Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Heat Index: Arnovitz/Haberstroh: Atlanta at Heat, 5 Things to Watch

There are no surprises (Joe Johnson's healthy, the Hawks struggle to defend in transition and to prevent dribble penetration) in this typically astute preview assembled by Kevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh for The Heat Index. Most interesting to Hawks fans may be the spreading knowledge of Atlanta's struggles against zone defenses:
Erik Spoelstra isn't a coach predisposed toward using a zone defense for extended stretches, but desperation forced his hand during the final two games of the road trip, when the Heat struggled to guard man-to-man. "I felt helpless, I had nothing else and had to throw a prayer out there," Spoelstra said. Curiously enough, the Hawks struggle against zone defenses, and were thoroughly frustrated by -- yes -- Toronto's zone last Wednesday when they barely squeaked by the Raptors. The Hawks can be an impatient offensive unit and the zone feeds into their propensity to stagnate. They're good-not-great on the pick-and-roll (Horford the exception), and their starting point guard isn't going to break down a defense or penetrate the zone. Against the Bulls and Nuggets, the Heat's zone was a lender of last resort, but against the Hawks it might help the Heat contend with Horford's post-up game and crafty basket cuts.

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