Saturday, February 04, 2012

Initial Feedback: Teams With Winning Records Are Tricky

By Buddy Grizzard



Josh Smith
: This time you couldn't blame the loss on Larry Drew's, um, "creative" lineups. The damage was done with the starters on the floor, starting when Josh checked back in with 6:58 to play before halftime. From that point Philadelphia closed out the half on a 26-11 run (pre-halftime runs by Hawks opposition are becoming a regular occurrence). On a 2-for-11 shooting night, Josh wouldn't make his first basket until 7:46 to play in the third quarter. Charles Barkley and others have championed Josh as a candidate for an All-Star reserve selection. After a fourth consecutive atrocious offensive performance, you have to wonder if maybe Josh is such a contrarian that he has to prove people wrong no matter what they say about him, good or bad. Points awarded for the 10 rebounds and 7 blocks. 3/10

Marvin Williams: Scored his 8th point one minute into the second half then put on his invisibility cloak for the rest of the game. Points awarded for scoring 8 points when he only saw the floor for 20 minutes. 3/10

Zaza Pachulia: Played competently against Andrew Bogut and Marc Gasol but met his match in Spencer Hawes. Zaza is a good man-to-man defender and position rebounder, but he's never going to be a rim enforcer, erasing the mistakes of perimeter defenders who let their man blow by them, as happened in this game and Thursday's game against the Grizzlies. Scored 4 and collected 3 rebounds in only 23 minutes as Ivan Johnson again had a big night. 3/10

Joe Johnson: A much better showing than the game in Philadelphia but he worked for all 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting, along with 5 rebounds. He didn't reach his season average but it's all you could have asked against Andre Iguodala. It just wasn't enough to make up for Josh Smith's putrescent performance. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Atlanta's not-ready-for-prime-time player (according to's Sekou Smith) showed up in a big way with 21 points, 7-for-8 free throw shooting and 6 assists. He valiantly fought to get the Hawks back in the game throughout the second half, but the nightly pre-halftime opponent's run was too much to overcome. 7/10

Tracy McGrady: Iso-Mac was good for 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in only 17 minutes, but joined Willie Green as the only reserves to post negative +/- numbers. Too much time on the floor with Josh Smith, one supposes. 4/10

Vladimir Radmanovic: Did I read the box score correctly? Six rebounds? Bonus points awarded: 4/10

Kirk Hinrich: Shot only 2-for-6 from the floor. I'm not worried about Kirk... he needs to keep playing himself back into game shape and we know what he can do from the Orlando series last year. 4/10

Willie Green: Missed two shots in 6 minutes. Not his night. 1/10

Ivan Johnson: You may recall I stated earlier today in my game preview that Ivan Johnson is a better NBA center than Kendrick Perkins. Many no doubt laughed at the assertion. Spencer Hawes' line for the night: 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting with 5 rebounds. Ivan Johnson's line for the night: 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting with 13 rebounds. Would the prosecution care to rebut? 8/10

The head coach
In my preview, I built this game up as a referendum on Larry Drew's coaching style. It's really hard to draw any conclusions other than that the 76ers are a better, faster, deeper team that probably won't lose to the Hawks any time soon. The team fought hard in the second half to repair the damage from the first, so we will table any sweeping judgements for the time being. The question remains, is Drew the wrong coach to bring the best out of Josh Smith, or has Josh already checked out as he looks ahead to forcing a trade to a team he'd rather play for? 4/10

A thought regarding the opposition
Hawks fans should pray that their team finishes no worse than 5th in the Eastern Conference. If the team slips to 6th and faces the 76ers in the first round, it will be a short series.

No comments: