Letting it all hang out

If there was something the Atlanta Hawks could do wrong in any way, they did it in game 1.

That leaves little to discuss amongst us fans. Everybody is complaining, even many of us who are normally more patient. And why not? Is there anything acceptable or understandable about a 43-point loss to a team that is not necessarily vastly superior to the Hawks? I would say “no”, but then again, that does depend on whether or not you think the Magic are that much better than the Hawks. Better? Yes. Better by 43 points? Absolutely not. Longtime Hawks blogger and devoted fan Astro Joe suggested that the Hawks were tired, and we all know the effect fatigue can have on players. But these guys are pros, aren’t they? They have yet to play back-to-backs in this series, something that doesn’t happen in the playoffs anyway (correct me if I’m wrong). But what about mental fatigue. Oddly enough, TNT analyst Charles Barkley disagreed with the fatigue factor, suggesting that players are more energized in playoff settings. Ironically, the TNT crew didn’t sound much different than us. They were at a loss as to the performance offered by the Hawks. We could go on about this forever, but rather than figure out the most articulate ways possible to blame the coach, certain players, or everybody in the entire organization, let’s look at other things. That’s not to say that you can’t keep on complaining about the loss, if you haven’t gotten it out of your system, then by all means…speak your piece. In the meantime….

 

Taking offense to the offense

Forget defense. We know Orlando is a tough matchup, and it takes maximum effort and execution to defend them adequately, much less stop them for any period of time. Floor matchups from roster to roster contribute to this as well. The bigger problem? Has to be our offense. What we’re doing is not working. We’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Is it the chicken or the egg? Effort and execution go hand in hand, but the bottom line is that when the Hawks have the ball in their hands, they are not putting any pressure on the Orlando Magic. The Hawks thrive on offense via the fast break when they play well on defense. The Magic aren’t quite the same. Their offense thrives on good ball movement and running set plays, good perimeter shooting, and lobs inside to Dwight Howard. Make them defend, and they get a little worn out and frustrated, leading to less effective offensive plays when they have the ball.

What can the Hawks do to put pressure on the Magic? We discussed this to a point on the last blog, and one of the things that came up was Al Horford providing a steady mid-range threat. Horford didn’t do a good job of this in game 1, and as a result, Howard had little reason to come out of the post. With him in his element, it was more difficult to get him into foul trouble or score inside.

The Hawks also had trouble running set plays or even ISOs. After the first quarter, none of them were working at all. Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford were very ineffective, Horford was pressing when he actually tried to initiate offense, and Josh Smith’s playing time was limited by foul trouble. But what else do the Hawks do on offense? Do they have other options, or are they simply going to have to try and execute better in the “plays” they do run? Long-time Hawks fan Niremetal suggests a quick strike offense that doesn’t allow Orlando to get set in their defense and funnel everything to a waiting Dwight Howard. I’ll let him explain that one (and I liked the idea for the sake of trying something different to get a spark going), as I accidentally deleted his e-mail from my cell phone. Of course, we don’t know if Woody is willing to try something like that or not. Will he wait and see if the team can execute their normal plays better for the next game (or three), or will he stay the course?

What ideas do you have for the Hawks on offense? Should they let it all hang out by running the fast break as much as possible (even if it’s not off of defensive rebounds) and strike quickly on offense, or should they go with what they know, and try to be more focused? Is there an option C?

Guessing Game

What happens in game 2? We’ve accused the Hawks (accurately, I might add) of being schizophrenic in nature. But not against THIS opponent. In the regular season during the last two years, the Hawks have only played well enough to have a chance at beating the Magic twice. Neither contest involved a dominating performance by the Hawks. It’s been mostly been blowout losses, so “up and down” really doesn’t apply here. I still don’t think the game can be won even largely on the defensive end for the Hawks, but maybe I’m wrong. But again…what do you see happening in game 2?

320 comments Add your comment

JSS

May 5th, 2010
6:55 pm

I’d say run at them; but that would mean showing some heart and rebounding on the defensive end… By the way, trap them and get the ball out Nelson’s hands!

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Astro Joe

May 5th, 2010
7:41 pm

My fatigue statement was intended as a joke. The Hawks had a chance to get some rest but decided instead to earn additional frequent flyer miles (excuse the pun, I know that they aren’t on Delta eating peanuts and watching bad romantic comedies).

I like the approach Woody is taking to maintain the team’s spirits. He’s focusing on the window when they competed and performed well. He’s showing them that success is attainable. From there, he should be able to make some adjustments during tomorrow’s walk through… but it makes sense to first get them grounded (and attentive) before discussing changes. I suspect that he won’t yank his All-Star center after one foul tomorrow… one of the strangest and dumbest moves in coaching history.

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
7:50 pm

Here’s the email I sent ya, Ray. I figured it was a crazy enough idea that it wasn’t worth posting on the blog, but since you ratted on me already… ;)

The subject line was “Hail Mary idea for Game 2″:

Play Nellie Ball. Seriously. F*ck defense and push the ball upcourt after every basket. If you can’t get Josh or Al in transition, then rotate the ball for a quick 3-pointer. Just try to run them out of the gym. We might get killed, especially early in the game, but:

1) More possessions might mean early foul trouble for Dwight;
2) The one clear advantage we have over Orlando is our athleticism;
3) The Magic are not a good transition team or a good perimeter defensive team; and
4) Even if we lose, maybe we can wear out the Magic a bit.

Seriously, seven seconds or less. I generally hate that style of play, and it’s rarely a successful strategy to completely change your gameplan in the middle of a playoff series, but what is there to lose? Try a few minutes of run-n-gun with a lineup where the wings are some combo of Bibby/Jamal/JJ/Mo, the PF is Marvin, and the C is Josh/Al. Could it possibly be worse than game 1.

Of course, no chance of Woody going for this. But if nothing else, it might catch the Magic off guard.

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
7:54 pm

My far more moderate idea, which I did post on the last thread, was simply to put Horford on the high post and force the Magic to choose between leaving Al open for the midrange jumper or pulling Howard out of the lane to guard him.

tidog

May 5th, 2010
8:03 pm

Break down the defense with drive and dish action, No Magic guard can handle the Teague quickness if given the opportunity. The guards that have the ability to get by their defender must try. 2 to 3 bounces to the left then right and a hand in the face jump shot is recipe for a sweep. The backcourt has to step it up and I don’t mean launching ill advised jumpers.

O'Brien

May 5th, 2010
8:06 pm

nire,

Bibby is not a runner, and neither is JJ. The 2 guys who are most likely to run the ball up court is Josh and Al, so that could take away from the run-n-gun effectiveness.

Would you be open to Teague starting the game? If so, then maybe he could push the ball up the court. He is not a good shooter, but we have seen him get guys open looks (ZaZa, and Joe Smith), and he could at least stay with Nelson a little better than Bibby does. Plus when Bibby comes in off the bench, he can help stabilize the second unit, which Orlando always beats up on.

What the Hawks need to figure out is you can run even on a made basket. Not just off misses.

Another blogger suggested this during the season when we played the Magic, and northcyde mentioned it on MC’s blog too. What about starting ZaZa and bringing Al off the bench? Maybe ZaZa can lure him into a foul or two.

And that way, when Al comes in at the 6 or 7 minute mark, Dwight will not be as fresh, and more than likely, Mouse Daddy will give him a rest anyway.

Comments on starting Teague, or starting ZaZa?

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
8:37 pm

O’Brien,

I’m gonna start with a rant, because I’m absolutely sick of hearing the crap from your first paragraph. It’s absolute BS that Bibby and JJ don’t like to run. It’s beyond absurd to think that the Hawks have been top 5 in fastbreak points the past two years with a starting backcourt that’s running-averse. No matter how much the backcourt-bashing crew around here would like to pretend otherwise, Bibby and JJ run plenty. What they don’t do is run when they don’t have numbers, but that subtlety is lost on the people who are quick to blame our backcourt for our ills. Both JJ and Bibby ran fastbreaking offenses from the start of their respective careers.

Oh, and Steve Nash is one of the slowest PGs in the league. And how people keep ignoring that rather inconvenient fact is beyond me. You don’t have to be fast to run a fast-breaking team.

I agree that the Hawks need to run off made baskets. That was my point.

A top-5 fastbreaking team and you think it’s because our PF and C push the ball up. Please. Just because Al and Josh are good passers and ballhandlers for their respective positions does not mean they are better than our guards at either.

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
8:38 pm

Nash runs the break because he is creative and smart, not because he is fast. The fact that Nash is the best transition PG of this generation should debunk the idea that speed=run’n'gun

O'Brien

May 5th, 2010
8:49 pm

nire,

If JJ and Bibby like to run, then I am surprised that they dont average more assists off fast break opportunities. Because Woody has preached playing defense, getting the rebound, and run. And I am surprised that we dont average more dunks per game. (Disclaimer: I havent looked at any numbers, so I am going off the top of my head).

Maybe its because our defense is bad, so we dont get good runout opportunites. Sure, I have seen the occasional lob to Josh, but to me, there has been many a game where I have seen Bibby walk the ball up the court, only to hand off to JJ or Crawford on the wing.

It could be one of those instances where something is seen a few times, and for some reason, it seems like it happens more often that it does, so I could be wrong.

But it just looks to me that if Bibby was a runner, then the other guys would do a better job of getting up court quickly…

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
9:21 pm

O’Brien,

WE HAVE BEEN TOP 5 IN THE LEAGUE IN FAST BREAK POINTS EACH OF THE PAST TWO YEARS.

Astro Joe

May 5th, 2010
9:26 pm

Sorry, but benching your All-Star center with 0 fouls to start the game is an even worse idea than benching him with 1 foul in the 1st quarter. Assuming we keep Al and Orlando keeps D-12 and we don’t find someone that suggests we should move our All-Star center to the PF position, then guess what? Al needs to learn how to play effectively against Dwight at some point.

I understand that we look awful against this team, but I’m not quite ready for a scheme full of gimmicks, hook-and-ladders, statue of liberty and hide-the-ball-under-your-shirt stunts (although that may be why Collins was in so early). I may be ready to see each and every one of those stunts in Game 4, but not quite yet. And no, I’m not saying don’t make any adjustments until we’re down 3-luv, but there is a middle ground between what we did for 80+ games and asking Crawford to teach the team how to play Nellie ball.

doc

May 5th, 2010
9:32 pm

ray all we have to do is win at home then steal one on the road, right? simple stuff. ;-)

so we just need to wait until we get home and not panic. we have three more games to figure them out in orlando. the odds are with us! heh heh

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
9:36 pm

We averaged more fast break points than supposedly fast-paced Phoenix, Indiana, New Orleans, and Houston. The only other teams that have been top 5 in fast break points in each of the past 2 years (the only two years where Bibby has been here the whole year) are Golden State and Philly. The year before Bibby arrived, we were 20th.

And yeah – what you hinted at is exactly what is going on if you think Bibby suddenly lost interest in/ability to run when he arrived in Atlanta: You probably saw a few instances where you thought he should run, but didn’t, and assumed that must have happened lots of other times. The problems with that reasoning are 1) Bibby is probably a slightly better judge than you of when it’s smart to push the pace; and 2) you, like everyone else, only notice certain things – and if you had a preconceived notion that Bibby is slow and can’t/won’t run the break, you probably were looking (consciously or not) for instances that confirm that notion.

Last thing: People love to point out that Josh averaged more apg than Bibby this year. They conveniently ignore that Josh played 23% more minutes than Bibby. Bibby actually averaged 5.1 assists per 36 minutes, highest on the team among rotation players. Teague averaged 6.1 ap36, but also averaged 2.5 TOs p36 (compared to 1.5 for Bibby).

Sorry I snapped, but it irks me that people STILL say that every once in awhile, making it sound like our guards never push the pace and that Josh/Al are the only ones looking to push the pace on this team.

doc

May 5th, 2010
9:46 pm

agree AJ, that just sends a white flag to the other team and deflates al. again did anyone remember the look on horfords face as he left the floor to jason collins? and why was that guy out there now? does anyone expect him to play at playoff speed since the only action he has gotten is in practice?sorry that is another one of stupid woody’s moves. he should have played the guy at least some during the regular season. speed of the playoffs is one gear higher than the regualr season. no wonder he gets called for fouls as refs dont expect him to be there even before the play starts and figure if he is there then it must be a foul. heh heh

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
9:49 pm

But it just looks to me that if Bibby was a runner, then the other guys would do a better job of getting up court quickly…

This statement pretty much encapsulates the problem of your view. Why is it that you assume the cause and effect runs from “Bibby doesn’t run” to “other guys don’t get up the court quickly?” Wouldn’t it make just as much sense to assume that Bibby doesn’t run more because Josh and Al don’t get up the court quickly? In fact, wouldn’t that make more sense, since no PG with a brain pushes the pace in the NBA unless they have at least equal numbers?

Of course, all of those questions are kind of moot since WE HAVE BEEN TOP 5 IN THE LEAGUE IN FAST BREAK POINTS EACH OF THE PAST TWO YEARS. ;)

O'Brien

May 5th, 2010
10:03 pm

nire,

I guess perception can seem like reality sometimes.

O'Brien

May 5th, 2010
10:06 pm

Wasn’t Alvin Gentry one of the coaches we thought would be a good fit in ATL? He has the Suns actually trying to play defense…

Woody just messed up the timing for everybody, because Adleman was available, but Woody was already here.

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
10:15 pm

I like Gentry, O’Brien. He has worked under Larry Brown, Kevin Loughery, and Doug Collins in addition to D’Antoni, so he’s got as rich a variety of experiences to draw from as anyone in the league. And, of course, he’s been a head coach in his own right for four different teams. He’d been handed sh!t rosters in each of his head coaching stops before he arrived in Phoenix, but he’s the real deal as a head coach.

My first choice for Hawks’ coach is still Monty Williams, lead assistant out in Portland. That being said, I think he’s too loyal to McMillan to leave Portland.

Big Ray

May 5th, 2010
10:39 pm

Niremetal ,

I knew you had that e-mail somewhere. ;)

O’brien ,

Good post. A couple of things :

1) Both JJ and Bibby come from offenses where they ran plenty. Remember, JJ played with Steve Nash. If you didn’t run to at least the other half of the court, you weren’t involved in the offense, period. Bibby played a bit more half-court in his days with Sacramento, but even then he was moving around quite a bit.

Here’s the trick- neither guy has to go all that far to push the ball. If your finishers (Josh, Marvin, Al) get up the court ahead of them and beat or at least challenge the defense, the ball-handlers aren’t liable to need to go much past the 3 point line on a fast break.

2) In the post, I mentioned that the Hawks didn’t necessarily have to make all their fast break opportunities off of defensive rebounds. That was my way of trying to illustrate what Nire was saying, which is exactly what you said: Run, run, run, whether it comes off a rebound or otherwise. Keep those guys on their heels. I actually think it gives Teague a chance to contribute as well. Between the two teams, you probably won’t find a faster guy from end to end. And he tends to be elusive on the break. He can make good passes, or finish himself (dude loves to dunk, too).

And no, I’m not saying he should start. ;)

Doc ,

It always seems simple. You smarty-pants, you…

Big Ray

May 5th, 2010
10:40 pm

Astro Joe ,

The ill-timed extraction of Al Horford bothered me, too. I just never banged the drum on it because so much else was going wrong.

Big Ray

May 5th, 2010
10:44 pm

AJ ,

Woody panicked, pure and simple. Knee-jerk reaction. Hope he doesn’t do it again.

As for Al, all I can say is that you are right. I don’t know that we will be seeing (anytime soon, anyway) a player that would make us want to put Al at the 4 spot. So he will have to work on playing against Dwight. Other guys have surmounted worse odds. Ask nearly anybody who got to play Shaq in his younger years. Dwight is no Shaq. But I have faith Big Al will work hard on this.

Big Ray

May 5th, 2010
10:46 pm

Fact is, we’re getting a lot more out of Horford, sooner than we have out of any of the young players we’ve had in the last 6 years. It’s taken half the time for him to have the level of affect he is on this team, as it did for Josh Smith to have the level of effect he has on this team.

Did that make any sense?

O'Brien

May 5th, 2010
10:51 pm

nire,

I like the fact that despite having a top 5 PG in Steve Nash, Gentry still found consistent PT for his backup, Goran Dragic.

Monty Williams is supposed to be on Philly’s list to be interviewed too.

It will be interesting to see what adjustments Woody and the players make for tomorrow. And how do they respond when Orlando goes on their run..

doc

May 5th, 2010
11:06 pm

not really but i got it anyway ray. ;-)

Melvin

May 5th, 2010
11:08 pm

“Play Nellie Ball. Seriously. F*ck defense and push the ball upcourt after every basket.”

Nire,

Are your flip flopping? What, you don’t give a $h!t about defense now… LOL

Melvin

May 5th, 2010
11:11 pm

Although, we may be one of the better fast breaking teams. I still think this team was quicker and more atheletic with Chills. Hawks missed his length on defense, baseline skills and ability to finished on the break….

niremetal

May 5th, 2010
11:11 pm

Melvin,

There’s a reason I said it was a Hail Mary. You know I’m desperate when I open an email with “f*ck defense”…

doc

May 5th, 2010
11:31 pm

ray, since they are the same age have they had the same effect on the team in the same amount of time? or do you discount or expect josh to have as much moxie out of high school as he would out of college? not quite fair to josh.

Chris Humpherys

May 5th, 2010
11:53 pm

O'Brien

May 6th, 2010
6:48 am

Watching “Los Suns” play, there is nothing like having a top 5 PG like Nash, especially down the stretch of a close game. Whenever there was a mismatch on offense, the Suns exploited it and outplayed San Antonio down the stretch. Richard Jefferson has not given the Spurs what they expected.

Gentry’s plan is to not play Steve Nash until about the 6 minute mark of the fourth quarter. But he does have a bench that kept them in the game. Sund has to improve our bench to give our coach more options.

After watching the Magic and the Suns, another thing that stands out to me, is Hawks need shooters. Yeah, we have Bibby, JJ, and Crawford, but we need a guy like Mike Miller or Kyle Korver, someone who can knock down the 3 consistently.

Marvin was supposed to help out there, but when was the last time he attempted and made a 3?

I do think we should run the ball every chance we get though, because we suck at the half-court offense (6 years later, why is that?). But if we do run, our bench will need to perform so that our guys are not too tired down the stretch.

i_am_soulstar

May 6th, 2010
8:58 am

Run, Run, Run! The Hawks don’t have many advantages over the Magic, but a great playoff coach can take those advantages and magnify them times 10. If we’re outmatched as far as talent, and athleticism and youth is all we have over the Magic, then let’s run them out of the gym. Some would say Scott Skiles did it against us, using our switching combined with weak perimeter defense.

And I’m all for Horford playing the high post to pull Howard out of the paint. He’s the highest percentage shooter on the Hawks, MUST EXPLOIT THIS!

But I like that Woody is focusing more on the first quarter to keep the guys positive and show them what works.

niremetal

May 6th, 2010
9:08 am

O’Brien,

You really think the Suns have a better bench than we do in terms of talent??? Frankly, I think the difference between the way Gentry uses his bench and Woody uses his is a textbook example of what’s wrong with Woody’s approach to using the bench. Gentry used a deep rotation throughout the year, which both kept his starters fresher for the playoffs and made his bench more ready to play critical minutes in the playoffs.

I think if you traded the Hawks’ bench for theirs, the Suns would have won even more games while we would have remained about the same. I mean, would you rather have Amundson than Joe Smith? And as much as familiarity breeds contempt, I don’t think there are many NBA GMs who wouldn’t take Mo Evans over Jared Dudley. I’d take Jamal over Barbosa. Dragic versus Teague? Well, that depends on how much you think their relative performance is a function of the minutes they get and the system they play in rather than their actual abilities. Zaza versus Frye? Kind of apples and oranges since their skill sets are so different and since Frye actually plays more minutes than the starter. In fact, I would wager that Zaza would actually start over Collins if the Suns signed him tomorrow, since Gentry seems to prefer to have a more traditional big man start the game and Zaza >> Collins.

vava74

May 6th, 2010
9:21 am

A few quick bullets:

Bibby’s problem with nire’s strategy would be that he doesn’t have the stamina (out of shape and too heavy) to withstand a fast pace for long stretches.

By the 5 minute mark he would turn blue and drop dead (he almost did in a game we played too fast for him – Toronto?).

Al coming out when got called his first foul… Do I really need to comment?!

Woody coaches scared. His lack of bench use is symptomatic.

Finally, it’s kind of sad to witness the “desperation of faith”.

After a very short period of lack of rationality the game 3 loss against the Bucks brought me back to reality fast.

Now I am merely a bystander to a road kill waiting to happen (well… almost)

niremetal

May 6th, 2010
9:25 am

On another note…

Here’s my theory on why our leading scorer has averaged 17ppg on 38% shooting against the Magic during the past 2 years.

JJ’s bread and butter is his ability to hit those little 5-8 foot floaters and runners in the lane. That simply isn’t a shot that’s available against the Magic because of Dwight Howard. Remember earlier in the year when JJ tried that shot on consecutive possessions, suffered two Howard blocks, and faded to the perimeter for the remainder of the game?

JJ does draw a decent amount of contact, but 1) he is big and strong enough that it takes a LOT of contact for him to get thrown off course; 2) he doesn’t flop or dive like LeBron or Wade; and 3) he doesn’t, as you said, bark at the refs. As a result, he doesn’t get many foul calls.

The result of those two things is that JJ struggles to score against the Magic, at least in our ISO system. Actually, “struggles” is too weak a word. He’s terrible against the Magic. Unless he is having one of his once-every-few-weeks where he is hitting 30-footers like they are free throws, he just doesn’t have the scoring toolkit to be effective as a scorer.

Now, with a different coach, perhaps there would be an adjustment where more of JJ’s touches came off screens and pick-and-rolls, like D’Antoni did with him in Phoenix. But something tells me not to hold my breath on that…

Hawks go home get sweep

May 6th, 2010
9:41 am

Oh thry will be better lose by 24 tonight n josh smith will get ejected in game after gettin pissed off at orlando n cuss refs n coach Woodson will juts adjust tie and sit as we watch Magic turn us into doves! Then the fun back here at Philps arena before crowds of magic fans n some hawks fans cryin as they show there cool losein by 28 in Game 3 and for best Game four…Score be Orlando 124 atlanta chickens 72!

Astro Joe

May 6th, 2010
9:44 am

doc, come on now. Remember when John Salley and Robert Parrish played for the Bulls? They NEVER played during the regular season, but they would brush the dust and dead skin off themselves during the playoffs and make a 5-8 minute impact. Last I checked, we had tremendous regular season production out of the center position so I’m not feeling like the position was mismanaged in any way. I want Collins to play against D-12, but only after Horford has 2 1st half fouls or 4 2nd half fouls. I’m even fine with Collins coming in before Zaza… but to take Horford out after 1 foul almost suggests a lack of trust, and that is something that we haven’t seen previously with Woody (in terms of his starters).

OB, I had also mentioned Gentry previously. Now I’m on the Keith Smart campaign. Unfortunately, the Hawks have not captured this city’s attention over the past 3 years (as if there were so many other post-season teams to cheer on), so we may need a “gimmick” to drawer the fans and bring in more revenue. Smart has been Nellie’s main assistant for a few years and should have the ability to connect with the modern player. As long as he doesn’t bring some of those ridiculous player management practices that Nellie uses (like benching Crafword indefinitely), then I’d like to see him get serious consideration. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Sam Cassell get an interview. I know he only has 1 year of coaching experience but he’s been a leader from jump-street and again, should be able to relate to our players. Since we have a self-managed team that can produce 53-wins and a 3rd seed all by themselves, Sund could gamble on a young coach who can grow as the team continues to do for themselves.

nire, isn’t suggesting that an assistant is too loyal to his boss like saying the assistant has no head coaching aspirations? Surely he isn’t waiting for Nate to become some team’s GM. I understand not taking a lateral position, but not accepting a promotion?

Astro Joe

May 6th, 2010
10:02 am

doc, remember when Salley and Parrish played for the Bulls? They didn’t play during the regular season, they brushed off the dust and dead skin during the playoffs and Phil used them to make a 5-8 minute impact during a key game. I have no problems with Woody using Collins in a similar manner. And I also have no issues with our regular season production at the center position… Collins was fine sitting there because Horford and Zaza were more than capable of holding down the 5-spot.

OB, I was also on the Gentry train for all the reasons nire mentioned. I figured that he would eventually take some of the Phoenix offense with traditional defense and create a winning equation. I’m personally not sold on his roster (sorry, I’m not a big Amare or J-Rich fan), but I admire his coaching skills.

I’d like to think that Keith Smart could bring some of the Nellie offense with some of the Bobby Knight defensive discipline and likewise carve out a winning formula for a team. Of course, I’m assuming that Smart wouldn’t bring some of those dysfunctional mind games that Nellie’s employs on his players (Jamal must view Woody as a saint compared to Nellie, as Woody genuinely cares for his players). And I have grown to recognize that this city needs a gimmick to support their pro teams. Winning is insufficient. I’m of the opinion that if Phil Jackson coached this team with the same roster and we won 60 games/season, the Hawks would still struggle to put butts in seats. Maybe a version of Nellie-ball would make the product more appealing to casual fans. Although, it is hard to imagine that we could be more exciting in home games than we were this year (2nd best home record in the league).

nire, interesting opinion about Monty Williams. If an assistant is too loyal to accept a promotion, then I have to question his ambition to become a head coach. Unless he is willing to wait (and hope) that McMillan becomes a team’s GM.

O'Brien

May 6th, 2010
10:20 am

In last night’s close game against the Spurs, the Suns backup PG was 0-5, 0 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds. But Gentry still lef thim out there for 13 minutes, in a close game.

In the playoffs, the Suns have had 4 games decided by 9 pointr or less. However, in all 8 postseason games, they have played 10 players every single name, and no player has received less than 9 mpg.

I know that rotations tend to shorten in the playoffs, but I like what the Suns and Gentry are doing.

Astro Joe

May 6th, 2010
10:30 am

OB, our back-up PG gets more minutes… his name is Jamal Crawford.

Interesting to see that Fratello may be interviewing with the Hornets, considering that their owner allegedly is struggling financially with that team. Maybe he believes that it is better to invest more in a coach than in a few players. I certainly agree with that concept. I would gladly trim off $4-5M off the roster salaries to get an elite coach on the bench.

Marcus

May 6th, 2010
10:35 am

This is a comment I made here LAST YEAR after our playoff run came to an end …. and it seems it still applies:

["I think we have all the talent in the world to get Ws, but common theme among most playoff teams is a certain "toughness" and the associated instinct that comes with that.

Zaza gives us effort and some of that, but I am talking a Charles oakley-Anthony Mason (NY Knicks)/DET Bady Boys (pick any starter)/'80s Celtics (C. Maxwell and crew) kind that bring a certain level of "enforcement".

are we soft? I would say 'No', but we seem not to have the playoff-hardend guy that will get in the face of a fellow Hawk or an opponent, technical foul be damned, to take the opponents best blow if it means a 'W' for our team.

By no means do I advocate on-court violence for our Hawks, but just like the 80s Pistons (finally overcoming the Celtics), 90s Bulls (overcoming the DET Bad Boys), and even the contemporary Cavaliers (same Pistons w/Ben Wallace ), we, just like them, have to forge our playoff resolve vs. the comtemporary 'best team in the conference" and hope it bodes well for the future. "]

Marcus

May 6th, 2010
10:54 am

From my few posts, you guys know I am all about looking ahead …. even in the midst of our present playoff push :)

I think someone openly pined for Josh Childress during last years 1st/2nd round playoffs, esp. vs. CLE.

Taka a gander at this recent article on SI.com re: the other Josh

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/ian_thomsen/04/23/countdown.euroleague/1.html

taking special note of this quote at the end of the article:

“Consider how much one year in Europe did to elevate and harden Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings. Childress, 26, has undergone similar improvements. Not only is he tougher, but NBA scouts say he has become a better shooter and a more versatile decision-maker. As one NBA team executive put it, “He’s making more money over there than he could have made in the NBA, and he’s going to come back with a better understanding of how to play different positions. At the end of the day, he made a good decision to go over there.”

But he insists he hasn’t decided whether to stay with Olympiakos for a third year, or to try to return to the NBA before the anticipated lockout of 2011.”

Now, couple this … with the recent news I thought I had heard about the govt. in Greece basically getting a buyout/grace from debt from the IMF (International Money Fund?) due to its economy ….. How big a role is THAT for Josh

——–
Would Josh C. be open to come back to the ATL and is Mr. Sund capable of doing a mea culpa with Kumbaya playing over the Philips Arena speakers?!?!?!?

Would we have the cap room?

Would Josh be willing to be a super-sub (aka Manu Ginobli) coming off the bench with Jamal (or becoming our 6th man if JJ leaves and Jamal is elevated to starting SG)?

Heck, there was an article/blog/rumor that Mo Evans may opt out this summer, so Josh can even have his old jersey no. back (LOL)

Chris Moore

May 6th, 2010
11:27 am

The Hawks just dont have the players to match-up against the Magic. One change should be to throw Randolph Morris on Dwight Howard instead of Jason Collins. I hope next season Marvin comes off the bench, Josh Smith can be the 3 again,Horford moves to a 4 and we get a FREAKING CENTER that can score!!!!!!

Astro Joe

May 6th, 2010
11:29 am

Marcus, yes I want Afro-Man back and yes, we are soft. A big teddy bear with a big pink bow and a tiara on it’s head kind of soft.

Astro Joe

May 6th, 2010
11:39 am

O'Brien

May 6th, 2010
11:59 am

AJ,

We need a backup PG though (I dont care if its not Teague). I dont think we should have our 2 SGs being our backup PGs.

I would love to see Chills back. he knows his role, and plays off the ball. If only Sund and Chills can make up, our next coach would love to have him on our team.

Has anybody looked at Crawford’s numbers in the playoffs? 14.5, 3, and 3.

Know what Flip gave us in the playoffs last year? 12, 3, and 3. Very similar numbers. Except Flip was not SMOY, and he was not making $9.4 mil. Crawford needs to step his game up big time, because JJ (who needs to step it up too) needs help.

doc

May 6th, 2010
12:15 pm

AJ you are comparing salley and parish with collins when both of them already had rings? and both know for being in shape never varying a pound over their playing weight during their careers. two longevity guys? look under another rock please before you expect me to accept that comparison. collins heyday and short one at that, was a decade ago.

niremetal

May 6th, 2010
1:00 pm

Remember Sekou’s last blog post, where I talked about the Blazers’ and Hawks’ similiarities? And remember all those times all of us (except AJ, of course) talked about how the ISO offense won’t cut it in the playoffs, where teams can gameplan for 4-7 straight games against the same team?

Well, take a gander at John Hollinger’s latest on ESPN:

I wrote an article recently about playoff myths — things people think change in the playoffs, but in fact don’t.

However, there’s another piece to that puzzle. Perhaps there are things people don’t think change in the playoffs, but in fact do.

I may have accidentally stumbled upon one in observing my two “home” teams, Atlanta and Portland, compete in the playoffs over the past two seasons. Watching the Hawks in particular, nearly every commentator has been shocked by how little ball movement their offense generates and how many times they end up isolating Joe Johnson while everybody else stands around and watches.

This complaint might sound familiar to folks in the Northwest, because it’s not altogether different from what the Blazers do with Brandon Roy. Both teams’ fan bases constantly complain about the lack of originality and shameless predictably inherent in such an attack.

The similarities don’t end there. Both teams are coached by former players — Mike Woodson for Atlanta and Nate McMillan for Portland — with a no-nonsense, old-school mentality.

And both have been wildly successful with this system. In fact, if you look at the numbers, you wonder what everybody’s upset about. Both Atlanta and Portland are far better offensive teams than people realize — their slow pace, low turnover rate and monstrous offensive rebounding numbers mask their efficiency.

In the regular season, Atlanta played the league’s fourth-slowest pace and the Blazers played the slowest, so their points-per-game numbers aren’t reflective of how well they played at the offensive end. Neither are their shooting percentages: The Hawks were only 14th in true shooting percentage at 54.5 and the Blazers barely ahead of them at 54.7.

Yet if you look at the offensive efficiency standings, the two clubs had few peers. Atlanta, believe it or not, had the league’s third-best offense this season at 108.9 points per 100 possessions, while the Blazers were eighth despite being wracked by injuries. This was actually just more of the same — a season ago a healthier Portland team was second, while Atlanta (without the scoring of Jamal Crawford off the bench) was 10th.

It turns out the iso-heavy offense has some benefits. Though hard on the eyes, the “iso-Joe” and “iso-Brandon” attacks produce remarkably few turnovers. Since both Roy and Johnson are good ballhandlers and nothing technically precise was asked of the other players, Atlanta and Portland were first and second, respectively, in avoiding turnovers.

Additionally, perhaps because they knew when to time their runs to the board while Johnson and Roy created shots, both Atlanta and Portland landed in the top five in offensive rebound rate — each grabbed 28.4 percent of missed shots.

In other words, theirs is a volume strategy. The Hawks and Blazers might not take better shots than other teams, but they take a lot more of them. Over time, that gives them enough of an advantage to make them potent offensive squads overall.

So what’s the problem?

Apparently, there isn’t one … until Game 83. Remember when I was talking about things that change in the playoffs? One change is that these iso-heavy offenses apparently have a lot more trouble when opponents have time to game plan against them in a playoff series.

Take a look at the playoff results from these teams the past two seasons, and the conclusion is hard to ignore. If this happened in any one playoff series, we might be able to dismiss it as a short-term fluke. But the fact that it’s happened six times in six series tells us that maybe something about isolation-heavy offenses doesn’t function well in an environment in which opponents have several days to scout, game-plan and match up for this specific tactic.

We’ll start with Portland. The Blazers were the second-best offense in 2008-09 in the regular season, and met the fourth-best defense from Houston in the first round. Based on the opponent, we would have expected some drop-off from the Blazers, yes, but among the 16 playoff teams, they were only eighth in offensive efficiency.

The Blazers were as successful as before at avoiding turnovers, but they couldn’t make shots and couldn’t get the misses. In particular, the Rockets eliminated their second shots, taking the league’s top regular-season offensive rebounding team down to 11th among 16 playoff teams. Portland’s TS percentage also dropped from eighth among 30 teams to 12th out of 16.

In 2009-10, Portland faced a much weaker defensive team in Phoenix, but basically the same thing happened. While some of this can be pinned on Roy’s injury, the numerical changes were virtually identical to a year earlier — they were just as good at avoiding turnovers, but missed a lot more shots and didn’t rebound nearly as many of them.

Let’s move on to Atlanta. In 2008-09 the Hawks played 11 playoff games, a larger sample than the Blazers have to offer, and seven of them were against a fairly average Miami defense (the other four, however, were against a robust Cleveland D).

The same thing happened that befell the Blazers: Atlanta stopped making shots. The Hawks had the second-worst TS percentage of any playoff team, and finished the postseason 13th in offensive efficiency.

This year, we’re seeing the same movie. The Hawks have faced two very strong defenses, with Milwaukee ranking third in Defensive Efficiency and Orlando second. But while seven of their eight games were against the Bucks, Milwaukee was without perhaps its best defender in center Andrew Bogut.

Nonetheless, the results have been the same.

Atlanta, as the league’s third-best offense, should at least be able to battle these defenses to a draw. But even before Tuesday’s Game 1 implosion against Orlando, they were struggling. The Hawks can’t make shots, ranking just 14th out of 16 teams in postseason TS percentage. While they’ve still been able to generate second shots (they lead all teams in playoff Offensive Rebound Rate) and have been somewhat successful at avoiding turnovers, the net result put the Hawks 11th among the 16 playoff teams in postseason Offensive Efficiency.

So what is it? Perhaps the Hawks and Blazers have just had some bad games against some pretty good defenses. But between the two, we’ve built up a 31-game sample showing that something more nefarious might be at work.

Obviously, this has important implications for Atlanta’s Game 2 in Orlando on Thursday. Iso-Joe has had its moments; Game 4 of the 2008 Boston series, for instance, when Johnson single-handedly tore apart one of the best defensive teams in history. But in the aggregate, its failures have been far greater than its successes, and it’s notable that the most similar offensive team has faced similar troubles.

Is there something about iso-heavy offenses that makes them vulnerable in the playoffs? We can’t say it with certainty yet, but the case is building rapidly. The Hawks have three games left to show that Iso-Joe can be as effective in May as it is between November and April.

O'Brien

May 6th, 2010
1:28 pm

I like Al’s interviews. He usually tells it like it is.

“On the road, our biggets problems are mental.” And when asked about the ISOs, he says it starts up top, and a big part of it is up to Bibby to get them into their sets, but sometimes, they just let guys do whatever”.

nire,

The interesting thing about the article, is what would Nate McMillan do if he was the coach of the Hawks? It sounds like he would run ISO JJ too.

I’ve always thought that Nate was a good coach, especially being able to help hold Portland keep it together will all those injuries. But I dont like the ISO dominated offenses. We need a system, and the right players to run that system.

doc

May 6th, 2010
2:01 pm

as i have said many times this basketbal philosophy of “offense” reminds me of a woody hayes football team of three yards and a cloud of dust. it minimizes errors by controlling who handles the ball and looks terribly efficient when it is working well. the problem is it doesnt do well against certain types defenses nor does it come from behind well so it is limited by its own lack of creativity. the lack of turnovers in both instances is due again to lack of ball movement, not because of skills of all the players involved. both woody’s seem to think fewer things can happen if you move it on the ground rather than in the air.

thanks for this article nire and keeping us on the crest of information