Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Detroit Pistons 103 Atlanta Hawks 80

Boxscore

Team
Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL
87
0.92
48.5
20.6
8.3
18.4
DET 88
1.17 53.8
24.4
26.3
13.6

Detroit's plan was clear: attack Mike Bibby or Jamal Crawford in the half-court offense and push the ball up the floor to take advantage of Atlanta's poor transition defense. It wasn't a foolproof plan, the Pistons aren't nearly good enough to be unstoppable. Even in this blowout defeat, the Hawks slowed them in the second quarter and stopped them in the third. But, in the first and fourth quarters, the Pistons scored with ridiculous ease: 67 points on 47 possessions.

The rest of this recap will serve as an introduction to a sort of open thread because I haven't a clue what Larry Drew's plan was tonight. An exaggeration. Larry Drew obviously planned for the Hawks to run lots of deliberate* pick-and-roll with Bibby and Crawford. When that didn't generate easy buckets due to a combination of really poor decision-making from Crawford (2 points on 6 shots, 5 turnovers), Bibby's physical limitations, Mo Evans and Damien Wilkins combining to play 46 minutes of court-compacting offensive basketball, and competent pick-and-roll defense from the Pistons, the Hawks stubbornly pressed on with more of what wasn't working. Al Horford's lone fourth quarter field attempt and single assist for the game further exemplified the offensive dysfunction.

*The Hawks played the game at Detroit's pace and still allowed the Pistons a 23-10 advantage in fast break points.

Drew's rotations made no sense, either. Josh Powell, he of the recently sprained knee and long track record as a unsuccessful professional basketball player, sat for three quarters, then started the fourth. As if the predictable influx of poor defense wasn't bad enough, the Hawks ran two more plays for Powell in the post in the fourth quarter than they did for Horford.

31 minutes for Crawford on a night when he contributed little positive offensively and was his usual liable self defensively is unacceptable. 32 minutes for Damien Wilkins creates a similar problem in reverse. Though he's a better defender than Crawford (or, against bigger opponents, Maurice Evans as well), each minute Wilkins is on the floor further demonstrates his limitations* as an offensive player as much as it creates wonderment with how rarely he gets called for a hand-checking foul. Whatever the reason for that, there is no rational explanation, barring an undisclosed medical condition (and even then it's a toss-up at best) for Marvin Williams to play fewer minutes than Damien Wilkins.

*His uncle's broadcast protestations notwithstanding.

Moving further down the bench, following a dynamite performance against the Pacers on Saturday night, Jeff Teague received just two minutes and nine seconds of meaningful playing time at the end of the first half. At this rate, the Hawks ought to put Teague in a suit next to Jordan Crawford and Pape Sy once Joe Johnson's right elbow heals. They can call themselves "The Draft Picks" and fight crime stylishly while their elders get to play.

If you, dear reader, have an explanation for any of this, please be so kind as to share.

4 comments:

jrauch said...

Meet the new boss. Same (or worse in many cases) than the old boss.

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Woody. At least he was predictable in his awfulness.

Andrew said...

Lets petition to waive Powell

lukas said...

First of all, Mr. Lagree, I want to thank you for your fine work. I live out of the south, work nights, and have no use for cable beyond sports. As such, I get to see what smattering of TNT or ESPN offerings fall on my nights off plus a game or two at the Verizon Center. It amounts to fewer than 10 regular season games per year. Nevertheless, I still feel connected to my beloved Hawks through your posts, which I check for even on off-nights. All in all, I really like Hoopinion and am thankful for it.

Having missed all but one game so far this year, I don't have much in the way of insight, and so must ask a fairly broad question: do you think Larry Drew is a good coach? If not, why not?

Secondly, has Zaza fallen off, talent-wise? If not, how do you account for his diminished production? Is Coach misusing him or does the system expose him?

Does Teague have an attitude problem? Not having seen much of him, I'm desperately trying to understand why he's not used in defensive situations. The only game I saw was against Phoenix, and, Horford's brilliant performance notwithstanding, I kept asking myself why in the hell we didn't get Teague out there to try to slow Nashy down. Scoring is certainly not a problem against the Suns, but Coach seemed content to let us get our faces ripped off (in another brilliant performance) by Mr. Nash in order to keep the shooters on the floor. I'd love to hear your thoughts, as you focused on Horford's excellence rather than Teague's absence.

I'm sorry to draw from so deep in the deck, but, hey, it's all I've actually seen.

Anyway, keep up the good work. You're a liferaft for us exiles.

Bret LaGree said...

Lukas --

Sorry for the delay in replying. Your questions deserved more consideration than I was able to give them last night.

I don't think Larry Drew is a bad coach, though there are some things he does I disagree with (if Larry Brown were coaching the Hawks, there would be things I'd disagree with). I think Drew's a rookie coach, working with a limited roster, and learning on the job.

Zaza's definitely performing worse this season than the past two. Given the limited minutes he plays, his rate stats could rebound pretty quickly though. He's always been better when his coach makes him feel important. Sitting behind the inferior Josh Powell (if not Collins, who is a different type of player) probably doesn't accomplish that.

Teague is not used in defensive situations because Larry Drew doesn't trust him. Whether that's due to something related to Teague's abilities or just to his age, is a fair question. The instant insertion of Damien Wilkins into the rotation at the expense of Teague and Jordan Crawford makes me lean toward the latter.

How much of that is prejudice, how much is personal failing, and how much is the organization again failing to commit to an experienced coach and to give that coach long-term job security? This may be Drew's only shot at a head coaching job and it's a difficult job he was given (improve on 53 wins with the exact same team). He may not be comfortable risking this shot on the development curves of Teague (who his predecessor held back) and Crawford the Younger.

I don't agree with that fear but I empathize. I also empathize with the likelihood that, to his employers, Drew playing Damien Wilkins a lot of minutes is considered good coaching. That has to influence his decisions.