Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is There a Silver Lining to the Game 5 Loss?

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: almost entirely not.

There was one positive thing on display last night, and one needn't even look selectively or qualify it:
  • Al Horford and Josh Smith combined for 25 rebounds in less than 70 minutes of combined playing time.
It's difficult to imagine a circumstance wherein that achievement would necessitate a caveat. However, everything else the boxscore describes is either an accurate description of ineptitude or fool's gold.

Al Horford earned an assist on 6 of the 16 field goals his teammates made while he was on the court. Of those six assists, one resulted in a Zaza Pachulia layup to pull the Hawks within 20 points with 1:47 left in the first half. One resulted in a long two-pointer from Kirk Hinrich. One resulted in a Jamal Crawford three-pointer. The other three resulted in two long Josh Smith two-point jumpers and a Josh Smith three-pointer. Al's a good passer but iso-Al, at best, created slightly better than average jump shot opportunities for his teammates. Which brings us to the other two misleading items from the boxscore: Josh Smith's 22 points and Atlanta's 32 free throw attempts.

Josh Smith played 9:24 in the first quarter. He scored five points on six field goal and six free throw attempts. After taking (and missing) a 22-footer late in the shot clock on Atlanta's first offensive possession of the game, Smith took his next five shots inside of ten feet. He made one of those shots. A couple were good attempts that missed. A couple were taken right handed, and in desperation, after he failed to get to the basket going left. When Smith returned in the second quarter, the Hawks were down 19. Over the second and third quarters, Smith scored 17 points on 12 field goal and six more free throw attempts. His first two shots upon re-entering the game and 7 of those 12 field goal attempts would be taken at least 18 feet from the basket. Smith scored his points in a manner perfectly acceptable to the opposition, a manner that in no way could change the course of the game.

Similarly, the Hawks attempted an uncharacteristically large number of free throws but not so many of them before the game was decided. In the second quarter, the Atlanta Hawks attempted 19 field goals and not a single free throw. Of Atlanta's 22 second-half free throw attempts, 12 came in the final 12:48 of the game. Yes, poor defense and good Orlando shooting rendered the other 10 second-half free throw attempts pretty meaningless as well but, let me repeat, in the second quarter, the Atlanta Hawks attempted 19 field goals and not a single free throw. Larry Drew's response to falling behind early was to play his worst possible defensive backcourt and the players' response was to double-down on jump shots. The Hawks used 20 of their 38 first half field goal attempts outside of 16 feet. Only seven of those were three-point attempts. Another four shots were taken between 12 and 14 feet.

The loss was comprehensive and, in every way, a team effort.

1 comment:

Elliot said...

This one's for you.