Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Philadelphia 76ers 105 Atlanta Hawks 100


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR%

PHI 86
1.221 54.8


In a nice change of pace, I had some very complementary and pleasant comments prepared. Then the fourth quarter happened, and I have to return to two persistent and recurring themes.

The jump shots stopped falling and the Hawks stopped scoring.

The Hawks made one jump shot between 3:17 of the third quarter and 2:15 of the fourth quarter. At 3:17 of the third quarter, Josh Smith's 19-footer* put the Hawks up 77-66. At 2:15 of the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson's 18-footer cut the Philadelphia lead to 99-90. The Hawks scored 13 points over more than a quarter's worth of playing time. What makes it so frustrating (this time) is that, in the first half, the Hawks did an excellent job of complementing their jump shooting with transition buckets and trips to the free throw line. Over the final fifteen minutes, both of those elements disappeared from Atlanta's offensive attack.

*Smith's 33 points broke down thusly: 3-8 outside of 16 feet (including a three-pointer), 1-2 on foul line jumpers, and 9-11 (plus 6-7 from the free throw line) inside of 10 feet.

The Hawks scored 12 of their 20 fourth quarter points in the final 2:15, after they'd fallen behind by more than 10 points and victory was highly improbable. Heck, 6 of Atlanta's 20 fourth quarter points came after they'd essentially given up by not fouling down seven with less than 45 seconds left.

Over the first 9:45 of the fourth quarter, Al Horford scored four points on three shots. Josh Smith scored two points (with the bucket assisted by Horford) on four shots. Joe Johnson scored two points on two shots. Jamal Crawford and Zaza Pachulia were both scoreless on two shots each.

Poor defense put tremendous pressure on the Atlanta offense in the fourth quarter.

Clearly, the fourth quarter against Denver, the end of the second and third quarters against Detroit, and the second quarter against the Bulls last night have done nothing to dissuade Larry Drew from playing Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson together in the backcourt. Nor did their fourth quarter offensive ineffectiveness appear likely to curtail either their playing time or their touches.

After the Hawks struggled to get stops for several minutes with that pair attempting to defend on the perimeter, Drew replaced Marvin Williams with Kirk Hinrich and broke out a new kind of ineffective zone defense, a 1-3-1/1-2-2 hybrid with Hinrich at the zone's point, Johnson and Crawford lost somewhere on the wings, and one of Josh Smith or Al Horford defending at the free throw line and unable to help protect the basket.

Defense was a problem throughout the game* for the Hawks, mostly in familiar ways. Watch how often the Hawks switch on screens (on- or off-the-ball) seemingly on impulse rather than by design. When the ball goes in the post, watch perimeter players sag to a spot where they're neither double-teaming the ball nor in position to close out on a spot-up shooter. Watch how often, in transition, a bigger Hawk stops at the three-point line and waves an in-position Kirk Hinirch off the opposing ball-handler, forcing Hinrich to go chase down his teammate's nominal defensive responsibility.

*It was 59-53 at halftime. In a 43 possession game.

Five individuals wearing matching uniforms can fairly easily and frequently create opportunities to take jump shots. Five individuals wearing matching uniforms cannot play good defense. Over the last five games the Hawks have allowed 115.9, 121.8, 114.3 (this in their win over the Pistons), 132.6, and 122.1 points per 100 possessions.


Bronnt said...

Clearly there's a lot to talk about, but I'm surprised you haven't had anything to say about the rotation over the past 5 games. That is, essentially dropping down 7 players, none of whom are Jeff Teague, unless it's garbage time. Damien Wilkins in the 8th man in a specialty role.

A response to Drew's concept of "defining roles?"

Bret LaGree said...

Bronn --

At this point, I feel like writing about the rotation as if it's a real, stable, and sensible thing is a fool's errand. It'll change again soon enough and, if the Hawks do hold on to the fifth seed, does anyone think that Jason Collins won't be a starter in the playoffs?

Drew bent over backwards to use the bench early in the season despite its obvious limitations. Now, as the season slips away and when at least three guys (Smith, Horford, and Hinrich) are playing hurt, he shrinks what should be a fairly straightforward nine-man rotation down to seven guys.

I guess I've become inured to things Larry Drew does that I don't understand and suspect have no real explanation.

jrauch said...

I thought the post-game quotes from Larry were laughable. Same lame excuses about lack of fourth quarter effort.

Seriously guys, its been three years now the coaching staff has harped on the "we just need to put 48 good minutes together" theme.

It ain't gonna happen. Not with this bunch.

What's even more maddening to me is Josh Smith's stat line shows what he could do if anyone held him accountable to play within 10 feet of the basket.

M said...


Is it realistic that LD will be fired after a quick 1st rd exit? It seems that ownership will not stand for all these blowouts at home, etc. If so, who are our options for a new head coach?

Bret LaGree said...

M --

Reportedly, Larry Drew will be owed approximately $1.5 million from ASG whether he coaches the team or not. How that relates ownership's ability to stomach losses (losses by the exact team ownership wished to have, mind you), I couldn't predict.

Likely candidates to replace Drew would figure to be Lester Conner, Bob Bender, Kenny Gattison, or an assistant from whichever team wins the NBA Championship. Keep in mind the Hawks haven't hired a head coach with previous NBA head coaching experience since 1993.