Sunday, March 20, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 104 Detroit Pistons 96


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 84
1.238 57.9

The Hawks scored a lot of points against a bad defense. That's a lot better than not scoring a lot of points against a bad defense but, even as the Hawks took care of business and moved closer to securing the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference, the tendencies that cause the Atlanta offense to struggle so frequently against better competition were obvious.

Against the league's third-worst defense, offensive opportunities were plentiful enough that the Hawks could easily overcome a general, persistent sense of being out-of-sync offensively. If a shooter spotted up but was unready to shoot when the ball arrived, there was a good chance another open shot could be found before the possession ended. Despite passing up open shots fairly regularly, the Hawks didn't commit a single shot clock violation (though two three-second violations resulted from the team not taking the first available shot). Somewhat similarly, Kirk Hinrich's efforts to push the ball up the court often provided more in the way of good intentions than easy buckets as his teammates appeared unprepared for him passing ahead.

Because Hinrich is new to the team and because the Hawks do not currently have anything approaching a set rotation, these problems could plausibly diminish as the team gets more time playing alongside its new point guard (and vice versa) or if Larry Drew commits to playing the nine plausible NBA players at his disposal in regular combinations.

It seems far less plausible that the Hawks will become competent (much less proficient) at feeding the post. Whether this team-wide inability either to establish a good angle from which to feed the post or recognize whether the post player is open or not is a function of the team's general reluctance to play through the post or the reason why the team doesn't play through the post more often, I don't know, but there are 27 teams in the league more capable of making that weakness a detriment than the Pistons.

The committed effort to play through the post made this offensive explosion not just an example of the Hawks making jump shots. Al Horford turned 11 shots and 9 free throws into 18 points and had sufficient touches to complement his scoring with six assists against three turnovers. Zaza Pachulia, apparently, finally, ensconced as the team's third big man, bettered Horford by making 10 trips to the foul line. Six of Joe Johnson's 13 field goal attempts came inside of six feet.

A commitment to getting the ball inside, at least as a complement to the team's inherent jump shooting tendencies, might be necessary to consolidate the gains the team has made in swapping Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich. Despite the very obvious improvement in general and Hinrich's excellent work on Richard Hamilton today, the Hawks remain exploitable whenever the Hawks do not have a point guard on the floor. The ends of both the second and third quarters today demonstrated that Larry Drew does not consider the fourth quarter of the Denver loss a warning of the dangers of using Jamal Crawford and Zaza Pachulia to defend the pick-and-roll.

1 comment:

jrauch said...

Could we just change Jeff Teague's name to DNP-Coach's Decision on a full time basis?

Also, would it be a bad time to note Jordan Crawford scored 21 points on 17 shots and 5 free throws for the Wizards last night? Sure, it was against the Nets, but how could this guy not crack the Hawks rotation?