Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Initial Feedback: First Team To Seventy-Two Wins

Buddy Grizzard, who has formerly toiled as the sports editor for several small, local newspapers, has been a producer for CBS and Clear Channel radio and worked as a videographer for CBS Sports website, wrote the initial feedback for tonight's game.

Initial feedback: A completely subjective and immediate response to the events of tonight's game, featuring a comment and rating, the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, on every player who saw the floor and the head coach, along with ephemera and miscellany as the author deems necessary.

Your ratings and commentary, dear reader, are welcomed in the comments to this post.


Joe Johnson: After Tracy McGrady's quote following the win at Miami about fresh legs, I doubt either T-Mac or Joe will say the same following this fiasco. The Hawks clearly came out with a game plan to attack and take quick shots. Joe was hitting early but by the second quarter his J abandoned him. As the Hawks built their lead, Joe spent a lot of time covering Derrick Rose. Combined with the second game in as many nights against an elite opponent, you can understand why Joe looked tired by the end of this one. 4/10

Jeff Teague: This was Teague's chance to emerge as one of the top point guards in the Eastern Conference. You have to wonder if he read Larry Drew's quote saying Kirk Hinrich may start once he returns from injury. Teague looked so disinterested early on, and was so easily erased on picks all night, that Drew was forced to put Joe Johnson on Derek Rose for much of the first half. In the second half Drew hung Teague out to dry as Chicago isolated Rose at the top of the key over and over and let him run around Teague. On a 2-for-8 shooting night, given a chance to bail the Hawks out at the end, Jeff Teague missed two critical free throws. Questions about Teague's heart and desire are now inevitable. 3/10

Josh Smith: To understand Josh Smith's impact on this game is to recognize the disparity between the Hawks bench depth and Chicago's. Any time Josh went to the bench, Chicago attacked the basket relentlessly. The Hawks lead began to evaporate after Vladimir Radmanovic replaced Josh with 3:47 to play in the third. Josh interspersed the customarily ill-advised shots with strong post-ups and drives to the basket, but made enough jumpers to finish a respectable 6-for-13 from the field. He also had a game-high 14 rebounds. 7/10

Al Horford: Al Horford statistically had a decent night going 7-for-14 for 16 points and 7 boards as he posted up aggressively, attacked the basket and made an effort on defense. But he missed two critical free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter as he joined Teague and Smith in shooting 50% from the free throw line for the game. 6/10

Marvin Williams: Marv started out on fire, attacking the basket, hitting from outside and playing aggressive defense. But after 3 early baskets Drew quickly subbed McGrady in for him with 5:07 to play in the first. McGrady's strong early season seems to have encouraged Drew to play Williams shorter minutes despite his own strong early season. 7/10

Tracy McGrady: One night after T-Mac’s statement game against Miami, where he buried the reigning Eastern Conference champs with three fourth-quarter threes, he had a mostly-ineffective 1-for-4 night for 2 points. Although he added 6 rebounds, he joined the rest of the bench unit in averaging a +/- around -9. All of the starters posted positive +/- numbers. 4/10

Jannero Pargo: After his huge fourth quarter three last night against Miami, Pargo hit another big one as the Hawks built their lead. But it would be his only basket of the night and he couldn’t stay in the same area code trying to guard Rose. 3/10

Willie Green: Green actually had a decent night shooting the ball going 2-for-4 for 4 points in only 8 minutes. But on a night when the Hawks could have used another strong bench performance, Drew clearly shortened his rotation due to the bench’s overall poor performance. 4/10

Zaza Pachulia: Last night against Miami, Zaza entered the game in the fourth quarter with 10:51 to play and the Hawks trailing 71-70. After a layup (T-Mac assist) and a pair of free throws by Zaza, sandwiched around a Pargo 4-footer, Horford re-entered the game with 8:36 to play, the bench mob having delivered a 76-72 lead. Tonight, the Hawks' best bench player in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year played 8 ineffective minutes, going a scoreless 0-for-3 and grabbing one rebound. 2/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: After a hot shooting start to the season, Vlad has cooled down considerably, going 1-for-4 for 3 points in 13 minutes. He continues to show a decent overall floor game, chipping in a pair of assists, but as mentioned Chicago rallied when Vlad replaced Smith in the lineup. 3/10

The head coach
Larry Drew is quite capable of drawing up game winning plays. If you don’t believe me, see the evidence here:

He got a ton of credit for the zone defense that flustered the Miami Heat last night and contributed to an early statement win for the Hawks. Given the chance to build on that, the Hawks started strong against Chicago, mixing man-to-man with a 1-3-1 zone that forced the Bulls into a shot clock violation after their own timeout with 7:18 to play in the first. Seeing Teague’s poor body language and barely-existent defense against Rose, he made the kind of move veteran coaches make, putting Johnson, the Hawks best player, on Rose, the Bulls best player. This largely contributed to the huge lead the Hawks built.

But in the second half, Drew’s coaching fell apart. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. In the second half Drew allowed the Bulls to isolate Rose on Teague at the top of the key over and over and go around him. Teague played much better against Rose in the playoffs, but seeing his struggles in this game, Drew should have trapped Rose to make someone else beat the Hawks. On offense down the stretch, the Hawks reverted to iso-Joe, with zero offensive movement, expecting their worn-down leader to bail them out once again.

Speaking of late-game situations, Horford tied the game at 74-74 with 1-of-2 free throws with :07 to play. After Chicago called a 20-second timeout, I couldn’t tell if the Hawks were in zone or man or if Johnson just blew his assignment and left Deng wide open for a layup. After a Hawks timeout, Drew’s last chance play with 3 seconds remaining seemed to consist of an in-bounds pass to Al Horford three feet outside the three point line followed by a Joe Johnson air ball. 2/10


James Goeders said...

Sadly, I think 2/10 is too kind for Drew tonight.

Buddy Grizzard said...

Upon further review, the game-winning layup by Deng was definitely a blown assignment by Joe. Josh Smith shadowed Rose the entire play. Al Horford guarded Asik, who received the inbounds pass from Deng, who was Joe's assignment. Joe got caught looking at Rose, the decoy, as Deng cut back door for the game winner on a pass from Asik.

Buddy Grizzard said...

Ah crap... Noah not Asik.

Xavier said...

So if LD gets 2/10 for a close loss, what is a blowout loss worth?

Just curious what would you grade "Thibs"?

Buddy Grizzard said...

In a blowout loss where LD made an effort as a coach, he would grade higher. In this game he made no effort to stem the tide as the 19-point lead evaporated, waiting until the Bulls were within 5 to call a timeout. He made no effort to adjust to the Bulls' half court trap. He made no effort to get Teague some help on Rose. We knew from the first quarter that Teague couldn't stay in front of Rose, but LD allowed the Bulls to isolate Rose play after play. And help didn't come until Rose was at the rim, where it was too late.

Thibs I would rate about a 7/10... nothing spectacular. One of the absolute top tier coaches in basketball doesn't have to work very hard to out-coach one of the absolute worst coaches in basketball, especially when the latter isn't even trying in the second half.