Monday, November 22, 2010

Boston Celtics 99 Atlanta Hawks 76


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
BOS 90
56.7 17.1
ATL 90
0.844 38.3

NOTE: Those Boston totals include the effects of their 14-point, 7-turnover, 23-possession fourth quarter and thus flatter the Hawks.

There are nights when analysis fails, when the better team plays so well and the lesser team plays so poorly that nothing about either is truly learned. Suffice to say the Hawks attempted 17 field goals (they made four) in the first quarter. Two of those attempts were in the paint. Three more were attempted within 15 feet of the basket. On the other end of the court, the Celtics missed just six shots and rebounded four of those misses in the first quarter. Hence Boston's 39-13 lead after 12 minutes.

further suggests that effortThe combination of poor initial defense, poor defensive rebounding, and jump shots aplenty confirmed every fear one could have about this Hawks team before the season. At least four times in the first six minutes, Boston got a dunk or put-back when Al Horford was literally the only Hawk in the defensive paint. Yes, I generally reject the argument that better defensive effort is the solution to Atlanta's defensive shortcomings but the visible lack of defensive effort tonight is what keeps the Hawks a below-average rather than a terrible defensive team.

There's little question that effort is also a big part of Atlanta's typical offensive success. One would be hard pressed to identify much in the way of (constructive) effort on that end of the floor for the Hawks, either. Josh Smith took just three shots (two of them outside of 20 feet) in 22 minutes. Joe Johnson was 0-4 in the paint and got to the free throw line just once. Jamal Crawford took just six shots in 31 minutes. The Hawks attacked Shaquille O'Neal, pick-and-roll defender, less than any team in memory, limiting the team's best offensive player so far this season to shooting face-up jumpers.

Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford showed a little life in the second quarter. They combined to score 9 of Atlanta's first 23 points and made an effort defensively both before and after Boston got a shot up. It was almost certainly too little, too late but it didn't last long either. As soon as the Boston lead got under 20, with just over seven-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson were back in the game and the Celtics scored on consecutive possessions with the second bucket coming on a Nate Robinson offensive rebound.

For whatever reason, Teague played just 2:27 of the second half despite the entire half being essentially garbage time. Teague came out after Nate Robinson made consecutive three-pointers in front of the Atlanta bench but Drew couldn't have pulled Teague to make a point about perimeter defense, could he? The entire Atlanta careers of Bibby and Jamal Crawford (not to mention much of Joe Johnson's) exemplify a pattern of non-accountability for the defense from the guards. Teague has had two head coaches in Atlanta, neither of whom have demonstrated the slightest confidence in any part of his game. Maybe that's warranted but, from the outside, it seems a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision to make an example of Teague on this night when he was absolutely the least of Atlanta's problems and lends further credence to the idea that there's almost no limit to how poorly the tenured guards can play without their playing time being reduced.


Unknown said...

Does analysis really fail? If you mean tactical analysis, then yes - it fails. But it's fair to say that there are nights like this where you will lose because another team is hot, but the lack of fight is something I will keep saying is the biggest on court issue (I still maintain that ownership & poor management is the problem at a 50K ft level), but for all the accolades we give Horford, Smith, etc - these guys do not have a leader, don't have pride, and aren't tough.

None of, to me, that's an indictment on everyone in the organization. I'll believe we want to change it when I see a new lineup and changes to the game. I agree wholeheartedly about Teague though. His confidence is shot. If Drew doesn't pull a minimum a respectable backup point guard performance out of him, that will be the first indictment of the Drew era to me.

Bret LaGree said...

Fair points, all. Having slept on it, a better opening would have been "analysis fails me."

I think the leadership thing is a function of the lack of depth, of the lack of options available and used by this head coach and the last. The team knows if what they want to do doesn't work, there's not another option available to them.

That's an exaggeration, of course, Teague and Jordan Crawford totally outplayed the tenured guards at the end of the first quarter, start of the second. To me, they exhibited leadership through their actions before being put back in their place.

CoCo said...

I'm so glad I'm on a "sports diet" and I didn't watch the game. I did get Twitter updates though. I can't say this wasn't totally expected. Everything went right for this team last season. No injuries, led the league in fewest turnovers, career year for Jamal and etc. I knew they wouldn't be so lucky this season. This is the same team and that's the problem. Other teams got a little better or at least made moves in an attempt to get better. This team doesn't have one quality win under their belt. Not one. A win in New Jersey will not make everything better. It will just reinforce the fact that they can only beat teams who they are obviously better than. But hell, a loss tonight wouldn't surprise me.