John Hollinger on the simple brutality of Atlanta's offensive attack:
Size matters in basketball, and in more subtle ways than you think. Take Atlanta’s win over Cleveland on Wednesday, a perfunctory 98-84 triumph that came about almost entirely because the Hawks’ wing players were several inches taller than Cleveland.Larry Drew:
The resulting attack wasn’t necessarily exhilarating, but it was highly effective. Atlanta posted Joe Johnson on the right block ... and then Marvin Williams on the left block … and then Joe on the left block … and back to the right block ... and so on.
Atlanta posted up the 6-foot-7 Johnson on Daniel Gibson (6-2) nearly every possession, and while Gibson is capable defender in other respects (my Cleveland spies said he’s the best team defender they have besides Anderson Varejao), he was no match for Johnson physically. Cleveland’s best hope would have been to put him on a medieval stretcher rack at halftime and have him come out of the locker room 6-5. Sadly, the players’ union frowns on such tactics.
Here’s the insidious part: Johnson himself didn’t have a monstrous game, as he finished with 23 points. But with Cleveland double-teaming on nearly every catch, it set the ball whirling around the perimeter to another open Hawk, inevitably leading to an open J for Williams (7 of 11, 17 points) or Al Horford (8 of 13, 18 points).
At the end of the night Johnson had seven assists and several more “hockey assists,” and the Hawks slowly wore down Cleveland’s resistance after a post-heavy attack produced only 17 first-quarter points for Atlanta.
"Certainly with Gibson or Williams on Joe, we thought that to be an advantage we should take advantage of at times."Joe Johnson, on making more than half his shots from the field for the first time since November 12th and for just the fifth time in 22 games this season:
"I haven’t really been feeling that rhythm pretty much all season for whatever reason. But tonight, I felt pretty good."Boobie Gibson on guarding Joe Johnson:
"I could be 6-9 and you're not going to stop those shots. Those were tough shots. He just got it going and got the separation they needed. You can't guard guys like that individually. It's more of a team effort."Josh Smith on Johnson:
"Joe came back without any practices, and he finally found the stroke. He played lights out tonight."Not that Johnson, even without practice and despite his quick return, is completely healed from his surgery:
"I still can't extend all the way. But I can come out with a free mind."Free your mind and your shots will follow.
Byron Scott, grading his team on a curve:
"It was another solid effort by our guys, but we ran into a little bit of a buzzsaw in the third quarter."