Sunday, April 17, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 103 Orlando Magic 93



Hoopdata boxscore


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR%

ORL 88
1.057 49.3

A tremendous win for the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, that degree of jump shooting accuracy is unlikely to be sustainable for another game but neither can Dwight Howard (for an entire game) nor Jameer Nelson (for another half) be expected to be so simultaneously tremendous again for the Magic, especially if Larry Drew can resist the temptation to ask Josh Powell and Etan Thomas to defend Howard for a 12-minute stretch of the first half or leave Kirk Hinrich on the bench* for a ten-and-a-half minute stretch of the second half so Nelson can enjoy the freedom** of being guarded by Jamal Crawford.

*Safely, sadly assuming that playing Jeff Teague is not an option.

**Nelson scored 15 of his 23 second-half points in the five-and-a-half minutes Hinrich wasn't on the floor against him.

What makes this win tremendous is the location (The Hawks won six games all season on the road against teams with winning records, just two of those wins coming after December 7, 2010.) and the manner. The Hawks beat the Magic with offense, which suggests that I was wrong in my pre-series assessment that the Hawks had but one way in which to beat Orlando.

Nobody ever said the Atlanta Hawks looked bad when they make jump shots and, when the other shoe dropped* in the fourth quarter, the Orlando Magic remained a discombobulated two-man gang** unable to bridge the 14-point gap the Hawks created through three quarters.

*The Hawks made 1-9 shots outside of 16 feet in the fourth quarter which makes the 18 points they scored, by going 5-10 inside of 15 feet and getting to the line eight times, something of an accomplishment.

**Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson scored 41 of Orlando's 45 second half points and it's not like they did so by using every offensive possession. Their teammates were 2-14 from the floor and committed four turnovers in the second half.

Let's bring back a chart for the series preview to examine where the Hawks scored Saturday night. The first two rows show the season averages for Atlanta and for Orlando's opponents. The third row shows Atlanta's totals from Game 1:

Teamat rim
3-15 feet
16-23 feet


ORL (opp)24.86324.13928.637.722.552.4
Game 1

That's far from ideal shot distribution but the volume and quality of shots the Hawks took inside of 15 feet (plus the 29 free throws the Hawks, the Hawks!, attempted in the game) provides some encouragement the offense won't wither and die when they stop making more than half their shots outside of 16 feet. Though I suspect there will be more quarters in the remainder of the series where the Hawks score in the teens than in the thirties.

Also encouraging were two things written too rarely in this space this season: Josh Smith's shot selection and Joe Johnson's aggressive offensive play. Smith used just 2 of his 12 field goal attempts on shots in between the paint and the three-point line and made seven trips to the free throw line. Johnson took 9 of his 16 shots inside of 15 feet, got to the line 8 times himself, and used his ability to make long, difficult shots more often to bail out the Hawks on difficult offensive possessions than as the basis for difficult offensive possessions.


Bret LaGree said...

All comments existing solely to promote your blog will be deleted. If you want me to read something, please send me an e-mail.

Xavier said...

Brett do you think a serviceable center ultimately makes the Hawks a better team against all teams? I really wonder if Collins or free agent at C, Horford at PF, Smoove at SF w/ Marvin coming off the bench is route the team should go for the rest of the playoffs and next season.
Also will you live blog during Tuesday game?

Bret LaGree said...

Xavier --

Possibly, but that serviceable center should be Pachulia rather than a free agent given the Hawks' cap situation will probably be tight no matter what happens with the CBA.

If the Hawks trust Pachulia, Marvin, and Teague to play as their 5 through 7 guys (with their minutes in any given game depending on matchups) they could plausibly build a decent, cheap bench assuming they don't choose to carry five centers on an (effectively) 13-man roster again next season.

Bret LaGree said...

Almost forgot, no live coverage from me on Tuesday, work will interfere.

Anonymous said...

The win was great but I don't think the Hawks can win this series with a coach who plays Josh Powell 7+ mins in the first half and stupidly sits Smoov because of his 2 foul rule, I would also like to see Marvin play a lil more than he did

jrauch said...

Someone mind explaining to Larry Drew that Jamal Crawford can't defend a street light, much less Jameer Nelson?

I felt like that decision, rather than playing Teague when Hinrich was on the bench, was the sole reason Nelson woke up and decided to be a basketball player again.