Thursday, April 20, 2017

Game 2 Was a Missed Opportunity

The Hawks blew a great chance last night. Good things happened while Dwight Howard was on the court in the third quarter! Howard didn't have a ton* to do with the primary factor for Atlanta's success: Wizards foul trouble causing Scott Brooks to go to his bench and create one of the mismatches - Paul Millsap against a larger, slower defender - which the Hawks could create themselves by going small...and there I go again. 

*Though the terrible pass he threw half-way between Taurean Prince and Kelly Oubre turned into three Hawks points after Prince hustled into the backcourt and got the personal foul/technical foul combo.

However, the Hawks were very successful for the six-and-a-half minutes they got play against the Gortat/Jason Smith tandem. Largely by playing 4-on-4, de-emphasizing the Howard/Gortat matchup. In the end it didn't matter. Partially because of the 6-14 hole the starting lineup dug over the first seven minutes of the game. Mostly, (and this entire next stretch deserves an "especially because Thabo Sefolosha isn't healthy/isn't playing"), because the Hawks don't have enough good players to fill 240 minutes effectively. Thus, their margin of error is more or less Brandon Jennings holding a fourth quarter Bad Shot Jamboree.

Kent Bazemore, generally overextended due to the lack of effective offensive players on the court alongside him this season, is being further overextended in his brief appearances as a backup point guard*, failing in that role, then playing out of control in an effort** to make up for his point guard failures. Tim Hardaway, Jr., who deserves acclaim for improving himself from arguably the worst player in the league into a creditable seventh or eighth guy (on a good team), is completely out of his depth in the playoffs*** again this season, exacerbating his defensive limitations (which are not a function of effort; he's trying to guard Bradley Beal, but he can't) with miserable offensive play. These two are making Taurean Prince at the 3 seem reasonable (despite how that fails to address any of this team's spacing issues) and Mikey Dunleavy's errors of omission in limited minutes seem relatively benign.

*Due to the complete and utter failure of the Malcolm Delaney signing

**Baze being the rare guy who got better by being less active on the court

***Thus earning him the Mike Scott degree from Hawks University


  • The Hawks are still -16 in the 49 minutes Dwight Howard has played in this series, +1 in the 39 minutes he hasn't.
  • Raw plus/minus isn't a great stat over one or two games. If Bradley Beal hadn't missed a couple of wide-open threes during the Hawks' third quarter run, or the aforementioned Brandon Jennings run hadn't occurred, these margins would be significantly different.
  • Even though Howard was more effective than in Game 1, he's dropping so deep when defending the pick-and-roll that Mike D'Antoni would sign off on the mid-range jumpers Wall and Beal are getting.
  • If the Hawks go small at home in Game 3, I'd prefer to see mostly Millsap/Ilyasova with Muscala and Prince getting short stints as necessary. 
  • Just play Jose Calderon as an ineffective backup point guard rather than make your sub-par wings even worse.

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