Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Denver Nuggets 100 Atlanta Hawks 90

Boxscore

Gameflow

Highlights

Team
Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
ATL 90
1.000
41.2
23.5
21.3 10
DEN 90 1.111 50.6
18.3
17.5
6.7

Winning three of the seven games on this road trip did nothing to hurt the Hawks. The trade they made might well help the team. If Josh Smith's right knee is seriously injured, neither will matter much.

The Hawks lack depth. With Kirk Hinrich missing from the start of the game, one-third of the 12 players the Hawks dressed were Jason Collins, Josh Powell, Hilton Armstrong, and Etan Thomas. They had just three usable guards (one of which has earned 10 DNP-CDs this season), two small forwards (one of which was signed as a free agent in December and scores a point about once every 8-and-a-half possessions he's on the court), and three post players (one of which the organization seems determined not to use as the third man in the post rotation despite signing him to a multi-year deal less than two years ago). That's with Kirk Hinrich missing the game. Kirk Hinrich was the third guard for the Washington Wizards a week ago.

If Josh Smith misses a game, Larry Drew will almost certainly have to use Jason Collins (regardless of matchups) and Josh Powell (just because he's there). No matter how many jump shots Josh Smith takes (and it was five more in less than a half of basketball last night), that's a massive drop-off in quality.

As for this loss, mark it down to the Hawks still struggling to defend in transition (Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson were always as culpable as Mike Bibby on that score), struggling to stop dribble penetration (even when Hinrich returns he won't be able to guard more than one point of attack), the absolute failure of Marvin Williams (3 rebounds in 36:28) and Joe Johnson (3 rebounds, 2 of them offensive in 40:42) to pick up the rebounding slack in Smith's absence, and the inefficient scoring of Williams (13 points on 14 shots and 6 free throw attempts), Crawford (11 points* on 12 shots and 5 free throw attempts), and Joe Johnson (22 points on 22 shots, including going 0-4 from the field over the final 5:16).

*Even that modest total inflated by the prayer he made at the end of the first quarter.

The healthy Hawk players did what they could and, with the exception of Al Horford (21 points on 15 shots, 16 rebounds, 5 offensive, a team-leading 4 assists, and 2 of Atlanta's 3 steals), they're mostly capable of better than they offered on the back-end of a back-to-back at the end of a seven-game road trip that began prior to the All-Star break. But how much is the team capable of if, in the fourth quarter, Marvin Williams is the team's best healthy option at power forward and Larry Drew's options on the perimeter are the woefully inexperienced Jeff Teague or the one-dimensional Jamal Crawford or the (inversely) one-dimensional Damien Wilkins?

Larry Drew:
"The things we were concerned about coming into this game they completely took advantage of it."
Joe Johnson:
"We had bad floor balance, which is unlikely for us knowing we are playing a team that likes to get up and down the court. Knowing that if you didn’t shoot the ball, you have to get back. I messed up a few times on that and it costs us. Just boneheaded plays."
Josh Smith:
"When I went out after the first half, and then Kirk not being able to go I think it hurt us a lot."
Drew:
"When they started double-teaming Joe we tried to space the floor. This was one of those games where we could have used Kirk, could have used Josh Smith. Because one thing those guys can do is space the floor. We turned down some shots out of the double team which we can’t do. If they double team and you get an open look you’ve got to take the shot. We had some guys that were a little bit reluctant."
Josh Smith is never going to take fewer jump shots.

11 comments:

John said...

Larry Drew:

"This was one of those games where we could have used Kirk, could have used Josh Smith. Because one thing those guys can do is space the floor."

Yes, because that is the primary benefit this team gets from Josh Smith.

And if Kirk would have helped with his shooting, maybe we should have kept Bibby instead.

EFG% 16-23' EFG% 3's
37.0 67.1 Bibby
38.0 57.6 Hinrich

Let's ignore also that Bibby costs less this year and apparently didn't want to be paid at all next year.

Bret LaGree said...

John --

At this point, I'm fairly confident that the difference in shooting ability between Bibby and Hinrich is dwarfed by the difference in their defensive abilities.

Had Bibby played 34 minutes last night instead of Teague, even the flu wouldn't have been enough to marginalize Ty Lawson.

Bibby didn't want to play Washington. He would not have accepted a buyout from the Hawks.

bochurney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bochurney said...

I am tired of hearing about Josh Smith's jump shots. When he gets the ball with less than 5 seconds on the shot clock, what else do you expect? Do you want him to do like nearly everyone else on the team and keep playing hot potato until we throw up a prayer at the end of the clock?

Point: If people are going to continue slamming Josh's shot selection, can we at least mention that his teammates aren't exactly helping him out?

Bronn said...

bochurney:

It's worth noting exactly where on the floor he is when he's catching the ball. Is he driving in an attacking the basket? No, he's lingering on the perimeter, generally less close to the basket than Joe Johnson or Marvin Williams at the end of a possession. This results in him NOT doing the things that demand double teams, and on a bad shooting night, he's not even worth a single defender guarding him very closely. He's not in position to get offensive rebounds, and he won't create as many assists because his level of activity out of the perimeter is usually very lacking.

Additionally, 5 seconds is actually a lot for someone with the physical tools of an NBA player. Guys can drive the length of the floor and make lay-ups in less than 5 seconds. That's still actually time to quickly pass the ball to someone else, even two quick passes, and still get a shot up.

Bret LaGree said...

bochurney --

I have written about this issue at length and have made abundantly clear over the years that this is a problem both systemically and with Josh Smith.

No player is going to attempt no bad shots. Josh Smith would attempt fewer if he would demand the ball in the post, if Larry Drew called more plays for Josh Smith in the post, if the team rebounded better or forced more turnovers, or if Josh Smith were less stubborn.

45% of his field goal attempts this season are outside of 16 feet. He's improved to be a roughly league-average shooter from that range so far this season. He is far better than a league-average shooter at the rim, where he also gets fouled more often (and could take more often take advantage of his improved stroke at the free throw line), and where he creates more and better passing lanes to take advantage of his passing skills.

Josh Smith shooting jump shots is as much about Josh Smith proving he can shoot jump shots as it is about trying to maximize his abilities or helping the team win games.

Allowing Josh Smith to shoot jump shots is as much about the continued inability to find a decent backup for him in order to hold Smith's playing time accountable to his on-court performance, the lack of a point guard to create good shots for teammates, and an organizational affinity for jump shooting.

CoCo said...

The jump shooting has me unnerved. I appreciate that Al makes his jump shots at an impressive rate, but I'm very very concerned about that fact that he's become so much of a jump shooter. I'm not comfortable having a jump shooting center. Even if you were to make the argument that he's a pf, I'm still uncomfortable having him be primarily a jump shooter. Especially if he's the guy they've decided to hitch their wagon to for the next 5 years. Again, I'm glad he makes his shots, but it seems jumpshots are contagious and everyone on the team has caught it. Also, the other thing that bothers me about Al being the foundation for our team is how passive he is. There's no reason he shouldn't be getting 15-20 shots per night. He's their most efficient offensive player. There's no other player on this team who wants to shoot, and doesn't get his shot attempts. Al is supposedly the leader, yet he can't demand the ball. It's all concerning to me. I know Al is the one player we're never supposed to criticize, but whatever. Is it a good idea to build around someone who defers to lesser players when it matters most?

Adam said...

While I think Al Horford is absolutely a guy around whom you can build a championship team, I do think it's fair to criticize his shot selection and/or passivity. For instance, notwithstanding his excellent night, he didn't attempt a free throw against Denver until very late in the 4th.

My guess is that this owes as much to the system and Larry Drew's offense as it does to Horford himself. The Hawks are absolutely wretched at getting any of their good players the ball in the post. They just don't try to do it that often, and it's clear the sets are not designed for them to do so. Thus, even as Horford's interior game could admittedly use some improvement, neither he nor Josh Smith have the incentive to make those adjustments. Nobody is holding them accountable, and nobody seems interested in designing an offense that effectively goes through them.

Andrew said...

can we please pick up Corey Brewer?!?!?!?

Bret LaGree said...

Andrew --

Only if Corey Brewer is the guy for whom ASG has been waiting to acquire in order to go over the tax line.

pointguardslim said...

Horford's offense is predicated on Guard play pick and pops, mismatches, and all around guard play.

He's not that big a mismatch to get that many shots.

He says his offense has always been based on deferring.

@draftexpress says he's Amare minus the length! Trade him.