Saturday, April 23, 2011

Atlanta Hawks 88 Orlando Magic 84




Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR%

ATL 81
1.086 45.7

Since a lot had to go right on Atlanta's final offensive possession to secure victory in Game

Jamal Crawford:
"I just tried to get to my comfort zone, my sweet spot. I felt pretty good getting there. I thought I got a good look, and it just happened to go down for me."
Larry Drew:
"I was hoping he would attack the basket. He was two or three feet behind the 3-point line. I didn't know if it was going in or not. I was just pretty relieved that it did go down."
Dwight Howard:
"I think Jamal Crawford's shot was lucky and an angel had to be sitting next to him when he let that one go, but he hits tough shots."
Since one thing had to go very right at the very end of Atlanta's final offensive possession to secure victory in Game 3, it's instructive to remember all the Hawks had to overcome to be in position for Jamal Crawford's prayer to get answered:
  • Jason Collins injuring himself while flopping
  • Zaza Pachulia crossing the line from irritant to participant in the 2011 equivalent of a fight (the definition of headbutt appears to have expanded to include "touching foreheads" as well) in a playoff game
  • Lots of iso-Al
  • Joe Johnson's 1-10 shooting in the second half
  • Josh Smith making a heel turn into a spot-up shooter and purveyor of wild passes out of bounds
  • Orlando making a greater number (8) and high percentage (28.6%) of their three-point shots than in the first two games of the series
  • The reappearance of Josh Powell late in the second quarter, surely just coincidentally coinciding with Atlanta's biggest lead of the game getting halved in less than two minutes
The Atlanta Hawks are only playing consistently well on one end of the floor (and then only when fielding a five-man unit capable of executing the sound defensive game plan) but, even that limited, consistent success marks them superior to an Orlando Magic team that, Dwight Howard (and for one half of six, Jameer Nelson) excepted, has struggled to score and been just susceptible enough to dribble penetration from Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson that the Atlanta guards have created enough good shots to augment their abilities to make difficult shots and to overcome their own team's (self-inflicted) defensive lapses.

You don't have to play well to win a playoff series if you make (and let) the other team play worse.

The Hawks had some excellent possessions on both ends of the floor in the final minute. At NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruit looks at two of them. First, Al Horford's go-ahead bucket features beautiful player movement, ball movement, and spacing, three things lacking from most of Atlanta's second-half offensive possessions. Next, take a gander at Orlando's subsequent offensive possession for a vision of what Atlanta's defense might look like if the team's highest paid player didn't stop moving once he switches on a ball-screen. Also pictured, the more familiar sight of Al Horford chasing and harassing an opposing ball-handler (Hedo Turkoglu, in this case) all over the court, post-switch.

Stan Van Gundy on the culmination of that Orlando possession:
"It was a horrible shot."
Evan Dunlap on Zaza Pachulia, the fight, and possible repercussions:
[F]ormer Magic center Zaza Pachulia gave Howard almost all he could handle in the low post, forcing Howard to work exceptionally hard for each field goal attempt. And he managed to do it without sending Howard to the foul line too often.

And Pachulia may have swung the balance of the series more during an altercation with Richardson in the fourth period. Pachulia took an elbow from Howard--I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not, but it's worth noting Howard was not facing Pachulia when it happened--after fouling him hard under the basket. Pachulia shouted in frustration, Richardson apparently took exception to what was said, and the two shoved each other before their teammates stepped in. Richardson used his left hand to shove Pachulia in the face, which is sure to result in at least a one-game suspension. You may recall Quentin Richardson received a two-game suspension for a similar exchange with Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson late in the regular season.

Jason Richardson and Pachulia are guaranteed to miss Game 4 on Sunday, though the league has yet to announce an official punishment. Howard's status is less clear. He earned a one-game suspension during the 2009 Playoffs for throwing an elbow at Samuel Dalembert, though in that instance he clearly intended to harm the Philadelphia 76ers center.
At Peachtree Hoops, Jason Walker on the oddity of the familiar Hawks having a 2-1 lead in a playoff series:
There were all there, in alarming number. All the things the Hawks fail to do, all the things the Hawks shouldn't do, all of the things that have cost them games time and time again were all over the Philips Arena floor tonight.

The Magic forced the Hawks into all of their bad habits and it's still 2-1, ATL.


Jerry Hinnen said...

Not that I want in any way to be fair to Josh Powell, but to be fair to Josh Powell, the biggest problem during those last two minutes of the first half was Jeff Teague. He didn't come close to staying in front of Nelson, letting him drive-and-kick for back-to-back threes. And then he fouled Howard late in the shot clock uselessly digging at the ball. He finished -6 in his two minutes, and the only reason it wasn't -8 was because Smith hit a jump shot.

Of course, if Larry Drew either a) had made an effort to develop Teague over the course of the season to the point where he wouldn't have been overwhelmed by his sudden appearance in a playoff game b) had simply left him on the bench in favor of Hinrich, who I assume sat because he was carrying two fouls, that wouldn't have happened.

Still, it's disappointing.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Whoops, I confused the end of the first quarter (when Teague played) with the end of the half. The point about his brief appearance still stands, but he didn't share the court with Powell.

Apologies. Please resume the Powell hate to its fullest.

jrauch said...

I think we're easily seeing the worst aggregate basketball effort in this series out of any of the playoff series so far this year.

Its unbearable watching the Hawks hoist up 20 footers with 17 seconds left on the shot clock, and only one Magic player who appears not to be some sort of corpse playing the game.

Whoever advances likely won't last long in round two, assuming of course Derrick Rose is fully healthy.