Nets shredded, Celtics next

Nothing like a blowout in our favor to stave off the drama for a few seconds, eh?

Be honest. You know it was against the worst team in the league, but you’re still glad it was a blowout. Because anything less would be an indicator that the recent problems plaguing the Hawks had not gotten any better, and may have gotten worse. So a moment’s reprieve, and another win. Would it have felt better if it was a road win, rather than a home win? Maybe, maybe not. It wouldn’t have mattered to the New Jersey Nets, who are losing no matter where they play. But it might matter to the Hawks. Or, maybe they are just glad to get back to playing the way they should and winning. Of course, the true test of mettle awaits, and it comes in the form of the Boston Celtics. But more on that later. For now, let’s indulge in a diversion of sorts.

We’ve discussed (and will continue to do so) all the things that we see happening in games, and like the collection of broken records that we are, we keep posting them. Sometimes we manage an artful “theme and variations”, but in the end it can get repetitive. Of course, such is our nature as fans.

Fellow Hawks fan Astro Joe offers another take on things and writes the following:

How about a “why do you think?” blog?  Instead of asking folk to judge or criticize, challenge them to think of why?
 Why does Woody run the iso play in close/late games? Why does Josh whine to the refs? Why does Joe turn into a ball-hog at certain points in the game? I don’t know, maybe that’s just a silly game that I like to play… not always judging but trying to gain an understanding from the perspective of that player/coach. Of course, it starts with a base assumption… that no one intentionally wants to fail. 
Very insightful, I think. It IS so much easier to judge and criticize. Every fan is a critic if he/she has an opinion at all.  Attempting to gain understanding from a different perspective, now that’s a change of pace, and not a silly one. So let’s look at the three questions above. I’ll start off by giving some of my own guesses, but don’t be shy….add yours.
 
Why DOES Woody run ISO plays late in the game? 
A coach is going to do what he is most comfortable with. If he is most comfortable with putting the ball in the hands of his most potent offensive players, that is what he’s going to do. It doesn’t matter if it works all the time, it has to be something the coach thinks has the best chance of being successful. Perhaps Woody feels that sharing the ball and running different plays is all well and fine for the bulk of the game, but if the chips are down…he wants the ball in the hands of the guy or guys he is most comfortable doing that with. Not all teams have more than one guy who is equally as dangerous as another. For instance, the Spurs have Duncan, Ginobilli, and Parker. Any one of the three spells trouble for the opposition. Do the Hawks have a trio of assassins? Mike Woodson may not think so. He’ll want the ball in Joe Johnson’s hands. Failing that, maybe it will go into Crawford’s hands, or maybe Bibby’s. But nine times out of ten, it will be Joe.
 
Why does Josh whine to the refs?
This one isn’t going to be easy. Or maybe it is. Personally, I don’t know what Josh is thinking, but I do know that he has to stop thinking it sometime soon. If not, it’s going to be a fairly long rest of the season. Josh Smith has worked on his game, and he has improved. On top of that, he has matured and learned to make better decisions with the ball. Does Josh feel that he’s good enough to be entitled to some calls? It’s possible that he sees how the officials tend to treat Joe Johnson, and doesn’t want the same thing happening to him. I don’t think Josh realizes how he sounds or how he looks to the refs. He wants respect, but he doesn’t know how to get it from the officials. And it seems that nobody is lending a hand in this matter, though on occasion his teammates have realized that when he lets fouls and foul calls take him out of his game, the team suffers from it. On top of all of that, aggression is Josh’s game. Emotion is Josh’s game. Both have to be channeled in such a way as to benefit the individual and the team as a whole. Perhaps this is just another step in the maturity and growth of Josh Smith. He has improved on fundamentals and decisions. But he also has to learn other nuances of the game, such as player-to-referee “politicking.”
 
Why does Joe turn into a ball-hog at certain points in the game?
This can be a controversial subject. You have to ask yourself, is Joe really a ball hog? Is it ball-hogging when he takes the most shots in a game, or throughout a period of the game? Maybe that’s part of the normal game plan. As versatile as this team is, Joe Johnson is still the leading scorer and the best player on the team. Right? Heh heh heh. There will be some argument as to that particular statement alone….some will say that Joe is no longer the best player on the team. Others will say he is no longer the best player “head and shoulders above the rest.” But back to the original question: why does he do it? Again, this is very likely a staple of the normal routine. Give the ball to your leading/best scorer. What’s abnormal about that? The ensuing question is probably this: WHEN should Joe dominate the ball during a game? And this goes back to the first question. A coach is going to implement what he feels most comfortable with. Joe “hogging” the ball may be that comfort zone. Is it the best formula for success? Probably, if you have the right caliber of player, and use this tactic at the right time. Does this apply to the Hawks? Hmmmmm.
On the other side of the coin, what about Joe? Maybe Joe dominates the ball because he feels most responsible for providing offense. After all, that’s one of the biggest reasons he was brought here. Maybe he feels that if the ball is in his hands, he can get done what needs to be done, whether it’s scoring or making the play. Knowing when to do it and when NOT to do it is no cake walk. Look how long it took Kobe to figure it out. Lebron James still may not have the concept down pat.
Now it’s your turn. Why do YOU think those things happen? Don’t be shy. Blast away!
 
HAWKS VS CELTICS
 
Boston just survived an overtime thriller against the Heat in Miami, and will be flying in to meet the Hawks in the Highlight Factory. After that is another flight to Toronto, where they’ll face the Raptors, before flying back home and playing the Hawks again. No doubt the Celtics plan on making this a 3-0 road trip, but the Hawks will have other plans.
Fresh off a demoralizing loss to the Heat in Miami, the Hawks mopped the floor with the New Jersey Nets and got back to doing mostly what tends to work best for them: playing defense, outrebounding the other team, and running the break when the opportunity presents itself. The starters got to sit down for a good chunk of the second half (mostly the 4th quarter) and the bench got some burn. Now both teams take Thursday to prepare for each other.
 
In the last game…
The Hawks beat Boston for the first time since game 6 of the first round in the ‘07-’08 Eastern Conference playoffs. Even better, they did it in Boston. How did the Hawks manage this? Well, with Boston shooting a little bit better percentage, Atlanta had to gain advantage elsewhere. And they did just that by hammering the Celtics on the boards with a 47-29 advantage, including 16 offensive rebounds. The loss put the Celtics in a moment of doubt, where they lost games to Indiana and Orlando (sandwiched around a win against Golden State) before they embarked on an 11 game winning streak and rose back to the top of the Eastern Conference heap.
The Celtics will be looking for some payback. The best way to get revenge against a team who has beaten you on your own court? Beat them on theirs.
 
Keys to The Game
 
The Celtics are absolutely bent on being the best defensive team in the NBA. Few things demoralize a defense more than a three point play, but one of them is an offensive rebound. The Hawks will have to pound the Celtics on the boards as much as they can, and on the offensive end especially. Atlanta will want to limit fast break opportunities for Boston and get second chances when bad shots are taken offensive rebounds will do that. Defensively, it should be a titanic struggle. Both teams are/can be good at contesting shots, denying passing lanes, and creating loose ball situations. The Celtics are far more consistent where this is concerned so again….rebounding will be key.
Jamal Crawford is a weapon to be used against the best of teams. In the last contest, he came off the bench to score 18 points, which was just 6 points shy of what the entire Boston bench managed to muster. Crawford provides what he was brought here to provide: Joe Johnson level scoring, when Joe Johnson is not in the game….at a quicker pace and in less time, at that.
Rajon Rondo is the new Celtics Linchpin. Oh, Garnett is the heart of the defense and Paul Pierce is the team leader. But this year, Rondo seems more and more to be the one who puts the Celtics over the top when all else is equal. Don’t be fooled by his mere 13.2 points per game. Rondo can and will explode for 20+ points at any given time. More importantly, he’s shooting over 52% from the field. Oh, and he’s averaging just a hair under 10 assists per game, and 4 rebounds per game. This from a point guard?
 
The Flip Side
Okay, we all know that Josh and Al are big keys to this game. Who is the X-factor in this matchup, though? Who puts Atlanta over the top. Crawford? Or somebody else?
 
Hate is Good
 
In this case, it really is. No really, just hear me out: The Hawks hate to lose to the Celtics. And I think that’s why they play them so hard. I don’t know whether it was because THIS Hawks team cut their playoff teeth with the Celtics or if it was the fact that after taking them 7 games in the first round of the playoffs, nobody even remotely involved with the Celtics (except Doc Rivers) would give the Hawks the credit or respect for being anything remotely close to a rival. While Boston is clearly “Big Three” and Atlanta is still “best of the rest”, it seems that the Hawks come ready to do battle at the very mention of the Green Machine. Maybe if the Hawks hated to lose to other teams as much as they seem to hate losing to the Celtics, they’d win even more games. I don’t know. What do you think?

179 comments Add your comment

JD

January 7th, 2010
12:44 am

all due respect to the Hawks. but nobody in the world, and 90% of Hawks fans think the Hawks are anything even remotely close to a rival with Boston. Boston beats the hawks 9 times out of 10, that isn’t a rivalry and yes the 1st round series was nice in 08, but the Hawks lost by an average of 23pts in Boston. these are not the things rivalries are made out of. Focus on the Heat rivalry brewing, or maybe the Cavs or the Magic. but the Celtics and the Hawks record vs the Celtics prevents it from being a rivalry.

jlewis

January 7th, 2010
12:59 am

Man, I hope Joe Johnson leaves the Hawks for free agency. Just remember Phoenix a few years back, for those that think Jamal is the answer in Joe’s place, you are truly delusional.

El Bravo

January 7th, 2010
7:45 am

Woodson calling iso jj in close-late situations is no different than most coaches in the NBA (iso Lebron, iso Kobe, iso Dwane, iso Chris). Coaches with a superstar that can handle the rock will use this tactic late in games more often than not. It is an attempt to slow down the game, control the clock, reduce turnovers and hopefully get a good look at the basket for your best player. The problem is that Joe is just a small step below the other names on the list. I personally do not mind the tactic itself but I disagree with how long we call for it. Woodson begins to run iso jj with over 5 minutes left in the game and all that does is get the rest of your team out of the flow of the game…

El Bravo

January 7th, 2010
7:58 am

JJ becoming a ball hog is just the natural result of the tactics implemented by Woodson. He has made it clear to the team that iso jj is the go-to play whenever the Hawks need a basket. It is only natural then for jj to call his own number whenever he senses that the team must score…

Fundamentals

January 7th, 2010
8:28 am

Woodson needs to continue to develop all options on the bench to keep the defense of other teams for shutting down ISO Joe. It’s all we’ve shown. Other teams have other players who contribute regularly to keep the ISO working. It’s Woodson & Bibby’s job to choose the play, run a variety and keep ISO Joe working. It’s not bad every few plays, but 30 in a row is easy to predict.

Good job on the game last night. Weekend will prove exactly how much the “players only” meeting meant. I pray for energy and aggression.

The Boston Rivalry has been more of a hatred as long as I can remember. Sorry guys. They’ll be “our” rival as long as I live. Only problem for the C’s is our time is coming. Might be 30 years in the making, but we’re gonna get one on the C’s real soon. Hopefully this year in the ECF. Our youth will overtake them very very soon!

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
8:35 am

Ray, thanks. I think Woody goes to iso plays late in the game because he values ball security. Ball movement presumably increases the chance of a tunrover (much like passing the football is riskier than running it from a TO perspective). SO I think that Woody is so fearful of a late-game turnover that he would rather place the ball in one guy’s hands and have him either shoot or make one pass for a shot. And the reason I believe that is true is because of the intense focus he places on low turnovers.

richbrave

January 7th, 2010
8:46 am

doc:

You need to check out MIKE WISE’s article in this morning’s WASHINGTON POST. Our boy may be in serious trouble.

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
8:53 am

I think Josh’s problem with the refs and the fact that it takes him completely out of the game is due to his immaturity. I will be so glad when that will stop being used as an excuse for his play. When he is active, rebounding, passing and blocking, this team is elite, when he goes into a funk, we are slightly above average. Simple as that.

What is he thinking when he lets the refs/bad plays affect his game? I think he is insecure and needs near constant affirmation to play at his best. I think it is a product of being “shined on” ever since middle school and AAU ball. The process makes flashy players, but very insecure ones(heck, they even bring guns to the locker room). Josh has the talent, he seems to have the right people advising him, now he just has to take that next step(which is hardest) to playing with consistency. That seperates the good from the great.

Joe’s ball hogging(what is he thinking?): This is what I am paid to do. The next one is going in. I can take this guy. Awww, F-it we are getting beat anyway.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
9:11 am

nire, what does the coaching have to do with the 12 boards for Josh?

Honestly, AJ, what the hell do you think a coach do besides sit on the bench, make substitutions, and hope that the players are smart enough to figure everything out?

For defensive rebounding…
1) A coach could stop employing the switching defense that frequently leaves Josh out on the perimeter in many cases when the shot goes up.

For offensive rebounding…
2) A coach could design an offensive system in which the team’s power forward is not frequently out on the perimeter in many cases when the shot goes up

Generally…
3) A coach could tell Josh that his #1 priority when a shot goes up on either end is to crash the boards, unless he is clearly not in a position to get the rebound
4) A coach could show Josh how to maintain his position on the block, since Josh still relies primarily on his athleticism rather than positioning and boxing out his man.

I’m sure there are a million other ways. But Patrick Ewing is a famous example of a player who put up poor rebounding numbers when he played under a coach (Pitino) whose schemes often left him too far from the basket on defense, and improved his rebounding dramatically when a new coach came in who had him patrol the lane more. Shawn Marion’s rebounding numbers also spiked when D’Antoni came in and told him to crash the boards more and look for perimeter shots less. Etc etc etc.

But hey, we all know that in your mind, it’s up to the players to figure everything out for themselves.

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
9:21 am

nire—? who/what are you responding to?

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
9:39 am

Daniel,

Good to see ya back here, man. I was responding to a post that AJ made at the end of the last thread.

O'Brien

January 7th, 2010
9:41 am

Why does Woody run iso plays late in the game? Because Woody has the utmost confidence that his player (JJ or Crawford) will get a good shot off on their own. The more people involved in the play, the greater the chances that somebody else (not named JJ) messes up.

Why does Josh whine to the refs? He sees that JJ does not whine, and does not get any calls. So maybe Josh thinks that by complaining, he will get more calls. (I wish JJ would complain more, and Josh complain less).

Joe ball hogs because that’s what Woody wanted him to do when he first got here. 5 years later, it’s hard to change your way of thinking, especially when the head coach expects you to produce at a certain level. In order to produce at that level, he needs the ball in his hands. And Joe probably thinks that’s the best way for the team to win as well. (Remember how it took Kobe years to learn that “team” concept).

Since Pierce is just back from injury, I would like to see the Hawks run a couple for plays for Marvin early. If Marvin stumbles and fumbles (and misses), so be it. They should also do the same thing for the frontcourt. Give Josh and Al some early touches to see what they can do. Maybe get Perkins or KG to pickup a quick foul or two.

When the Hawks won in Boston, the Celtics shot 1-15 from 3. I don’t think they will shoot that bad again. Hawks need to rebound, and run. Even if the Celtics make the FG, Hawks need to push it. The Celtics bigs cannot keep up with Josh and Al in the open court.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
9:42 am

As for the cause of the proliferation of ISO-Joe plays…well you know my theory about THAT, Ray. And I blame the same person that I blame for Josh’s uneven development and the fact that Al and Marvin don’t get the touches they should.

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
9:42 am

ahhh.. ok, good to be back(?) When I get to blog, means I am at work… vaca was good though.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
9:43 am

Great post, O’Brien.

doc

January 7th, 2010
10:23 am

thanks rb. ill try tp find the link

the only reason for the whys is woody doesnt have that inventive of a mind. he always goes with what he has done over and over again even though it gets the same poor results down the stretch and after time outs. again i wish he would call time outs for defensive strategies and let the guys play on the other end. we dont win by his strategies is my thought, he doesnt change the flow of games. it is about how the guys get or dont get stops in critical points of the game. yes give him credit for teaching it away from games. he still doesnt manage games very well. case in point allowing nate friggin robinson to win a game.

funny the female sideline announcer asked coach drew at halftime if they had made any adjustments. cough cough, he said he felt they had done a pretty good job on him. then the guy came out and busted their chops. the durn female sideline announcer called who they needed to come up with a strategy on and we didnt do jack but allow him to drive to the basket unimpeded, not once did he go down nor once did teague come off the bench. btw, teague last night, did some good stuff on a guy who has killed us in the past d harris. wake up woody the clock ticks and each game you give away affects your contract more than the ones you win because expectations are there.

the reason why on jj has to be his coach says so. if not, then the why is, why isnt he coachable to do something his coach wants him to do?

the why of josh is it is what he is made of, it is his intensity and the thought that he never does anything wrong, it is always about someone else if there is a problem, a warriors attitude. he manifests it by shouting down the refs. all the better guys do it. bron bron went off and the refs ignored him, josh goes off and they get in his face. in other sports of the mano a mano type on the big stage, good hitters do it, they never missed a ball 2 inches off the plate; tiger never missed a putt as it was always a bit of turf that threw the ball off not his stroke. ultimately josh is going to have to let his game do the talking and take it out on someone else or another team or have a coach not afraid to take a hit for the team woody wont because he is a control freak. i guess that is another why, why doesnt woody do it instead of josh, trying to teach him a lesson isnt the right answer.

Big Ray

January 7th, 2010
10:41 am

Hmmmm….very good posts, guys.

Daniel ,

The AAU thing may not help in terms of hype, but Josh’s biggest problems seemed to stem from no college experience, no fundamentals taught to him in high school, etc. In general, it’s maturity, like you say.

However, it has not made him a bad person. Neither he nor his teammates have had even remotely the issues that many others have had (like Arenas and Crittendon, Delonte West, etc), despite this “stigma” of being a former AAU ball player or being from College Park, or any other background that may be used stereotypically. He has argued with this coach, he does argue with the refs. This is because he played AAU ball? I wonder what the explanation is for guys like Kobe, Lebron, Garnett, Wade, Carmelo, and so on? I do see one constant among them (though Josh is not yet nearly the player that they are, and probably never will be on that level): INTENSITY. One thing is for certain, he’s a better teammate early on than any of those guys were. Especially on the sideline, where he is always cheering his teammates on or reaching out to them on the bench (much like last night…the Joe ignores him a lot).

Just an observation. But you’re right….it’s maturity that has to be worked on here.

Question. If maturity is the issue, then why want Josh to complain less and Joe complain more?

Big Ray

January 7th, 2010
10:42 am

Nire ,

Very good post at 9:11 a.m.

Big Ray

January 7th, 2010
10:43 am

Astro Joe ,

Makes plenty of sense, especially from the perspective of the coach.

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lacsho

January 7th, 2010
11:03 am

Why is the AJC pay Ken (whatever) when we have Big Ray. They need to offer you the main spot.

thomas22

January 7th, 2010
11:06 am

O’Brien- Good Post about Josh.

He’s got to let his game do the talking . I hope his whining was one of the things addressed in the players meeting because whether he believes it or not, it has a greater effect on the team than he thinks- because he complains so much the refs take it out not only on him, but the other players as well.

Last night the Hawks looked like the team that started the season (even though they were playing the Nets). Beating Boston tomorrow will definitely convince me, which I believe we can do.

JJ showed emotion finally! Al is still the most consistent player we have- Marvin definitely needs to play more aggressive.

Once Bibby decides he’s really the floor general things will be even better. Jamal is an asset hands down- but I’d like to see him to continue up his “D”. .

lacsho

January 7th, 2010
11:19 am

Correction: Paying

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
11:24 am

nire, I challenged your rebounding comment because rebounding (IMO) is about a team effort. Is it really that important if Smith is grabbing those extra 4 boards or if they are grabbed by a combo of the other 4 players on the team? Isn’t the measure of good coaching more about if your team is out-rebounding the other team and less if a single player (or two) is optimizing their personal rebounding stats? If you are telling me that those 4 extra boards for Josh are coming from the other team’s bucket of boards, that’s great. But I’m guessing that when Josh switches off, some of those boards are going to the teammate who is closer to the rim. If it ain’t helping the team, who cares?

It’s like the whole discussion about Marvin and his lack of aggression. Marvin is not likely going to be shooting shots from incremental possessions, instead, he would be taking shots away from his teammates. Who cares? Unless he is taking shots from a far less efficient player, it doesn’t help the team… just Marvin. And I’m not convinced that a coach needs to worry about the individual stats of a player. If we’re a top 5 offensive club, why do we care about the distribution of points?

I’m still not convinced that when Smith is on the perimeter of the offense, the play is designed for him to shoot from the perimeter. It may be designed for him to move the ball, wait for a cut, wait for a weakside pick that frees a player. It may not be that the play is designed for Josh to shoot, but that’s what he does (because that what the defense gives him). When he gets the ball with 2 seconds left on the shot-clock, then that’s on the team. But no one can tell me that Smith has demonstrated the discipline that he only launches a long-distance shot when the clock is running down. In summary, I don’t equate Smith shooting from deep with a play designed for Smith to shoot from deep. And I’m not entirely sure how anyone else draws that same conclusion. Unless you have convinced yourself that Smith follows his coach’s wishes each and every time and never deviates.

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
11:48 am

doc, I disagree with you whole-heartedly that Woody is a control-freak. I think he is a guy who sllows far more freedom than most coaches. Too much freedom. I think he is more teacher and less manager. A teacher provides the tools for someone to apply on their own (teach them how to fish). A manager hoards the tools and disseminates info/tools as needed (here’s the fish). Woody teaches at practice and expects the players to demonstrate the knowledge on the floor. When they don’t, he’s at a lost. But that is NOT being a control freak. When we were high-flying earlier this season, it was clear that we were playing “Woody Ball”. Contesting shots, switching hard and rebounding well. All of that led to fast break oppos and points in the paint. It was the culmination of years of teaching. And when teams were able to make adjustments and/or players deviated from the lesson plan, Woody didn’t have a ready “plan B” ready. Still a problem (a big one) but NOT a control freak issue.

nire, back to you, the reason why I used to say (constantly) that Woody is better suited for a vet team is because vets know what they are supposed to do. Some folk prefer to teach the novice some prefer someone with some knowledge of the subject. A 11th grade trig teacher may struggle teaching a 1st grader about addition. Phil Jackson (I’m guessing) would never take on an OKC-type team. Woody was an awful match for the Hawks initially because he seemed to require a more advanced player, not someone who couldn’t even dribble. But now, he has a mostly veteran squad and the results are quite different.

In the corporate world, you sometimes hire an exec with a vision that could take a company from one phase to the next. Think about the leadership needed to move a company like AT&T from your parent’s telephone company to one that now is a wireless/internet monster (with the super-cool iPhone as it’s flagship product). But could that CEO take on issues at a company like GM or Delta? I think that is a completely different skill set. Both CEOs could be masterful at their respective jobs while failing miserably if the match isn’t right. Circuit City had the wrong leaders, Best Buy had the right leaders.

I think that we continue to view the Woody that was mis-matched with the youngest team in the NBA. But that is no longer his roster and so, I think that we need to adjust our perspective.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
12:19 pm

AJ,

There’s one huge, supermassive difference between Marvin’s field goal attempts and Josh’s rebounds. When Marvin takes a shot, that’s one shot less for his teammates. But when Josh takes a rebound, that is NOT necessarily one rebound less for his teammates because about half of all rebounds are taken by the other team (on the year as a whole, the Hawks have almost exactly the same number of rebounds as their opponents – 1426 to 1421). So it’s NOT as if Josh increasing his rebounds will automaticall result in fewer rebounds for his teammates.

Quite the contrary, in fact. Take a look at the team game-by-game rebounding stats and Josh’s rebounding stats side-by-side. Josh’s rebounds fluctuate more than any other player on the team’s, and whether we win the rebounding battle depends largely on the number of rebounds he gets. The Hawks outrebounded the other team in 6 out of the 7 games where Josh grabbed 10+ rebounds and averaged 46.6 rebounds in those games; they lost the rebounding battle in 8 out of the 12 games where Josh got 6 or fewer and averaged just 41.2 rebounds in those games. The team averages 41.9 rebounds per game on the whole this year. (Not incidentally, the team also scores more when Marvin gets more points – they average 112.8 ppg in the games where he scores 14 or more, compared to 104.4 for the season as a whole).

And no one said that the possessions were “designed” to result in Josh shooting from the perimeter. On the contrary, if you read what everyone and his mother has said, the Hawks offense doesn’t seem to be designed to do anything at all. Which is why it so often ends up with an unpleasant result like a Josh jumper, a double-teamed shot by JJ, or a 20-foot jumper with a hand in his face by Crawford. The frequent lack of ball movement and off-ball movement is one of the most striking features of Woody’s system. Woody’s lack of a system is exactly the problem, unless you actually think that Woody has a system involving lots of movement and the players have conspired to ignore it.

doc

January 7th, 2010
12:23 pm

aj, the way he sits guys down for extended periods without obvious cause or neglects to think about them or relies on vets to do what he wants them to do without any room for ad lib suggests otherwise to me though you point out salient things about woody it is not the whole and what i was referring to as his control does extend probably to not delegating to assistants as well. not too sure on this one but that has been a complaint more than once.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
12:32 pm

AJ,

There’s one huge, supermassive difference between Marvin’s field goal attempts and Josh’s rebounds. When Marvin takes a shot, that’s one shot less for his teammates. But when Josh takes a rebound, that is NOT necessarily one rebound less for his teammates because about half of all rebounds are taken by the other team (on the year as a whole, the Hawks have almost exactly the same number of rebounds as their opponents – 1426 to 1421). So it’s NOT as if Josh increasing his rebounds will automaticall result in fewer rebounds for his teammates.

Quite the contrary, in fact. Take a look at the team game-by-game rebounding stats and Josh’s rebounding stats side-by-side. Josh’s rebounds fluctuate more than any other player on the team’s, and whether we win the rebounding battle depends largely on the number of rebounds he gets. The Hawks outrebounded the other team in 6 out of the 7 games where Josh grabbed 10+ rebounds and averaged 46.6 rebounds in those games; they lost the rebounding battle in 8 out of the 12 games where Josh got 6 or fewer and averaged just 41.2 rebounds in those games. The team averages 41.9 rebounds per game on the whole this year. (Not incidentally, the team also scores more when Marvin gets more points – they average 112.8 ppg in the games where he scores 14 or more, compared to 104.4 for the season as a whole).

And no one said that the possessions were “designed” to result in Josh shooting from the perimeter. On the contrary, if you read what everyone and his mother has said, the Hawks offense doesn’t seem to be designed to do anything at all. Which is why it so often ends up with an unpleasant result like a Josh jumper, a double-teamed shot by JJ, or a 20-foot jumper with a hand in his face by Crawford. The frequent lack of ball movement and off-ball movement is one of the most striking features of Woody’s system. Woody’s lack of a system is exactly the problem, unless you actually think that Woody has a system involving lots of movement and the players have conspired to ignore it.

And while I think that Woody is better-suited for a vet team than a young team, I don’t think he has what it takes to lead either to a title. The problem with leaving so much up to the players is that even the best players can be schemed against by a good coach. You need a coach who has an offensive system in place that allows for the creation of open looks within the flow of the offense, and who can make adjustments in-game as needed. That’s why the Bulls always fell to the Celtics and Pistons under Doug Collins’s “let Michael do everything” system, why the Lakers always faltered under a system that relied on the offensive skills of Shaq & co. to carry the day, why the Lakers collapsed against the Pistons in 2004 when Kobe stopped running the triangle when he got the ball, and why the Cavs always falter in the playoffs as soon as they face a good team with a decent coach.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
12:35 pm

Whoops, sorry…thought my first post didn’t go through. Ray, feel free to delete it :)

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
12:38 pm

Ray- I hope you didn’t take my comments to mean that I was suggesting something bad about Josh’s character more than he is still immature for a person of his age and life expierence. I threw the gun comment in to demonstrate how low some of these guys will go. I do not mean to suggest that Josh is a problem guy or some kind of thug. Absolutely not. He really seems to have his head on straight in general.

I was just pointing out that Josh’s immaturity (which we all agree is getting less but still too present) is demonstrated by pouting, whining and general lack of effort when things aren’t going his way. Honestly, like a spoiled little kid. Where did he get that mindset? Obviously, from his AAU/high school(semi-pro*wink*) youth. Some that have that expierence channel it into a supersized ego that helps them excell but rub some the wrong way (Kobe/LeBron), some desperately want to seem like “they are down” (Arenas/Melo) and some need their ego stroked to perform because they are so insecure on the inside(Josh Smith).

Hey, you asked us to try and understand “why” they act the way they do.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
12:44 pm

Tidbit: The past 25 title-winning teams have had 13 different leading scorers (Kareem, Larry, Magic, Byron, Isiah, Michael, Hakeem, Tim, Shaq, Kobe, Chauncey, Wade, and Pierce). But they only have had 8 different head coaches (Riley, Jones, Daly, Phil, Rudy, Popovich, Brown, and Doc). I can’t find a single example of a team that has won a title where the coach’s attitude was “you know what to do. Do it.”

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
12:50 pm

OK Nire and AJ:

I agree with AJ in general that Woodson is more of a teacher than a control freak. I think that Nire blames Woodson too much.
But, Josh rebounding the basketball is NOT made up from other players. When Josh is rebounding, this team plays at a significantly better level. When he in particular rebounds, the guards can get out and run, Horford isn’t being blocked down under the basket and in general his head is more in the game.

In fact, if Josh could translate his frustrations with the refs/bad play/ etc. into rebounding harder, he would become the All Star player that we know he can be.

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
1:16 pm

nire, any relationship between payroll (reletive to the other 29 teams) and titles? Care to make a bet that a non-luxury tax team wins this year’s title?

I’m still confused how the combination of a lack of an offensive scheme and a relative middling salary (coupled with a 1 All-Star roster) has resulted in a high-scoring offense in the Eastern Confernce. It must be voo-doo. Or someone who is still living in the 2005-06 season.

doc, I also suspect that he is a poor delegator (with regard to his assistants).

O'Brien

January 7th, 2010
1:56 pm

I’m wondering, do the Hawks practice isos, or do we actually practice some set plays, move the ball, pick and rolls, set screens, push the tempo etc. If we practice isos, JJ should be better at it lol. (For the record, I don’t think we run a lot of isos in practice).

But during the game, we run numerous isos (especially when the game is tight), while Woody stands there with a glare and arms folded, while not doing anything about it. If that’s not what he wants the team to run, then do something about it. Which is why I think that’s exactly what he wants the team to run. iso JJ.

That being said, I don’t think Woody is a control freak. I just think he’s either stubborn or insecure. Two examples; his assistants recommended he play his bench more (the last 2 seasons), but Woody refused. During one of the playoff games, his assistants recommended that we double DWade because Wade was going off, but Woody refused (although the Hawks finally beat the Heat in 7).

The problem is, the way Woody coached the young Hawks team is very similar to how he coaches the vets (although he gives his vets a lot more freedom). When we were young, Woody would probably say “give the ball to JJ, and let him improvise”. We do run more now than we did back then, but when the game gets close, Woody tells our vets “give the ball to JJ, and let him improvise”. I will say this about Woody though. From day 1, he has been preaching defense and rebounding.

AJ,

If we had an offensive system, then we could run it and execute when we need a bucket. But what do we do? Run isos, and take a lot of jump shots. Sure, we try to create turnovers, rebound the ball, and run, especially early on. But when the going gets tough, isos get going.

I agree about poor delegation when it comes to assistants, and I still don’t know what Tyrone Hill is teaching our bigs.

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
2:05 pm

OB, I heard Horoford complemement Hill recently for helping him with his low-post offense. Hopefully, he wasn’t just being kind.

I don’t disagree that we need to imrpove our late game execution. That is obvious. But should we ignore what works for about 90% of the games and for about 90% of the 48 minutes? If we’re not doing something right in the first 44 minutes, then we’re probably not close enough to worry about which plays get called in the last 4 minutes (see Miami game).

The problem with the ISO (IMO) is that Joe is not opting to do anything other than shoot. I am guessing that there is a pass option associated with each ISO play. Of course, the teammates need to move in order to free themselves to receive a pass.

Daniel

January 7th, 2010
2:21 pm

It doesn’t matter what kind of offensive system you run or don’t run, if the team plays lazy, players pout and don’t rebound.
It also doesn’t matter when the team plays with energy, keep their head in the game and rebound.
And, I know Woody teaches that.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
2:58 pm

Astro Joe,

The luxury tax only came into being in 2002. The ‘03 and ‘05 Spurs did not pay the luxury tax. Neither did the 2004 Pistons. Neither did the 2006 Heat. The ‘07 Spurs did pay the tax, but only $200k worth. Four teams had higher payrolls than the Spurs in 2007. The ‘08 and ‘09 champs both paid a hefty tax, but five had higher payrolls than the Celtics when the Celts won in ‘08 and four teams had higher payrolls than the Lakers last year.

Is there correlation? Yes, because you need to have the talent to contend, and it’s tough to get that kind of talent without spending a lot of money. But deep in the playoffs, every team has enough talent to contend. The teams that end up winning titles are the ones who play well together and who can make adjustments when things go wrong. The Lakers payroll wasn’t any higher relative to the league average in ‘00 than in ‘99 or in ‘02 compared to ‘04 (on the contrary, it was even higher in ‘04).

Larry Brown took a team with inferior talent and dismantled a Lakers team whose guards refused to execute the system that Jackson wanted to implement. The ‘99 Spurs similarly were able to shred a talented Lakers team that didn’t play together.

Would the Hawks do better if they upgraded a couple players on their roster? Of course. But Woody isn’t maximizing the talent he has right now. You might be willing to sell this team’s roster short, but I’m not. We are one of the few teams in the league that goes 9 deep and does not have any glaring weaknesses in its starting 5 (even though there are many people on here who will argue until they are blue in the face that their disfavored player is a glaring weakness). JJ and Josh both are All-Star caliber players, and Horford and Jamal are damned close. We have equal or better overall talent compared to the ‘07 Jazz, the ‘03-’08 Pistons, the ‘02-’03 Nets, the ‘02 Celtics, the ‘03 Mavs, the ‘03 Celtics, the ‘04 Pacers, and the ‘04 Wolves – all teams that made at least the Conference Finals. Hell, I’d even say that we have the talent to go toe-to-toe with last year’s Magic, and I think that if we traded coaches with them, the Hawks would be the better team.

You imply that Woody is getting the most out of this team. If that’s true, then Woody is a good coach (a view I myself held a couple years back). But for months on end, you have bobbed, weaved, bent over backwards, and done everything else in your power to avoid answering what exactly you think a coach should do. Because from the way you (and Samuel and Truth-Serum) tell it, how well a team does depends almost entirely on the talent it has – if they don’t do well, it’s because the players aren’t good enough or didn’t execute. But if that’s true, then the coach is irrelevant. It would be funny if it weren’t such a blatantly contradictory position. But that’s what happens when you start with a conclusion and then try to justify it, instead of starting from the other end and building a conclusion.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
2:59 pm

*strike the ‘03 Celtics

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
3:06 pm

To be clear: My view in 2006-2007 was that ISO Joe was pretty much the only reliable way for us to score points when we needed to. Our second best offensive player was a topic of constant debate, and I wavered between Tyronn, Josh, Marvin, and Zaza depending on the day of the week. But during the last two years with the arrival of Horford and Bibby (and now Crawford) and the maturation of Josh and Marvin, it’s clear that we do have players who have the ability to put a good number of points on the board when given the opportunity. The last straw for me was the 2 games we won when JJ went down hurt last year and we took back-to-back road games anyway. And as soon as JJ came back, the offense went right back to the way it had been before.

Woody’s offensive “system” has not evolved as quickly as the players within it. Put another way, the team has outgrown its coach.

MannyT

January 7th, 2010
3:38 pm

Why, is Astro Joe one of those highly effective habits people?

My take on the Ys

Why DOES Woody run ISO plays late in the game?

If most folks were always on the brink of losing their very well paid gig, I would suspect they would like ISO Joe. If Woody’s going down, it will be with his best player making the final decisions. Often talent is more important than scheme in a brief, end of game situation.

While I might think differently, I am not risking a multi million dollar job if I’m wrong. Thus I get the ISO Joe thing. I just wish Woody could come up with some options to fool some of the people some of the time instead of fooling none of the people all of the time.

…and like doc said…he does not appear to have that innovative, on the fly thing that allows you to use something old in a new way when it comes to time out plays.

Why does Josh whine to the refs?

How often does someone tell a pro athlete that he is wrong? Now put on top of that consideration that sometimes Josh is correct that he was fouled, but he is not getting the call. Maybe his life patterns say complain when you get wronged even if it gets you in more trouble. I wish I could swap 10% of Joe for 10% of Josh on this one. Joe almost never complains. Maybe Joe needs to give some visuals if he doesn’t want to say, REF, the only way X can guard me is to foul me. Make that call. X needs to know he isn’t a stopper but a misdemeanor assult guy.

Why does Joe turn into a ball-hog at certain points in the game?

This one is easy.

1. No traditional point guard that demands the ball.
2. He was brought here with the idea that he should have the ball in his hands.
3. He leads the team in assists.
4. No one seems to challenge him on it. (Although a good argument from his teammates might be that we all get better when we touch the ball. Sharing D Love.)

BWAF

MannyT

January 7th, 2010
3:50 pm

The Hawks should take a lesson from the Rockets.
http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/12095/good-newsbad-news-for-the-rockets
“We’re not playing the way we’ve talked about playing,” says Adelman. “We’ve walked the ball up the court. We need five people running up and down the court and we’re not doing it. We’ve got to change that. We can’t have one group playing one way and then the next group playing different.”

Adds Battier: “We’ve had slippage in the chemistry department. You can just tell by the way we play. We haven’t been as unified at both ends of the court. You can say that with pretty good confidence because the second group that comes in, the guys off the bench, have great chemistry. They play together, they move the ball, they space the floor and they rely on each other to play good basketball.

“I think the tendency for the first group right now is to really try to do it themselves and try to carry the team out of the slump. We’re not doing it out of malicious reasons; every guy feels that they can help the team and raise the level of play. But we’ve gotten away from trying to do it collectively instead of individually and it’s resulted in some pretty bad basketball.”

Sharing D Love!

BWAF

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
3:54 pm

nire, I think we’re the 4th best team in the East. I said it during ther summer as rosters were being tweeked and I still believe it. Anything less than that would be disappointing. But so far, the players and coach are meeting my expectations. And closing the gap requires several variables… that would likely require more from ownership, coach and players.

Lastly, wouldn’t we see diminishing returns if “the team had outgrown the coach”? When something goes stale, I thought it loses it’s potency… we seem more potent than ever.

I guess I simply have problems separating players that have only played for one coach from that coach. I can’t definitively say that player X would be better/worse with a different coach. (For example, would Jordan Farmar be better if he were coached by Larry Brown?) I guess I just don’t possess that same ability to disconnect student from the teacher like you. When I look at guys who have left the team, I can’t think of too many examples where they accomplished much more. Even guys like Al Harrington seem to be the same now as they were then. Diaw is the exception (debatable) but I struggle to think of anyone else. And usually, a sample of one isn’t much of a trend.

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
4:35 pm

First off, how the hell is Diaw debatable? Woody used him as a spot-up shooter and he was terrible. D’Antoni used him as everything but that and turned him into a Sixth Man Award contender. From the split second he left the Hawks, he’s been leaps and bounds better. It started within a week or two after his debut with the Suns. And it has continued with two new coaches and one new team. The fact that you label him as “debatable” as to whether he is a solid player that Woody would clueless on how to use pretty much says it all.

As for diminishing returns. We face the exact same issue of not moving the ball and not getting any offensive flow when the going gets tough in a game, which is why we have only won one close game (against Dallas) in the past 6 weeks, and none for the past month. And we have exactly the same record now as we did one year ago, despite having pretty much indisputably a deeper, better roster with a core that is still young and has been together longer than any team in the East. How is that NOT diminishing returns?

niremetal

January 7th, 2010
4:40 pm

Let’s see. We have exactly the same record as we did a year ago, despite having 1) an indisputably upgraded bench; 2) a starting 5 with one of the league’s lowest average ages (still); and 3) a core that has been together longer than any other team in the East’s. How is that NOT diminishing returns?

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
6:53 pm

Manny, yeah, me and Covey are good buddies.

doc and I were on board for Adelman several years ago. He’s still one of my favorite coaches and he is doing probably his best job this year. I also love how they handled T-Mac… that team is excelling as a group of hard-hat workers fighting for everything. They don’t need a glamour boy messing that up. I love those tweeners like Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes and Joey Dorsey. But then again, I was the guy hoping that we would strongly consider Dajuan Blair in the 1st round.

doc

January 7th, 2010
7:06 pm

aj i say amen to that. adelman has been huge to keep those scrubs competitive. karl did the same magic last year after losing camby, ai and melo through preseaon and after the season started, melo for a significant amount of time before he came back from injury. talk about band aids, no easy task. a friend of mine is into basketball and saw a couple of their games out in denver visiting his daughter in december last year and just shook his head as to who he placed and where to change the course of the game. i dont know if there are really any of those guys out there to make a difference mid stream like karl did in denver one year and hubie did in memphis. stay the course and let these guys work it out.

Astro Joe

January 7th, 2010
7:53 pm

doc, if someone promised me that we could get one of those guys, then I would sign-up for that. But the general track record of NBA GMs just doessn’t support the notion that we would get a definite improvement. More than likely, we would lose the 80% while seeking the 20%.

Speaking of GMs and their track records… how long does Dumars survive in Detroit? One could argue that he traded Chauncey Billups for Ben Gordon… while giving Rip an extension. Oh and I think that the owner may be paying for 3 head coaches. Chasing that brass ring (again) sounds great in theory but in practice, you often end up chasing your tail.

O'Brien

January 7th, 2010
8:23 pm

doc, AJ,

I dont think Woody is the best coach for the Hawks, but when I look at who is available, you guys are right. There is no guarantee that the next coach we bring in will do any better.

I’m sure all the available coaches have their warts, but we just dont know what they are because we havent watched them up close like we do the Hawks.

If Woody would bring in an established offensive coordinator , or an established assistant coach (someone who has been an NBA head coach before, or an assistant on a championship team), I think that would help tremendously.

doc

January 7th, 2010
8:24 pm

aj, dumars doesnt have billly knight to help him anymore. ;-)

doc

January 7th, 2010
8:25 pm

o’brien, careful what we ask for, eh?