ORLANDO–Quoth super commenter northcyde: “Everyone is talking about doubling Howard and their shotmaking, but no one is talking about our horrendous offensive deficiencies against Orlando.”
Agreed there hasn’t been much talk about the Hawks’ offensive struggles, but Brett LaGree is on it at Hoopinion:
“[T]he dominance of Orlando’s defense against Atlanta’s offense appears not to be an issue of interest on the eve of the series. Seriously, Orlando scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. The Hawks allowed 108.3 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. Orlando scored 111.9 points per 100 possessions in the four games against the Hawks. There’s certainly no reason for the Hawks not to try and do better but they didn’t defend Orlando badly (by their standards) while losing three of four games.
Conversely, the Hawks scored 113.5 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. The Magic allowed 105.1 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. The Hawks scored 93.5 points per 100 possessions in the four games against Orlando. There’s massive room (and need) for improvement when the Hawks have the ball.
Granted, the Hawks held Orlando below 1 point per possession in their March 24th victory and that’s the only recent example the Hawks have of beating Orlando. However, Orlando held the Hawks below 1 point per possession each time they played this season. I don’t think it’s realistic for the Hawks, against whom, it must be remembered, Milwaukee surpassed their season offensive efficiency average in 3 of 7 playoff games, to hold Orlando to 88% of their season offensive efficiency average often enough to win a seven-game playoff series.
The Hawks are going to have to find easier ways to score against the Magic to compete in this series. If they have any new and different ideas about how to accomplish that, they’re keeping them quiet.
I’ll throw in my two cents on the topic by booting up the Synergy Sports machine, which could possibly be the Best. Thing. Ever. The Hawks’ numbers by play type in the four games against Orlando:
Isolation: 67 plays, .93 points per possession, 27/59 FG (45.7%)
P-and-R ball handler: 52 plays, .66 points per possession, 9/42 FG (21.4%)
Post-up: 50 plays, .66 points per possession, 11/37 FG(29.7%)
P-and-R roll man: 13 plays, .895 points per possession, 3/9 FG (33.3%)
Spot-up: 89 plays, .975 points per possession, 31/70 FG (44.3%)
Off screen: 17 plays, .94 points per possession, 6/15 FG (40%)
Cut: 29 plays, .94 points per possession, 12/24 FG (50%)
Offensive rebounds: 19 plays, 1.45 points per possession, 9/11 FG (82%)
Transition: 36 plays, .94 points per possession, 14/24 FG (58.3%)
All other play types: 23 plays, .23 points per possession, 2/9 FG (22.2%)
Judging by those numbers, the Hawks probably shouldn’t try Dwight Howard and Co. in the paint. No surprise there. Without looking at each play, I’m also guessing their problems with the pick-and-roll dribbler scoring has to do with venturing into Orlando’s trees. The Hawks might try getting more stuff going to the basket off pick-and-rolls and cuts, and also create more spot-up opportunities. But those kind of plays require player and/or ball movement and the Hawks seem to do commit to these concepts only intermittently.
As for the Hawks players in those four games vs. Orlando:
Johnson: 139 min., .92 points per possession
Josh Smith: 120 min., .77 points per possession
Horford: 119 min., 1.07 points per possession
Crawford: 116 min., .927 points per possession
Williams: 112 min., .965 points per possession
Bibby: 101 min., 1.18 points per possession
Evans: 61 min., 1.76 points per possession
Pachulia: 61 min., .975 points per possession
Teague:18 min., .695 points per possession
West: 13 min., 2.0 points per possession
Joe Smith: 5 min., 2 points per possession
Clearly, this means Mario should play major minutes in this series.
–I picked the Magic in 5 for the paper but now don’t feel good about it. I think it’s an overreaction after I got suckered into thinking the Hawks would have no clunkers against the Bucks and win in 5. I read too much into that last regular-season road game at Milwaukee. Now I think maybe I’m reading too much into the Game 3 surrender and Game 5 meltdown against Milwaukee. Or maybe it’s because the AJC’s Mark Bradley, 0-3 in the first round, is here for Games 1 and 2. He’s picking the Hawks in 7, so I assume he’s counting on Jeff Schultz to make the trip for the series-clincher.
But, seriously, I look at the Magic and see a team with few real weaknesses, at least not many the Hawks are capable of exploiting. Their ability to get open 3-pointers and play smothering team defense will have the Hawks on their heels all series. Still, I believe the Hawks will give a good showing and lose in six.
– Both Orlando Sentinel columnists pick the Magic. George Diaz says Magic in five but will give them a “mulligan” if they finish it in six. His colleague Mike Bianchi says the Magic should beware the Hawks, whom he thinks will lose in seven:
The Hawks have had their wake-up call, much like the Magic did last year in the opening round against Philly when the inferior 76ers jumped out to 2-1 series lead and came within a Hedo Turkoglu buzzer-beater of going ahead 3-1.
“It’s a good analogy,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said when I asked if the Hawks of this year remind him of the Magic of last year. “They’re coming off a first-round series in which people weren’t inspired by — same as our first-round series last year. I think there are some definite similarities between how people were talking about a year ago and how people are talking about them now.
“That doesn’t translate into this gym. We all know how good they are. We have tremendous respect for them.”
–Super commenter O’Brien says: “It will be very important for Hawks to crash the boards too. In all 4 games this season, we lost the rebounding battle (-12,-10, -9, and -10).”
Smoove hears you: “We’ve got to box people out. They shoot a lot of threes and there are going to be a lot of long rebounds, so even the guards have to come in and help out. If we gang rebound, we will be cool.”
– Apparently Pietrus is fine after turning his ankle the other day.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.