Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Orlando Magic 88 Atlanta Hawks 82


Poss Off Eff eFG% FT Rate OR%

ORL 86
1.023 37.8

No team deserves to win a playoff game when they put Josh Powell in before three minutes have passed. If that misappropriation of resources (and even categorizing Josh Powell as a resource seems wrong) fails to explain how quickly the good feelings engendered by Game 1 evaporated, take a gander at the shots the Hawks made in building their first quarter lead:
  • Joe Johnson from 13-feet after having his first attempt blocked
  • Josh Smith 8-foot hook shot over two defenders
  • Kirk Hinrich 19-footer
  • Kirk Hinirch 21-footer off the dribble
  • Joe Johnson 31-footer as the shot clock expires
  • Jamal Crawford three-pointer from the top of the key (assisted by Josh Smith from the post)
  • Josh Smith three-pointer
  • Josh Smith jump hook from the right block
  • Jamal Crawford fall-away 28-footer at the first quarter buzzer
That's a lot of work for 22 points. (Note the absence of free throws.) Another coach might choose to count his blessings and get his best player back on the floor. Larry Drew decided to keep Al Horford on the bench for the entire second quarter and maximize Orlando's chances of winning.

Get this: Al Horford played the entire second half and finished the game with two personal fouls.

Also note: Dwight Howard played the entire game despite committing (gasp!) five fouls.

The Hawks, even after the intentional fouling, played the Magic even in the second half. Orlando outscored the Hawks by 12 during the second quarter, in which Al Horford did not play, Zaza Pachulia (8 rebounds in 19 minutes, finished with 4 fouls) played 22 seconds, Jason Collins (purported Dwight Howard stopper, finished with 3 fouls) played 3:38, fourth- or fifth-string center Hilton Armstrong (1 offensive rebound, 1 turnover, 3 fouls) played 6:33, and the aforementioned career-long and rightfully (albeit previously) demoted incompetent Josh Powell spent 2:11 on the floor en route to one foul and one offensive rebound. Dwight Howard scored 20 second quarter points.

The second quarter didn't finish off the Hawks, the other eight Magic players, who made just 18-66 shots from the field, saw to that despite Atlanta using 11 of 16 third quarter field goal attempts on jump shots (making two, as well as two of the five shots attempted in the paint plus three whole free throws) and not really coming alive until the fourth quarter was more than half over, futilely cutting a 12-point Orlando lead to two with 2:14 before letting Orlando score on consecutive possession with a long, unsuccessful, jump shot-resultant possession occurring in between.

It's difficult to argue that Orlando absolutely didn't play better than in Game 1. Perhaps, the volume of Atlanta jump shots were contested to a greater degree than is perceptible to the human eye. Certainly, they sent the Hawks to the line less often. Still, the Magic, Dwight Howard excepted, were woeful offensively and Howard scored 20 of his 33 points in the second quarter, 17 of those points with Atlanta's top three centers on the bench, three centers who finished the game having committed nine fouls between them, and no more than four fouls committed by any one of them.

As impressive and enjoyable as the Game 1 victory was, two concerns lingered: the probably unsustainable percentage of jump shots the Hawks made (unofficially, I have the Hawks 7-23 from 16-23 feet* and, thus, 40.7 eFG% outside of 16 feet once three-pointers are accounted for) and Larry Drew's tactical personnel decisions. In Game 2, the Hawks shot much worse and had a chance to win despite Larry Drew. It was a terribly wasted opportunity but, if Drew can either commit to playing his best players until they are disqualified or not play his worst players until absolutely necessary, the Hawks, in possession of home court advantage, can still conceivably win this series. Which is rather amazing considering they were outscored over the course of the 82 game season and their head coach either didn't try his hardest or proved himself obscenely incompetent in one half of their playoff games.

*That's 28.4% of Atlanta's shots being used on long, two-point jumpers. Less than in Game 1 and less than their season average.


Jerry Hinnen said...

I was hoping for the right term from you, Bret, to describe Drew's performance tonight. "Obscenely incompetent" is just about perfect. Thanks.

Not that -- as you've pointed out on many occasions -- Hawks management isn't getting exactly the level of competence they're paying for.

Unknown said...

After seeing Joe get to the free throw line early in game one and talk about how that was part of his mindset for this game I guess it was too much to expect it would happen again. I don't understand why they don't try and get to the free throw line more.

Bronnt said...

All Drew can hang his hat on is that nobody fouled out. Good thing we dodged that bullet.

jrauch said...

The NBA TV feed had the Orlando announcing crew calling the game.

I thought it was particularly interesting they were openly mocking Larry Drew's coaching decisions, namely the "sit Al Horford for nearly the entire first half" bit.

Matt Goukas said it was "a complete waste of 22 minutes" by Drew.

Bronnt said...

Another thought:

Drew talked about his team struggling on the boards, but in the second half, when none of his bigs ended up in foul trouble, the Hawks out rebounded the Magic.

Adam Malka said...

I couldn't watch the game, but simply reading about it afterwards--and reading Drew's comments--has made me feel ill. I knew the other shoe would drop after Game 1. And I feared Drew would take away from the victory that it was acceptable to play Powell and Armstrong on Howard in Game 2. He is such dull, dull man.