Monday, March 07, 2011

New York Knicks 92 Atlanta Hawks 79



Hoopdata boxscore


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR% TO%
NY 87
20.6 16.1
ATL 87 0.908 48.6

If the comeback victory over the Chicago Bulls demonstrated the interconnectedness of offense and defense, then last night's home loss to the New York Knicks demonstrated that, in the short-term, the act of creating open shots can mean little if those open shots aren't made.

During the Baseball Analytics panel at Sloan, Tom Tippett of the Boston Red Sox spoke (generally) about his efforts to evaluate process rather than results. The idea being that much can go right for a player or a team despite an unsuccessful end result and vice versa. If one defines process as the sum of the acts that led to the a player taking a shot, then, process-wise, the Hawks and Knicks were essentially equal last night. The Knicks won by 13 points because they were far more effective in the act of taking shots. And there's a reason that eFG% is the most important of the four factors.

There were reasons the Hawks lost beyond not making good shots. Al Horford missing six of eight shots hurts worse when Josh Smith takes eight jump shots (making two, one of which was a three-pointer) and the Hawks further squandered their margin for error by turning the ball over on 24.1% of their possessions and getting to the free throw line just nine times.

The Knicks deserve credit for increasing their own likelihood of making open shots. In their decisive fourth quarter run, New York neutralized the defensive impact of Al Horford and Josh Smith by forcing them to close out on three-point shooters.

Plus, it must be acknowledged that the Knicks were without Chauncey Billups and Ronny Turiaf for the entire game and with Carmelo Anthony seeing double for the better part of three quarters. This was a game the Hawks probably should have won and they didn't. It was a bad result but, generally, the process was sound (especially in terms of the team's inescapable and long-standing limitations) and, over time, sound process will lead to good results more often than not.

Larry Drew:
"Right now, we’re in disarray. We’re not playing with the type of confidence and the type of swagger we should be playing with at home. And that’s a very disturbing thing."
The post rotation provides the best evidence of top-to-bottom disarray by a wide margin. Jason Collins doesn't play unless he starts, Zaza Pachulia's production and playing time have become dissociated to near-Teaguian proportions, Josh Powell is brought off the bench about once a month to remind Drew that he can't play, a process Hilton Armstrong likely (hopefully?) began last night.

Al Horford:
"They moved the ball well, making big shots. I think we became real stagnant on offense. I think it carried over to the defensive end."
Amar'e Stoudemire on the Atlanta crowd:
"It felt like a home game in the fourth quarter."


Zoe said...

Hawks are in danger of losing that coveted #5 slot to the surging Knicks now. Tho, the way this team is playing (and, historically, is stymied by playoff-intensity defensive pressure), does it really matter whether they play the HEAT or the MAGIC in the 1st round? Really?

jrauch said...

I really can't see a scenario where the Hawks get out of the first round, absent Dwight Howard being suspended from the playoffs, or the Heat staying in the locker room to cry together for four games.