Atlanta Hawks: On Doubling Dwight

This doesn't do anything about those 3-point shooters.

This doesn't do anything about those 3-point shooters.

Finally got to unleash the new toy to get a survey of how the Hawks fared this season defending Dwight Howard with Al as the primary defender, with and without help.

It’s a limited analysis because it only includes those times Howard posted against Horford and attempted a shot. That means it’s missing those plays when Howard posted up other Hawks defenders, his shot attempts on other play types, and also how he influenced the offense when he got the ball but didn’t shoot or even when he had an effect without touching the ball. (Hey, the new toy is dope, but I had to cut myself off at some point.)

Well, I decided to look at one element of Howard’s offensive influence when he doesn’t take a shot: the Magic’s 3-point attempts when the Hawks double-teamed him. So I booted up all 103 of the Magic’s 3-point attempts in four games against the Hawks and looked to see how they got them. Again, this is a limited analysis of Dwight’s influence when he doesn’t shoot because it doesn’t include the 2-pointers he helps create for teammates with passes or just his presence. The breakdown (holla if my math is jacked up):

Nov. 26 (93-76 Hawks loss)

10/31 3FG total
3/6 Dwight-created
7/25 other

Jan. 9 (113-81 Hawks loss)

12/28 3FG total
2/3 Dwight-created
10/25 other

Jan. 30 (104-86 Hawks loss)

7/23 3FG total
1/3 Dwight-created
6/20 other

March 24 (W 86-84)

6/21 3FG total
0/1 Dwight-created
6/20 other

Total 3-pointers: 35/103
3-point attempts created by Dwight doubles: 6/13
3-point attempts created in other ways: 29/90

It’s that last line that got my attention. It was crazy to see how many different ways the Magic got open 3-pointers . They used ball screens, pin-down screens, hand-offs, drive-and-kicks, pick-and-pops, and simple (but fast) ball reversals. There’s no hesitation. The Magic are always looking for 3. They are ready to fire when they get space and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are cold or hot for the game. The Magic don’t even need to involve Dwight in all that action because they are so good at moving the ball. It’s not just the guards, either–forwards Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson get in on it, too. When Jameer Nelson came back to play in the last game against the Hawks he added yet another element with his quickness and savvy.

Before the Hawks even begin to think about defending Dwight, they have to deal with all that going on at the 3-point line. It takes great awareness to do it and, well, I don’t have to tell you that’s not always been a strong suit for the Hawks.

“It is sort of like ‘pick your poison’ as far as defending them,” Woody said. “We’ve tried all kinds of ways.”

The Magic got hot a few times against the Hawks. In the November victory they made 4 of their last 8 to stymie any Hawks comeback attempt. The Magic made five in a row during the Jan. 9 beatdown of the Hawks. Even thought their overall 3-point percentage was poor in the third game, the Magic had a key spurt when they made 4 of 5.

No wonder when Smoove was asked what stood out in his mind about the regular-season series, he said: “It seems like they make all their shots against us.”

Not quite–the Magic missed a handful of good looks in the final meeting. But I know what Smoove means. It’s got to be physically taxing chasing around all those shooters–I got tired just watching it. And then when you do all that work and the Magic is moving the ball and they get an open 3 and make it, it’s got to be hard on the psyche, too.

“We can’t get discouraged if they make some threes,” Woody said. “I’ve watched teams that play them, and they start bombing threes and then you get away from your original gameplan. Yeah, we are going to have to make adjustments on the fly. But I don’t want our guys to get discouraged because they make threes. We make threes [too]. It goes both ways.”

MC

98 comments Add your comment

Grandad

May 4th, 2010
1:41 am

*Chris Kaman
*Brooke Lopez
*David West
*Carlos Boozer
Beginning with Kaman, in ascending order,
these are the next five Bigs in regular season scoring avg.,
above [DH].
Would we be worried about stopping kaman?
Plus, [DH] cannot make FT’s [56%] reg.season.
He rebounds & defends, ‘THAT’ is what make him special.
Play solid “TEAM” Defense!

“That oughta’ do it” ‘Shooter’ “Hoosiers” (1986)

josh

May 4th, 2010
1:49 am

interesting – great research mc. yeah, it should be interesting what gameplan they come up with to slow the shooters down.

Grandad

May 4th, 2010
2:03 am

*excellent analysis Michael.

I still say:
Let Marv guard him!
[reasons on last blog]

If I may, I would like to quote a famous former ‘possum:
“If all else fails, play dead”!

Clyde

May 4th, 2010
2:03 am

Gilley

May 4th, 2010
2:28 am

I think we should put the pressure on our All-Star Al Horford in stopping Dwight Howard. Meaning, don’t double immediately and fake the double and let Dwight win the game for them and not the star players. And also foul when needed and go at him to get him in foul trouble. Doubling gets the Magic open looks and we dont need them to get open shots. Also, Joe Johnson is going to have to guard Jameer Nelson because Mike Bibby doesn’t stand a chance. He abused the heck out of Raymond Felton.

Clyde

May 4th, 2010
2:44 am

“I think we should put the pressure on our All-Star Al Horford in stopping Dwight Howard.” SMH

FIRE WOODY

Lefth00K

May 4th, 2010
5:24 am

Great in-depth work on the article and blog today MC. You and DOB should give Ledbetter some blogging lessons.

decatur g (formerly known as Marcus)

May 4th, 2010
6:28 am

Even though I missed ATL/MIL game 6 on TV, I heard we threw some 2-3 matchup zone @ MIL to mixx things up.
Is is possible that, for short durations/carefully-chosen game situation, we could do the same or a 3-2 or any other typically collegiate b-ball zone at ORL to throw a curve ball and give the players a breather from all the running around on our staple switching/man-to-man D?
As I recall from watching college b-ball in the 80s/90s, a 3-2 zone leaves us vulnerable on the wings, box-and-1 is for dominant big-men but also leaves open spots at the top of the 3-point arc for good jump shooters, as does a 1-3-1 zone.
Jim Boeheim send help.

JeJe

May 4th, 2010
6:31 am

F THERE’S ONE REASON TO USE THE 29 BIG MEN ON THE TEAM THAT DON’T PLAY, THIS SERIES IS IT.

WOODSON NEEDS TO !@#$ING US COLLINS AND RANDMO AND USE THEIR FOULS. DO NOT USE YOUR LAMEASS 6.5 MAN ROTATION AND EXPECT TO WIN. AND THE FACT U DONT KNOW WHAT DEFENSE TO USE ON DWIGHT IS PATHETIC. U KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS LEAGUE

FIRE WOODY

O'Brien

May 4th, 2010
7:21 am

“Yeah, we are going to have to make adjustments on the fly”. I can’t believe Woody is talking about making adjustments on the fly. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The key for the Hawks will to be give D12 different looks. Double him sometimes, play him straight up sometimes. However, if we get burned a few times off the double by open shooters, then we need to stay on the shooters more, play Dwight one on one, and send him to the FT line.

We have Al, ZaZa, Jason Collins, RandMo and Joe Smith. Thats alot of fouls. Use them up if we have to…

JSS

May 4th, 2010
7:39 am

Finally!!! I’ve been saying all alone, don’t go crazy, hedge a little bit on Howard in the beginning. Quick traps, but stay man on the shooters until they show they can beat you on the dribble. Then and only then throw some switches, get them (the rest of Magic’s jump shooters) off the 3 point line and make move. They tend to shoot “lights out” against the Hawks. Horford was right. The assistants and the scouts must have pointed out this now to the players. I have heard Jim Todd twice pointing out the tendencies package (video and computer printouts) that are available to players. They’ve got to watch tape and prepare as well as the coaches.

MsDee

May 4th, 2010
7:40 am

I agree with Josh, it does seem like the Magic makes all their shots when they play us. But we still should look at tapes where other teams were able to win games against them and also, we should see how Charlotte were able to keep Dwight in foul trouble..little-by-litte, we could beat this team if and only if we follow the RIGHT stragedy the correct way!!

Also, wouldnt it be something if Boston could some how win the series with the Cavs, and we some how win it with the Magic…Hawks and Boston in the ECF!?!? Wow and we would have home court advantage!! Wow, I must be dreaming….WAKE UP!!

JSS

May 4th, 2010
7:51 am

@JeJe…
Choose, Randolph or Collins, it is one or the other? They are the team’s 13th man…

Nacho

May 4th, 2010
8:14 am

Rondo has 19 assists last night. Bibby will not have that many assist in ANY series.

We need a point guard who is more than someone who hands the ball off at the mid court. We need a point guard who can guard anyone. We need a PG who can create.

Teague don’t count because we would need a coach to make that work.

ant banks

May 4th, 2010
8:30 am

MC ET AL,

the magic shoot about 44% from 3pt land, that means that they MISS 56% of 3pts. HAWKS MUST GET 60 REBOUNDS. they can’t allow the magic to get 2nd chance shots on the 56% of the missed 3pts.

who will step up and be a dennis rodman, reboundin’ machine? WHO?

Section 303

May 4th, 2010
8:42 am

Michael, that is good stuff. I’m at work, so only could only skim. Was wondering what their 3 pt % is with Howard on the floor vs when he is not on the floor. He may create even more shots for them than the stats indicate.

Also, seen a lot of talk about Howard, but what about Lewis? I have heard Hawks assistants talk about how Lewis pulls Josh Smith out of the lane when the Hawks are on D. This opens things up a ton for the Magic. I am interested to see if Woody keeps Smith on Lewis or puts him somewhere else. And, will the Hawks try zone?

Hawks can beat these guys. I would like to see Woody use Collins a little bit this series. Just let him beat on Howard every game. Who really gives a sh#t if he fouls out?

GeeMack

May 4th, 2010
8:48 am

Great work MC,

I think doubling D12 is the basis for giving the Magic the series.

The biggest problem the Hawks have is covering the 3 point line.

That’s where guys like J-Will, Ryan Anderson, Peitrus, Lewis, Carter, & Nelson kills the Hawks.

Those guys don’t hesistate on the 3 point shot at all.

Al Horford has show us enough on the offensive, end to match whatever output D12 has.

I think harder traps on the pick & rolls will greatly decrease the amount of open 3 point attempt the Hawks surrender.

Also I think the Hawks should really give thought to using a bigger body on Nelson (Marvin, West, & Mo) to take him out of his rythmn.

The Truth

May 4th, 2010
8:50 am

Didn’t Josh get the memo? Orlando makes all their shots (against the Hawks) because our defense gives up too much space for easy looks. Simply, the Hawks are not contesting their shots enough. ARE WE TALKIN BOUT PRACTICE MAN? That is the way it seems when the Hawks plays Orlando. It is practice shoot-around for the Orlando shooters most of the time. We are not going to win this series trying to out shoot them from the 3-point line. Instead we must out defend them, and out work them for 4-quarters to win. Even though Charlotte got swept, they played a stingy defense and made the Orlando shooters look ugly and kept the scores low. If the Hornets had our offense, the outcome of that series would have been different. Maybe Woody should give his buddy (LB) a call and talk defense.

The Truth

May 4th, 2010
8:52 am

correction: “if the Bobcats had our offense”

doc

May 4th, 2010
9:04 am

yeah woody, we make threes, too. only we dont come close to the same ball movement required that the celts and magic do, nor is there the same player movement as they work to get free. it is our downfall, as we instead see the occasional to frequent dribble, depending on the mood, then fall away three at the buzzer with no one except the dribbler in the action.

doc

May 4th, 2010
9:04 am

oh and is making quick adjustments on the fly every three games or so?

truthspitter

May 4th, 2010
9:09 am

The Truth: I agree that Woody should give LB a call even though I don’t like LB’s team to team whoring. I hope Woody gave him a call, good day

welikebaseball2

May 4th, 2010
9:15 am

Really, really good work Michael. I hate to say that our winning is dependent on the Magic simply missing shots, but I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. Of course we have to rotate & stay up on their shooters, but we frankly need the Magic to have a bad shooting night…or two…or three…or four.

Samuel

May 4th, 2010
9:30 am

I still think we should double him early, close out on their shooters and play the percentages. If we try to match up one on one with DH it will only get Al into foul trouble and Howard’s dunks will get their excitement level up. I would much rather play a team who shoots 3’s cause the percentages are “always” in your favor.

Woody=COY

Atlanta Fawks

May 4th, 2010
9:32 am

Look in the mirror and say without laughing – THE HAWKS ARE GOING TO WIN THIS SERIES.

Can’t do it can you? Fire Woody!

Hawks Hack

May 4th, 2010
9:36 am

Lets do this!!! We got to steal game 1 period!! Shurt down Rashard Lewis and you get a W… he is the X Factor.

Hawk n the Ham

May 4th, 2010
9:37 am

Woody really needs to constantly switch from Zone & Switching defense. Keep the Magic’s pick & roll offense guessing.

This is a series where Crawford needs to take the ball to the hole. Crawford is the best guy on the team to create something in the paint and draw a foul. Bibby is too slow and JJ only shoots runners in the paint (which seldom will ever draw a foul). Get Dwight in FOUL TROUBLE! Crawdaddy – Do your thing!

If you plan on doubling Dwight down low, you need to do it out of Zone. Because if you are on your switching defense, chances are one of the defenders on Dwight by the time you double him will be Bibby. And that’s just not going to make that much of a difference. If you can double him with Horford, and either Smoove or Marvin, you will have a better chance of Dwight turning it over. He doesn’t get happy feet like Perkins, but he does pass really terrible with pressure.

Once you got your defense on Dwight, you have to worry about the other 4 guys on the floor waiting to rotate for the open 3. Oh crap, I forgot about those guys. There’s more people on the floor than just Dwight? Crap, back to the Hawk n the Ham drawing board! :-/

Hawks Fan In New Orleans

May 4th, 2010
9:44 am

Doubling Dwight is series suicide. HE IS NOT THE OFFENSIVE THREAT WOODY THINKS HE IS. Lewis, Peitrus and co are the threats.

Mr. Phil(formerly Scoobysnacks(formerly Mr Fill(formerly(Mr SixFive))))

May 4th, 2010
9:53 am

Doubling Howard will allow Nelson, Lewis, and Pietrus to get off.

I am far more concerned with how we are going to guard Jameer. Ask the Bobcats why they are at home right now. It wasn’t Mr. Howard. He barely played.

And does anyone think Bibby is a better on the ball defender than raymond Felton?

wilmer

May 4th, 2010
10:38 am

you’ve spent so much time figuring out how to contain Howard that you forget that the MAGIC are a team. Even if somebody is having a bad shooting night, somebody else comes through. Good Teams are not made of superstars, they are made of excellent players, surrounded by very good playes and some hard working players who give it all if needed. That’s why the Magic are defending Easter Conference Champions…Atlanta has no chance.

Joey

May 4th, 2010
10:55 am

Woodson: “Yeah, we are going to have to make adjustments on the fly.”

Me: Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahhahahah!

VenomSpitter

May 4th, 2010
10:56 am

Where was Samuel during Game 3,4,5 of the Bucks series. He wasn’t calling Woody COY then. He wasn’t even here. Phony chump.

theight

May 4th, 2010
10:58 am

i don’t see the point in double teaming dwight. He is not going to put 30 or 40 pts. I would rather leave horford and zaza one on one with him and not give up the 3 ball. The three has always killed the hawks in the playoffs. Its never been the main scorer and the superstar player that has killed them, its always been the supporting cast.

gdg73

May 4th, 2010
11:00 am

Deactivate Mario West and activate Randolph Morris. Throw him, Collins. Zaza. and Horford at him. Let them play him head up.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 4th, 2010
11:06 am

“I hate to say that our winning is dependent on the Magic simply missing shots, but I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. ”

No matter how good the Magic shooters may be, they are not going to make shots consistently if every shot is contested. This is what the Hawks did on March 24 and they ended up winning. The key is to get a hand in every face and do the best they can to limit the Magic second chances. Contesting every shot becomes much more difficult when you have to worry ablut rotating instead of just sticking with one man.

One thing that I don’t think has been pointed out yet is that the Magic often cut through the lane when Howard is doubled as well, leading to easy layups and dunks. This is just as damaging as the open 3’s caused by doubling.

Hawk n the Ham makes a good point about switching up defensive looks though. Everything I have said about defending Orlando should be the base defense, but that doesn’t mean the Hawks should stick with that the entire series. As we saw in the previous series, when you play the same team over and over again, that team will adjust to what you try to do, and at that point you have to make counter-adjustments. It will be much harder for the Magic to adjust to the Hawks if the Hawks throw many different defensive looks at them.

Nacho

May 4th, 2010
11:09 am

If someone is dominant but only hits 51% of foul shots, wouldn’t you use a lot of fouls against him?

Do you think that Woody has ever considered this?

Woody’s only strategy is deciding if Bibby is going to hand the ball off on the left or right side.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 4th, 2010
11:11 am

“I am far more concerned with how we are going to guard Jameer.”

Put Joe or Marvin on him and let Bibby cover a shooter, preferably one who is not likely to post him up.

oldmike

May 4th, 2010
11:15 am

Just play aggressive hard nosed D and move the ball to the open man. Limit the Iso Joe poundings and see what happens. Use the bench for more than token minutes. The last 2 games should tell Coach that we can win (handily) without JJ dominating the offense.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 4th, 2010
11:21 am

The problem with employing Hack-a-Dwight as a strategy is that it gets the Magic into the bonus, and although Dwight might suck at free throws, every other Magic player is damn near automatic. The best strategy to frustrate him is to do what the Bobcats did — drive the ball at him relentlessly, no matter how many shots he blocks, until you get him into foul trouble. Atlanta is a more talented team than Charlotte and should be able to do this more successfully than the Bobcats did. I’m not saying they shouldn’t foul Dwight, especially if a backup is in position to foul and Dwight is in position to score, but that shouldn’t be a strategy they use consistently.

VenomSpitter

May 4th, 2010
11:21 am

I dont think thats a good plan Najeh. The Magic aren’t stupid. They know Bibby is a horrendous defender and they’ll attack bibby with whoever bibby is guarding.

doc

May 4th, 2010
11:22 am

samuel, it hasnt worked the last 6 of 7 and the only time we moved away from that strategy we held close to win. you got woody disease. howard is not offensive player of the year but defensive, let us not make him out to be a scorer. let him have thirty points and 10 of 25 at the line and hold the other guys in check.

if we let nelson run or their scorers free looks and able to put it down when unchallenged from the three we are doomed. that is what it looks like, when howard is in the picture then they make close to fifty percent which is huge from the three line where you just need to get 33% to keep up with 50% elsewhere on the floor. also they are putting up huge numbers against us from inside the arc when unchallenged and it is not all layins by point guards throw that in their with jameer and we are doomed in four like the bobcats were.

BT

May 4th, 2010
11:22 am

I’ve taken this a bit farther using the statistics info at AJC:
2 pts 2 pts pts_per 3 pts 3 pts pts_per Total
Team made taken shot made taken shot Shots
ATLANTA 2657 5346 .994 524 1455 1.080 6801
ORLANDO 2164 4153 1.042 841 2241 1.126 6394

3 pointers result in 10% higher production for both teams. Obviously, Bibby, Crawford, and Johnson key for Atlanta. Orlando gets slightly higher production per shot than Atlanta, but Atlanta averaged 6% more shots this season than Orlando. Must be better rebounding and steals.

pluckthehawks

May 4th, 2010
11:24 am

I would be men and play him as opposed to the Bobcat method of thuggary and lack of skill. Man up and attempt to stop him rather than girl slap, grab, arm wrench, dry hump, bear hug and full nelson like the pathetic unskilled Bobcats centers tried….oh and it translated to wins for them too….NOT!

N.B.

May 4th, 2010
11:27 am

You know, I’d rather take my chances with Cleveland or Boston in this round. I am typically a glass half full guy, but I believe I’m a little double minded with this series. I don’t see any weak links w/ the Magic line-up…Do you???

drmaryb

May 4th, 2010
11:30 am

BLAH ….. BLAH ….. BLAH!

What are the. Magic going to do about the Hawks?

pluckthehawks

May 4th, 2010
11:31 am

Yes kids, Dwight is not that good, our shooters miss alot, we don’t offensive rebound and we get in foul trouble so I’m sure it will be the Hawks in 4….Pesky regular season 3 loses to the Magic by 22 per game and the one win on a prayer should not matter or the Hawks stellar road recoed over the last 10 games.

The Real Hawk

May 4th, 2010
11:31 am

If we double Howard the 3-pointers will kill us. Just make him work for his shots. No tiny fouls but work anyone against him all game. Keep the fresh bodies on him and make the outside shooters go against our switching defense. It’s the only way.

pluckthehawks

May 4th, 2010
11:32 am

The Magic will probably just dominate the Hawks as usual…make me a sandwich when it is over.

Hawk n the Ham

May 4th, 2010
11:33 am

drmaryb

Play zone. :lol:

sleepy

May 4th, 2010
11:37 am

LOL @ Woody saying pretty much the same thing I said in the last blog in regards to getting caught up in there runs. Smoove and Al have that bad where Howard dunks on them and they go into a shell you have to play through that and there three point barrages which is all the Bobcats did which is why the game was always close

I would not double Dwight but choose to keep the shooters out of it especially after a such a long layoff .

the key to this series is gonna be the Horford /Crawford high screen and roll . That is where we want to attack Dwight and then when he chases Craw off that screen looking for the block Al is trailing him right to the basket for either the dumpoff for the lay in or put back .

We gotta remember that 3 pt shooting is the ultimate frontrunner skill. When you are ahead everyone even the scrubs can rain them down on you but when they are behind they tighten and that takes the scrubs out of the game . So its important to come out early set the tone,keep it close and try and get the lead even if its only by 3-5 pts .