Hawks problem is mirror image, not MVP

Yes, Derrick Rose is magnificent. Yes, he torched the Atlanta Hawks. This is what League MVPs do. You can’t stop them forever, you can only hope to slow them up. As Derrick Rose championed his team’s cause with 44 points on the way to a 99-82 victory, the casual observor would likely give the Chicago point guard all the credit.

The casual observor would be wrong, and that is not taking anything away from Rose, who had a fabulous bounce back game.

Chinks in the False Armor

Is there ever more cause for consternation than a team of guys who lose a game, and then can’t agree onwhy they lost, or what they need to do to win? It seems that we Hawks fans would be used to this by now, but then…should anybody have to get used to it? Courtesy of the inestimable Michael Cunningham (Hawks beat writer), the below post game quotes show the typical post-loss splintering of the Hawks’ psyche:

J.J. didn’t like the offensive approach: “It just seemed as if a lot of times we just ran a lot of pick-and-rolls and I was just kind of buried in the corner. I just thought we played into their hands. We didn’t do anything, I thought, to get our scorers the basketball to make plays. They come with the double team and they make us give it up. We can’t win like that. If you look at Game 1 it was nothing like that. Obviously they made adjustments but at the same time we have to stick with what got us here.” 

Honestly, I just got to force the issue,” Joe said. “In Game 4, I am definitely going to do that. I am not going to succumb to the double team and give it up every time because that’s what they want. We are playing right into their hands. I blame myself for that.”

Okay, so Joe knows that the double team strategy is killing the Hawks, but does he have the right answer? Does forcing the issue mean he’s going to hold the ball longer, or is he going to make the other team pay for doubling him? Here’s the problem – he can’t do that alone. If guys continue to stand around when he or Jamal get doubled, nothing will change. Well, except for the frustration factor, which will only go up.

And now the second team captain speaks:

Al: “We had too much one-on-one. When you do that, this team is too good defensively. We just need to do a better job moving the ball and running the offense the right way. If one guy is not running the offense right, it’s not going to work for others. So I think that’s our biggest problem right now on the offensive end.”

Al is telling the truth, but is he owning his contribution to the problem? It seems to me that the one-on-one was a result, at least in part, of other guys not stepping up and contributing offense. So who is Al blaming for not running the offense right? Jeff Teague? Joe Johnson? Jamal Crawford? Here’s the naked truth – 2nd year man Teague is easily having a better series than two-time all-star Al.

Funny thing is, our sometimes scapegoat sixth man gets it:

Whenever I’m at the top of the key, I see a second defender,” [Jamal] said. “They’re coming until I pass the ball. They’re kind of taking it out of my hands. That’s fine. I just want to make sure that we make them pay because we have an advantage
somewhere out there with two guys on me. if we don’t make them pay, then they’re going to continue to do it.”

Pain in the Paint

Of course, the Hawks aren’t just having offensive problems. And, they’re all too willing to focus on how they’re going to contain Derrick Rose. But, I contend – it’s not Rose that is beating them. Rose is magnifying Atlanta’s real problem, and that is the unwillingness to get down and dirty with the Bulls. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are good rebounders and hard workers, but neither guy fits the description of a goon or an enforcer. The same goes for Carlos Boozer, who has the look but hardly the mentality (much to the chagrin of Chicago fans). So what is the problem? Why are Al, Josh, and Marvin having problems with them on the glass? It isn’t athletic ability. It’s not health. As Hawks fan Astro Joe reminded me, it’s all HEART. Josh Smith showed more of this in last night’s game, but it wasn’t enough, and like with his cohort Al Horford, it came too late.

What makes this worse is the paltry performances from Chicago’s Carlos Boozer. Hawks fans aggravated with Josh Smith have something in common with Bulls fans in regard to Boozer, even though he has his teammates’ support. The Bulls’ power forward was supposed to be the #2 scoring option for Chicago, and has 20 point/10 rebound potential. The fact that he has only lived up to about half of that (the rebounding) only makes the Hawks’ low post shenanigans all the more heinous.

Face the Mirror

 Rose won’t score 44 points every night. His teammates are limited. But what they are capable of, the Hawks have allowed them to do only too well. The Bulls are winning the game by not letting the Hawks go with option #1 on offense (let their 2 shooting guards do most of the work), and by beating the Hawks literally everywhere else in the game. There is no excuse for this. You can’t beat the MVP on most nights. But you can beat his teammates.

That’s what the Hawks have to do to win.

Drew Adjustments

If Larry Drew wants physicality and the Hawks don’t provide it early on in game 4, he would be well served to inject Damien Wilkins and especially Zaza Pachulia into the game. There isn’t a single Hawk who works harder and more consistently on the glass and gets better position than Pachulia. He won’t back down from Chicago’s slender bigs (only Boozer is a thick body), and will likely leave some bruises as well. Wilkins probably can’t do a lot on the glass, but he’ll make thing tough in the driving lanes for Rose if he’s anywhere nearby, and he won’t do worse than Marvin Williams, who seems to have found himself on the back of a milk carton again. Besides, it may help light a fire under the starters if they have to watch the game from the bench for a while.

On the offensive side of the ball, the only answer to solving the Bulls’ defensive adjustments is to attack quickly, make the extra pass, make the SMART pass, and take smarter shots.

Of course, the question is whether or not the Hawks can all realize this at the same time, and put it into action.

 

Big Ray, Hawks Fan Nest Blog

135 comments Add your comment

Will

May 8th, 2011
9:44 am

Excuses, Excuses, their were to many bulls fans

We were in the wrong offense

we just could not get it going

we did not come out with any energy

This group of individuals they have assembled to be ATL Hawks are pathetic.
How do you come out in a nationally tv gm in the playoff at home, soldout crowd, not ready to play or “we did not have any energy tonight” how bout we wont pay your “azz” tonight.

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
11:25 am

Gotta be said: Rondo’s performance last night might have been the gutsiest that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Only thing that rivals it was Pete Sampras literally throwing up on the tennis court in the middle of a fifth set tiebreak, and then rallying to win the match.

Slim

May 8th, 2011
11:56 am

@BigDaddy

yes the league designated Al Horford an All Star center but that does not mean that Noah is not 6′11 and outrebounding Tim Duncan.
and Horford and Marvin as a “frontcourt” is not good defensively. Having an all star does not mean you get to win playing small ball.

Is Josh an All Star “Power” forward and center? No.
Because rebounding is a team effort and u need 3 guys crashing the boards (see Memphis: Battier 6′10, Randolph 6′9, Gasol 7′0)
Isn’t Josh a better rebounder and defender and option to get double teamed in the post leaving our shooters open when he plays the 3 as opposed to the 4?

Sometime we need to stop blaming the chinks in the armor and realize this lineup is not shooting 3s well enough to overcome its size. 6′10 “center” with a bunch of small perimeter players we went back to being Orlando.

Is Marvin dead weight as a starter but firepower off the bench?
Put Jason Collins back in.

Slim

May 8th, 2011
12:00 pm

Teague/Johnson/Smith/Horford/Collins

+ Josh has yet to see the post versus Deng
+ Horford can finally shoot off of doubles from Josh
+Deng cannot switch off to Joe because Bogans/Korver will be left to cover Josh (watch out for flops)
+ Joe vs Bogans = double teams
+ Collins can screen for Joe letting Horford focus on setting up for his jump shot instead of picking himself
-less spacing

+less spacing, more offensive rebounds, more attempts at the rim
+more offensive rebounds=opportunity to kick out for an open 3 if CHI is out of position

Bottom line: this lineup clogged the lane in the Regular Season and made Rose into a jump shooter and everyone else had terrible games. Hawks won.

Bleed red

May 8th, 2011
12:52 pm

Play the big white guy more so he can punish rose he won’t let him lay the ball up with out paying for it go za za

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
1:36 pm

Big Ray,

Sometimes JJ can’t get out of his own way.

Could J.J. help himself by making quicker decisions against pressure?

LD:“Without a doubt. When you know teams are playing you the way they are playing Joe, you have got to do things faster. That was something we put a lot of emphasis in at the start of the playoffs against Orlando is for him to do things faster. They are not going to let you and just jockey around with it. They are going to be on top of it right away. You have got to do things a lot faster.

Your moves have got to be quicker and then just up into your shot. Just jockeying around trying to create space and go one-on-one against a set defense the way that they play him, chances are it is going to be tough for him. But if he does things just a little quicker–coming off screens, looking to shoot the ball right away–those are the kind of things that free you up.”.

But is J.J. comfortable playing that way considering his deliberate style?

LD:“Comfortable? I don’t know. Capable? Yes. He has shown the ability to come off screens and shoot the ball. Certainly I have seen him go into moves a lot quicker. I don’t know how comfortable he is doing it but I know he is capable.”.

If JJ is going to get his shots up, he needs to go quick, hopefully before the double team comes. And if the double team does come, then he needs to make the right decision quickly. And his teamates need to be ready to help.

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
2:59 pm

@niremetal: “MC, Have you ever asked Josh what he thinks about fans loudly groaning and shouting “nooooo” when he goes to take a jumper?”

yes. he claims he doesn’t hear them. of course he does but that’s what he says..

Is is because Josh is in denial?

Big Ray

May 8th, 2011
3:15 pm

Big Daddy ,

First paragraph – well said. It’s easier to blame the MVP for being an MVP than it is to take ownership of one’s shortcomings elsewhere.

And that’s just it. The Hawks would rather whine about Rose being good or about the Bulls frontcourt being really aggressive. I don’t want to hear the whining. I want to see the physical reaction.

Big Ray

May 8th, 2011
3:20 pm

Speaking of physical reaction, I see the article by MC where the Hawks say they want to get physical with Derrick Rose. I call BS.

Get physical with Noah. With Boozer. With Deng. With Gibson. Get physical with the guys who are REALLY punking you. Focusing on getting Physical with Rose has only three outcomes – 1) He’ll score 10-15 points at the line, 2)Key players will get into early foul trouble, and 3) The Bulls will retaliate in kind.

I look at the way Luol Deng has been playing out there, specifically when it comes to guarding Joe Johnson, and I say…if only that were Marvin. Deng can shoot badly and score just 8 points. But if he gets 6 or more boards, hustles like a madman and harasses JJ like he did the last couple of games, then he’s more than earned his pay.

Geez, could we get that out of Marvin?

O’brien ,

Yes and no. Yes, he’s in denial. No, he doesn’t hear the fans in the stands. I mean come on, he doesn’t even hear LD, who is right in his left ear…

Big Ray

May 8th, 2011
3:22 pm

O’brien ,

Per your post on JJ…this is what kills me. He says all that, but he’s the same guy saying that if one guy is running the offense the wrong way, then everthing goes to crap. Now who might that one guy be? I have a clue…sometimes it’s HIM.

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
3:41 pm

Big Ray,

Hawks just dont know what it is to be physical. We are more of a finesse team, so we need physical players. Roster shake-up anyone?

And its hard for Josh and Al to be physical when LD might enforce his 2 foul rule.

But it is unacceptable the way Al has disappeared. I did not expect it from him. Hopefully, he gives us one of those 15 points, 15 rebs performances tonight.

And if Josh and Al are having good games, that will take some of the pressure of JJ.

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
3:43 pm

doc,

Mike Bibby for the playoffs:

21 mpg, 3.4 ppg, shooting 23% from the field, with 1 assist, and 1 reb per game.

Would you take a one armed Rondo over a healthy Bibby?

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
3:58 pm

O’B,

What Ray said.

Regardless, if he doesn’t hear them by the end of the playoffs, he needs to go.

doc

May 8th, 2011
4:12 pm

who would have believed at the start of the season that right now marc would be closer to the wcf than pau?

Tha Real Hawk

May 8th, 2011
5:11 pm

Jason Terry traded to Dallas for Antoine, Delk and a first round pick.
Where are they now?
He’s still in Dallas!!!

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
8:06 pm

From MC’s pregame blog;

“This is what it’s like to coach the Hawks sometimes. . .

L.D. looks at his computer screen, where Smoove’s shooting percentages by distance are displayed. He holds up a shooting chart of Josh’s misses and makes.

These are the tools L.D. uses to try to convince Josh to stop taking Js.

“I’ve had talks with him: ‘You can’t take those shots. You are not making them,’” he said. “When I talk to my players and I am making a point, I back it up with numbers and facts and video.”.

The fact that Josh continues to take bad shots despite all the evidence is very frustrating.

LD decides to start the big lineup. I think I would have started ZaZa instead of Collins, because Twin plays good position defense, but if the offense is not run through the guy he is guarding, he loses osme effectiveness. And he is not a good rebounder.

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
8:21 pm

Great minutes from Twin although he picked up 2 fouls in 6 minutes.

And great start for JJ. He is making his move quicker.

O'Brien

May 8th, 2011
8:25 pm

Man, who is this Boozer guy?

jlewis

May 8th, 2011
8:33 pm

JJ isnt going any quicker, he just isnt making an attempt to run the offense. Everyone makes it sound so simple, dont you think the bulls know the offense and we only have two scorers. No one is an offensive genius without any players. Additionally, LD is being forced into the same decisions as woody with a limited roster. JJ is not the problem, its the roster.

bo

May 8th, 2011
8:47 pm

The Hawks are in the playoffs and the lakers and spurs arent.wow

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
8:54 pm

So far, the Hawks have come to play. If nothing else, that’s good to see.

bo

May 8th, 2011
9:00 pm

As a lifelong Hawks fan,I also bacame a Lakers fan. What I saw today from the Lakers I realize I was just having a bad dream. We all know that when you are having a bad dream , you do something within the dream like flying or other things that assure you that you are dreaming. I am going on top of my roof right now and I am going to jump of and fly and then I will know everything is fine.

bo

May 8th, 2011
9:04 pm

thanks josh. Has anybody seen Al Horford

Melvin

May 8th, 2011
10:07 pm

4 of Marvin’s 5 shots (80%) have been block. My goodness…

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
10:13 pm

They called a phantom foul on Zaza when Boozer took a jumper. Marvin got blatantly fouled in the act of shooting 3 times without a whistle, and then got called for two ticky tack fouls on the other end. This is the worst officiating I’ve ever seen in a Hawks game.

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:23 pm

Down to the wire…

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:30 pm

Teague with the two dishes and the strong drives!

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:35 pm

Take Crawford out. We need D.

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:38 pm

Yeah! Teeeeeague! JT0! He’s earning it!

JT0!

Melvin

May 8th, 2011
10:38 pm

Jeff Teague, this is your Hawks team Sir…. I have officially passed you the keys….

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:48 pm

Yeah!

But the downside of this win is the sensation that we could easily be 3-1 or have swept these a-holes…

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
10:48 pm

We’re back boys!

vava74

May 8th, 2011
10:53 pm

4/4 and 2 dishes and a block just on the second half of the 4th quarter!

Yeah! Make them pay!

We should bear in mind that in game 6 Teague will be marked to be defended better.

But who they let free for that? Jamal? JJ? Al in the post?

Make them pay!

Melvin

May 8th, 2011
11:05 pm

I still can’t believe 80% of Marvin shots were block tonight… SMH

vava74

May 8th, 2011
11:07 pm

And as I said: limit CHI’s 3 point shots!

doc

May 8th, 2011
11:08 pm

I do love J SMASH!

vava74

May 8th, 2011
11:11 pm

Why? Why can’t Josh and Hawks play like this all the time?

Why?

vava74

May 8th, 2011
11:21 pm

Josh’s press conference is making me cringe…

… I have the distinctive sensation that Josh instead of learning and pick up from this point will come out shooting the long ball … So many questions about his shot selection and he will respond the wrong way…

vava74

May 8th, 2011
11:22 pm

56 out of 100 points in the paint

vava74

May 8th, 2011
11:28 pm

And again, more Zaza = more hustle.

More hustle = hawks win

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
11:48 pm

Melvin,

Did you see the plays? Marvin got clobbered on two of them and also was fouled on a third. On the third one, he got hit across the body without it really altering his path – in the playoffs, it was a foul that isn’t usually called, but the reason I bring it up is that Rose got to the line on the same type of play 3 different times during the game. And then Marvin got whistled for breathing on Bulls at the other end. Incredible.

As soon as the inadvertent whistle happened, I knew that the post-game commentary from the talking heads would be how the refs blew THAT call rather than the 8-10 ridiculous foul calls against the Hawks and the 6-8 ridiculous no-calls on the Bulls. It was so damned predictable. I still can’t believe Marvin got hit across the face with no whistle, and then Zaza breathed on Boozer’s elbow and was called for a shooting foul. Total BS. And you could tell the Hawks were pissed about it, especially in the first half.

The Hawks kept their energy level high. They were electric from the time the ball went up. It was the hardest I’ve EVER seen them play. If they can bottle that energy for 2 more games, they will get into the ECF. Unless Stern sends the refs another memo…

niremetal

May 8th, 2011
11:49 pm

Bah, blog monster ate a post where I b!tched about the refs. Ah well.

doc

May 9th, 2011
12:39 am

nire the refs sucked big time. i think they also missed a charge that should have been called on teague but it was far from make up as they missed so many the other way. rose is a protected commodity now and he gets the calls forever going forward. the foul will be called so you might as well make sure he feels it.

still reflecting back on how aggressive teague has been on defense. he plays rose straight up or follows korver running wildly through the maize of bulls like his shadow. yes as i called jt, jt0 last week, he has earned it.

geez, rose is so good.

Sautee

May 9th, 2011
1:50 am

doc,

I realize that you didn’t have the replay available, but Korver was clearly inside the dotted line on the Teague non-charge call.

Isn’t it amazing when J-Smash shows up?

vava74

May 9th, 2011
2:42 am

Only watched live the 4th quarter.

Watching now: 6.52 to go in the second and we already have 3-0 in calls/non-calls going the bulls’ way:

Foul on Marvin at the rim (block my *ss)
Foul on Pachulia at the rim.

Second quarter:

Phantom foul on Zaza – boozer to the line.

vava74

May 9th, 2011
2:46 am

Phantom call (3rd foul) on Horford with 5 to go in the 2nd.

4-0

doc

May 9th, 2011
7:13 am

no sautee i couldnt see it on the replays on the big tv and thanks. it loooked like he was far enough away from the basket. funny the only “blown” call by the officials was the one they admitted they didnt call for rose and called it an inadvertant whistle. they hacked with no calls, we slapped at thin air and call were made.

in stern rules you have to beat the refs, too, just as the mavs did. seems the lakers came undone when it wasnt going their way and more ron artest’s were uncovered on their team. really sorry to see bynum do that he is supposed to be better than that. if they dont get more than what marvin did after his incident then there is reason for pause to stop doing the nba and go on.

O'Brien

May 9th, 2011
8:17 am

Great team win. LD had a good plan, and the players executed well. And Teague looks like a veteran out there.

Props to the Hawks fans in the arena too. They provided some extra energy, and would not be outdone by the Bulls fans.

doc,

Very disappointed in Bynum too. Not only was it a punk move, but he also went after the smallest guy on the court. I think Lakers GM will call up the Magic’s GM and offer him anybody on the roster (except for Kobe) in a trade for Howard.

vava74

May 9th, 2011
8:34 am

Finished watching the game a few minutes ago.

There were at least 8 to 9 very clear blown calls going the Bulls favor.

Just in the third quarter Josh got fouled by Gibson twice (charge converted in 2 FT, dunk where he fell on his back with clear contact). There was a third call that I don’t recall. All in a span of 1 minute.

We benefited from 2 calls down the line: Teague’s charge (pretty clear) and Crawford’s foul on Rose, but Teague got fouled in one of his lay ups and no call, as it was the whole game when Teague got to the rack.

The latter call which has been said benefiting us (Rose 3FTs) IMO was doubtful, Crawford jumped vertically and at some point refs need to start calling these correctly.

If someone jumps vertically you should not be able to simply get yourself under and get the call.

So, in my book, the no call was a good call, although Salvatore has since said that he was wrong…

Talk about pressure… We should brace ourselves for an even worse showing by the refs in CHI but if Josh played like he did in the second half we should be able to compete.

Collins may have been limited by fouls but 2 dunks and 2 charges drawn. That’s worth 8 points.

Zaza with enough minutes almost invariably produces what we need from him. Sometimes he should shot that midrange jumper and do it with confidence like he did in the second quarter.

That would help keep defenses honest.

Diaper Al was much better tonight. Very few rebounds but one of them was KEY off Rose’s missed FT and you simply can’t contest his efficiency down low.

What is there to be afraid down low? When he took his body against Noah’s he simply dislodged him from the paint and dunked the ball at will. Gotta repeat that in CHI.

Great solidly quiet game by JJ. Did not force it in the 4th when CHI overplayed him, allowing us to get easy baskets off the double and triple teams.

Teague is showing that he can play at this level. Obviously that with Jamal and JJ getting double teamed he is benefiting from some space but those 4th quarter layups were simply sick.

And he added 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal on Rose!

doc

May 9th, 2011
9:47 am

yeah vava, in the first half, zaza clearly had a vertical hands up with no jump (because he cant) and rose ran right into it and they called zaza for it. the only way he could have not made contact would be to bring his hands down. he did absolutely nothing with his hands except hold them up. no call or call it as a charge into a set player. sautee said teague wasnt called because the defender had his feet inside the circle which i didnt see at the game on replay.