to Jordan Crawford.

Just as soon as Rick Sund explains why he took Teague ahead of DeJuan Blair and Darren Collison. It should be even more captivating as his explanation that the Hawks "play really well" when everything's working and they'd be a better team if they could play good defense.

*Even Josh Powell, terrible now and disposable going forward, committed a turnover inbounding the basketball when the game was still within in six late in the second quarter. He finished the half and made his regular appearance in the third quarter.

**A team, I remind you, whose backcourt defense consists of some combination of Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, and Joe Johnson.

1 comment:

Peter said...

The organization's treatment of Teague is both maddening and puzzling, indeed.