|Team ||Poss||Off Eff||eFG%||FT Rate||OR%||TO%|
|ATL ||87 ||1.184 ||55.8 ||20.5 ||25 ||11.5 |
|CHI||86 ||1.105||49.4 ||15.7 ||25.6 ||12.8|
With the exception of a brief period early in the third quarter when the Chicago Bulls successfully isolated Joe Johnson on one side of the floor and Josh Smith took (and missed) three jump shots in three-and-a-half minutes, the Atlanta Hawks played a brand and quality of basketball that resembled what Larry Drew described this summer far more than that which they displayed during the bulk of the regular season. Had the Hawks, with any regularity, run motion offense at the pace and with the precision they demonstrated tonight against the league's best defense even the most pessimistic of observers wouldn't have predicted a series sweep.
The gold standard of Joe Johnson playoff performances has long been Game 4 of the Celtics series. Tonight's performance might have been better. Johnson's shot-making again drove his star performance but, just as impressively, he allowed the offensive system and his teammates to create easier scoring opportunities for him. The greatest frustration with Johnson has never been a lack of ability so much as his (and his coaches') stubborn insistence on making things difficult for himself. Not that the 84.2 TS% Johnson posted tonight represents a true talent level for a less dribble-heavy, less isolated Johnson but the foundation of some easy shots and a couple trips to the foul line transforms the more difficult shots Johnson can make at the end of otherwise unproductive possessions into daggers.
Now, the Hawks, even excepting Johnson, did make a lot of jump shots tonight as Jamal Crawford continued to score frequently and efficiently this playoff season. Jason Collins knocked down a couple
Given his lack of regular playing time over the past two seasons, Jeff Teague should probably be graded on a curve. But he needn't be. The 44:37 he played, the 10 points he scored on 11 shots (that 8 of those 11 came inside of 15 feet certainly contributed to the diverse offensive attack), the 5 assists he earned against a single turnover and the 27 shots Derrick Rose needed to score 24 points (even though the Bulls, as a whole, scored just as efficiently tonight against the Hawks as they did during the regular season) should earn the second-year point guard a passing grade on merit.
Johnson and Crawford's scoring success rendered Al Horford offensively peripheral in terms of shot attempts but his three offensive rebounds, four assists, and no turnovers complemented their efforts. At the other end of the floor, Horford's ten defensive rebounds were crucial as was his defense of the rim. Josh Smith ably assisted Horford on the latter count, blocking four shots as well as playing a key role in the consistent ball and player movement in the halfcourt offense in the first half and, when Smith appeared to have lost the plot in the second half, Zaza Pachulia played seven very solid minutes in relief, making a couple layups and grabbing five rebounds.
It was a team effort. An effort in service of a sound gameplan. Larry Drew should be proud on both counts. Though I suspect he'll be even happier with the energy the Hawks displayed. Energy that had early, tangible value. The Hawks didn't build their game-opening 9-0 lead through flawless execution. Two of their first four scoring possessions were sloppy and would have resulted in turnovers rather than points had the Hawks not been quicker than the Bulls to loose balls.
Energy, execution, shot-making. The streak is over. The Hawks lead the Bulls 1-0.