Monday, December 20, 2010

New Jersey Nets 89 Atlanta Hawks 82



Hoopdata boxscore


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
NJ 95
0.937 44

The Hawks lost because they turned the ball over too often, because they missed too many open shots, because too many of those shots were jump shots, because of poor perimeter defense both predictable (no Atlanta guard could stay in front of Devin Harris) and unpredictable (Mike Bibby turned Sasha Vujacic into a reasonably effective offensive player), because the bench is impotent offensively in the absence of Jamal Crawford, because Larry Drew was willing to play Josh Powell* and Jason Collins at center in the fourth quarter, because Josh Smith literally ducked closing out on Travis Outlaw as Outlaw attempted a corner three with 2:31 left in the game, and because Larry Drew is more apt to make sure that either Bibby (19 points on 15 shots, plus 5 turnovers) or Joe Johnson (14 points on 16 field goal and 6 free throw attempts) is on the court than that either Al Horford or Josh Smith is on the court.

*The Teague/Evans/Wilkins/Powell plus either Bibby or Johnson lineups that allowed the Nets to wrest control of the game at the top of the fourth quarter defies explanation.

It would be an exaggeration to blame any one of the above flaws for the loss so, in the interest of fairness, I'll focus on two in greater depth.

1) Reliance on jump shots to score

48 of Atlanta's 74 field goal attempts were jump shots taken outside the paint and their scoring tracked fairly closely to their success in making those shots.


Yes, the Hawks are typically a jump shooting team but not to this degree. They're the fourth-most likely NBA team to take a long two-point jumper but (partly due to attempting fewer shots per game than the average NBA team) are not prone to taking a high percentage of three-point shots or jumpers inside of 15 feet.

2) Larry Drew's belief that Josh Powell is a reasonable NBA rotation player

Josh Powell played 12:24 of the game and the Hawks were outscored by 14 points while he was on the floor. Though extreme in its degree, that the Hawks were inhibited by Powell playing should come as no surprise. Entering the game, the Hawks had been outscored by 7 points per 100 possessions when Powell was on the floor and were 12.4 points per 100 possessions better with Powell off the court. Again, Powell was similarly ineffective in previous seasons with previous teams.

Larry Drew:
"We were looking to get more in the paint. We tried to post and they were coming on the double team, which we were already prepared for. That was a situation where we were settling from the outside when we should have tried to put the ball on the floor more to get more drive-and-kick situations. We had some open looks and they just didn’t fall tonight."
Joe Johnson on his 9-30 shooting (2-12 from beyond the arc) since returning to action:
"It’s not going to come back overnight. I just have to take my time."
"..and the bulk of the team's shots," he did not add.

More from Johnson:
"In the first quarter, we had good ball movement. We were getting into the teeth of the defense and making the game easy. After that, for whatever reason, we stopped doing that."
Drew on Johnson:
"It will probably take another game or two for him to get into a rhythm. Early he was explosive and really making some nice plays. He kind of got cold again and couldn’t get it going again."
Mike Bibby:
"They were running the same plays and it took us a while to catch on to them. They were running pick-and-rolls, getting mismatches, spreading us out."
Those tricky pick-and-rolls. As Michael Cunningham points out, it's not exactly an unusual opposition strategy against the Hawks:
When winning time arrived, the Nets did to the Hawks what any team with competent pick-and-roll guards can do: Get dribble penetration then take advantage when the defense scrambles. Good shots usually will be available against the Hawks in those situations and then it becomes a matter of making them. The Nets made enough to win.
Kris Willis on playing poor defensive guards for 84 minutes:
[T]he Hawks real an inability to defend night in and night out. I don't like Mike Bibby playing 43 minutes and I am unsure of Johnson playing 41 minutes after being out so long but can an argument really be made with the way the bench played today? Maybe Jeff Teague makes a lot of sense as Devin Harris was carving up the Hawks early but Bibby was one of the few Hawks that was making shots and coach Drew has said time and time again that he wants shot makers on the floor late.Would Teague have been able to get the Hawks into the offense?
Teague getting smacked in the face (no call) a minute and twelve seconds in to the fourth quarter forced Bibby to play a few extra minutes.

On opening night, Mike Bibby helped lay the groundwork for Mike Conley, Jr.'s contract extension, yesterday, he helped Sasha Vujacic make a new friend. Devin Kharpertian at Nets Are Scorching:
Look, I don’t want to like Sasha. He’s been an inside joke among me & some friends for a long time. But fast don’t lie, and Sasha is growing on me fast. His hustle is certainly appreciated – he’s getting quick open looks on offense and he’s racking up steals on the defensive end. I’ve made a lot of fun of him since the trade, but I can’t be upset at his contributions today. Here are two examples:

1) At the end of the third quarter, the Nets had the ball with seven seconds remaining and Troy Murphy threw the ball out of bounds. On Atlanta’s inbounds, Sasha poked the ball away, ran it down, and threw it to Devin for a potential buzzer-beater. That sort of hustle is definitely appreciated on a team that desperately needs it.

2) On his first pick & roll with Favors in the fourth quarter, Sasha found Favors at the rim for a layup and-1 to put the Nets up 69-64. Maybe Farmar can learn something from him.

All in all, Sasha finished with 10 points, six rebounds, three steals, three assists, one bloodied lip (which he played through all game) and a game high +/- of +23.


Unknown said...

Its amazing the way they talk... JJ was shooting just as terribly before the surgery... actually he was shooting just as terribly this whole season AND last year's playoffs... Why does everyone talk about him like he just needs to find his rhythm?

Adam Malka said...

I'm officially on the "Larry Drew has no clue what he's doing" bandwagon now. Didn't take long. But the substitution patterns, the inability to coach to the team's strengths and away from the team's weaknesses, and his general comments following games has left me cold. Of course, it doesn't help that the team seems to be populated by guys equally as clueless, save for Horford.

jrauch said...

If this team is .500 at the All-Star break, what's more likely to hapen, a trade shaking up the roster, or firing this idiot of a coach?