Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 2: J.J. is All-NBA but is he fading away?

J.J. can't find his groove.

J.J. can't find his groove.

ORLANDO–A reminder that J.J. is considered to be among the best players in the league, at least by media types: He was named to the All-NBA Third Team, the league announced today. It’s the first time for J.J. and the first time the Hawks have had a player selected since Dikembe in 97-98.

The timing is interesting since J.J. is slumping in the playoffs. He’s not the only one, of course, but he’s the lead dog. Before the playoffs opened, J.J. said he knew that as the Hawks’ veteran star he would take the heat if they don’t meet expectations or get the glory if they make a breakthrough. He said he embraced that role. Now, though, both J.J. and Woody seem to want to avoid putting the onus on him to deliver a big game when the Hawks need it most.

Looking at the other guys on the All-NBA teams, all of them except maybe Bogut would be looked at to be The Man for their team in trying times. J.J. needs help–more from fellow All-Star Horford, second-team All-Defense Smoove, Sixth Man of the Year Jamal and Woody. But if the Hawks’ All-NBA star doesn’t come through it’s hard to see them making this a series. It also could end up costing him in free agency.

– You have to be an Insider to read it, but ESPN.com’s John Hollinger makes a case that Iso-heavy offenses like the Hawks and Blazers run are good for the regular season, not so good for the playoffs.

Atlanta, as the league’s third-best offense, should at least be able to battle these defenses [Milwaukee and Orlando] 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.

– In Game 1, the Hawks ran two isolation plays in the first quarter, one for Bibby (miss) and one for J.J. (a make, but it came just after a steal and Orlando’s defense hadn’t yet set). They ran four isos in that awful second quarter: Marvin (miss), Zaza (miss), J.J. (miss) and Jamal (miss). Of those six plays, all but two were long, challenged jump shots: Marvin got his layup blocked by Dwight Howard and Jamal missed on a runner near the end of the half.

– I covered Stan Van Gundy so this doesn’t surprise me. The guy is fanatical about not letting his team slip. And the Magic are aware of what happened against ‘Nique’s Celtics in ‘95. Still, I keep wondering what lesson there is to learn from a series they ended up winning, anyway.

– Slam Online ranks the Euroleague players and puts Childress at No. 5.

MC

815 comments Add your comment

northcyde

May 6th, 2010
4:33 pm

The captain says he will be aggressive tonight. Don’t let them trap you JJ. Get that shot up.

northcyde

May 6th, 2010
4:45 pm

When you look at JJ’s hotspot data for the 2010 playoffs on nba.com ( http://nba.com/hotspots ) . . you’ll see where he’s struggling from shooting wise. He’s ice cold from 3 . . and he’s having problems getting the floater to drop.

But the so- called low percentage shot ( the 16 – 23 ft long midrange jumper ) seems to be falling for him at around a 50% FG clip. That’s why I say that he just needs to get his shots up. It’ll be nice to see him get hot from three tonight though. If he’s open, I want him shooting that ball.

JJ the faciliator in this series is not going to work, if other people aren’t making shots. Play with a chip on your shoulder tonight man. Shut these people up about you and this team in general.

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
4:48 pm

another good read MC

i_am_soulstar

May 6th, 2010
5:05 pm

nice one MC, i think JJ turns it on tonight. I just hope he doesn’t shoot us out of the game if his shot’s not flowing.

merbertmoover

May 6th, 2010
5:08 pm

cmon hawks fans! let’s get crazy tonite baby! it was just one game baby! if you a bandwagon fan, get off the donkey, you know what im sayin? cmon guys, get pumped, the magic got all the calls, we hit the wall, but hey, its a new day baby! lets get pumped up, send our fearless flappers some love, some good karma, know what im sayin? caaaaaaaaaaaw!!!!!!!!!

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
5:15 pm

exactly who plays what position..? these 3 (who need to play big) look about the same height and build..

http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2010/04/flight-school/

terrell

May 6th, 2010
5:26 pm

Magic by 20+
Fire Woody!

hm

May 6th, 2010
5:26 pm

teage, mario, jj, josh, al

perfect blend of selfish/sharing

VenomSpitter

May 6th, 2010
5:28 pm

Will we see any adjustments?

I doubt it.

Panther08

May 6th, 2010
5:30 pm

As I have told so many people, Joe Johnson is not enough to get it done. He doesn’t have what it takes to be a SUPERSTAR….Don’t get me wrong he is an ALL-STAR…but when it comes to taking over a game by himself…He can’t do it like a SUPERSTAR (Kobe, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron) would do. Personally, I would like to see the Hawks go after Dwayne Wade in Free Agency and perhaps make a trade for Amare Stoudemire or a legitimate Center ….Its time for ATL sports team to start PAYING to win a CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

JMar

May 6th, 2010
5:30 pm

This not brain surgery, definitely not to people who have been watching Hawks basketball for the last half decade. Yes JJ will fade at a pace that will far outweigh the contract the Hawks would have to give him. No iso-Joe will not work in the playoffs, against teams who a) have better defenses (which is why they’re in the playoffs), b) will play harder defense because it is the playoffs, and c) have pre-series and mid-series to make adjustments if necessary, not an off-day or two in the middle of the season. Not to mention that JJ, while great, is third team, not Kobe or Lebron or Wade or Carmelo.

Panther08

May 6th, 2010
5:31 pm

And Jeff Teague should be getting more playing time….SERIOUSLY!!!

Show me state

May 6th, 2010
5:33 pm

I still stand behind this team if they lose by 1 or 50……….dats wat true fans do…….Get game 2 ATL…Go Hawks!!!!

The Truth

May 6th, 2010
5:36 pm

This statement by John Hollinger

“The Hawks have three games left to show that Iso-Joe can be as effective in May as it is between November and April.”

Some people have suggested the Hawks keep doing what they do and make no changes because that is what they do. I say that’s asinine since the playoffs are all about making adjustments as needed to win. For example, if ISO-Joe isn’t working, then please go to a plan B and subsequently even more plans if needed.

MX: “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
5:41 pm

Al Horford 790:

“Mike has to do a better job at getting us into something where we’re moving more..”

http://www.790thezone.com/instantreplay/Episodes.aspx?PID=1348

DHunt

May 6th, 2010
5:43 pm

hm, not a bad thought process at all. the more I look at it the more I like it. Bet you anything you never see that lineup while Woody is in charge. Mario is inactive tonight anyway.

JJ All NBA? Top 6 two guard in the league? OK. But maybe that says more about the state of the league than it does about JJ. Dude has looked unstoppable too many times to count, but he’s also looked pretty pedestrian on far too many occasions. The Hawks schizoid behavior can’t be traced directly JJ but he’s certainly a big part of it. Hawks fans need 12 more great games out of Joe. to have a chance at the NBA title Question is can we get that before we get 3 more bad ones.

Terrence

May 6th, 2010
5:48 pm

If the Hawks want to win tonight they have to do two things: 1. Rebound the basketball, offensively and defensively. 2. Foul Dwight Howard. 60% FG, 50% FT.

Ken Strickland

May 6th, 2010
5:50 pm

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM-very nice article, and the article by ESPN’s John Hollinger was simply outstanding and totally on point. If GM RSund is sincere about judging Woodson’s ability to coach and lead the Hawks in the playoffs, he should be gone after the team is eliminated. His OFF system, philosophy and coaching ability simply aren’t sufficient for a Hawk team with serious playoff aspirations and talent.

I still can’t fathom the criticism of JJ, while giving Bibby what amounts to a free pass. JJ has to cover for Bibby’s lack of speed, quickness, athleticism, consistency, inability to penetrate, defend PG’s, or anyone else for that matter, create for others, and beat on the ball pressure, which forces him to give the ball up above the 3pt line.

How do you justify having one of the NBA’s quickest, fastest and most athletic teams in the NBA, and end up ranking 2nd in slowest OFF?

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
5:52 pm

Whatever you may say about his playoff performance (and his current struggles are Woody’s fault more than they are his own), the All-NBA teams reward regular season performance. There is no question Joe deserved his spot, between the numbers he put up, the role he played on this team, and the success of this team. Props to him.

Interesting article by Hollinger… like all things Hollinger, I’m a little skeptical of the numbers-heavy approach, but it’s an interesting idea anyway. I’m not sure I follow the logic behind teams necessarily getting better at defending the iso the more they see it though… it seems to me that am offense that simplistic wouldn’t take a whole lot of adjustment time. I think if anything it has more to do with a) playoff defenses being better than average in general, and b) the intensity level rising, resulting in a higher percentage of shots getting contested.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
5:56 pm

In other news, I watched Toy Story today (don’t ask me why, wasn’t my choice). That movie is confusing as hell — there’s a character named Woody and a Mr. Potato-Head, but somehow they are NOT the same person. Weird.

The Truth

May 6th, 2010
6:05 pm

Najeh

I know there is an analogy in your comment some where but it is more effective left unseen :)

o.O-Mac-Town -Macon, Georgia- Westsider-O.o

May 6th, 2010
6:27 pm

In Game Adjustment to Mike Woodson = re-positioning his a$$ on the bench to a more comfortable sitting style.

JeJe

May 6th, 2010
6:29 pm

“If we can just be competitive here for four quarters and make it a game, win or lose,” he said. “Make it a game. And then you go home and handle your business at home, which we’ve done. Anything can happen, but it can’t just be lopsided like it was [Tuesday] night.”
-Woody

WTF is this MORON talking about?. We LOST to the Bucks at HOME, you dumb@$$. So you don’t even WANT to win tonight, but it’d be nice? Can someone please send this quote to the dumb@$$ ASG or NBA and get the moron FIRED?

FIRE WOODY

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
6:31 pm

opponents like this, we miss Josh Childress.. a slasher who’s game is suited for penetration. athletic but not finesse, at this point in his career would be getting 5-6 free throw attempts a game.

Derek

May 6th, 2010
6:37 pm

The biggest problem I see with the Hawks is the lack of a true leader. Let’s be honest Joe Johnson is not a leader. He will never be a leader. He was given the title because of his veteran status. Maybe, Mike Bibby should step up but I’m not he has the ability either. A true leader on the floor could help pull them through letdowns and lapses that they have.

Now, Woody! He is not the coach for the Hawks. I know that since he has been there the wins have increased each year but I think that’s solely because of the raw talent of the players. He does not have the ability to make adjustments after losses. You can watch a Hawks game and see them make the exact same mistakes as before. Atlanta needs a coach who is a very strong defensive coach and one who will install an offense that keeps the ball moving around the court. Way too many ISO’s. I will be rooting hard for the Hawks tonight because in spite of everything I LOVE THEM!

Hawks 4 lyfe

May 6th, 2010
6:39 pm

hawks need to be confident. they need to play smart. they have to be confident and find a way t controll dwight from getting into the point. he is going to but try to not let him get in so much. hawks have the ablity to win , i know it for sure. one game doesnt say anything. GO HAWKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blast

May 6th, 2010
6:56 pm

For the 1st time EVER, I am almost scared to watch a Hawks basketball game. My recurring question is: Will Hawks lose by 5, 15, 25, 40 or 55 points?

JeJe

May 6th, 2010
7:08 pm

We’ll lose tonight by about 16-18 if not 28

sleepy

May 6th, 2010
7:10 pm

At this point I just want them to play and have fun . That team I saw in the first game I did not recognize and it made me sick. They need to lose the whatever is weighing them down and go out and just play basketball.

jgsbrids

May 6th, 2010
7:13 pm

funny you would say that Blast–my old nickname for this team was “hawks down by _____.” you post the number. still love them and looking for a miracle tonight!

cp

May 6th, 2010
7:13 pm

The fact that Woodrow acts like we don’t play road games and home games are the only thing that matters says a lot about him as a leader. If he had his way the Hawks would play all games at home….. He said one adjustment tonight is to let Bibby guard Nelson, enough said. Listening to the comments Duck and Woodrow made shows that neither really believe the Hawks can win… If tonights game goes as I think it will, I will be getting my free agent wish list together. Probably have to be young cheap guys seeing how they don’t have much to spend…. Honestly I would rather the Hawks lose trying something different rather than lose doing the same ol same ol. Throw some different line ups out there. Cant get any worse than it did the other night… Move JJ to the sf, Crawford at the 2 and let Teague play the one…. At the least we get a pg who can put pressure on somebody and sets up his teammates for easy shots. Crawford can guard Barnes since he isn’t much of an offensive threat, and put JJ on Vince. He cant be any worse on him than Duck.

northcyde

May 6th, 2010
7:35 pm

You guys still haven’t learned a thing about this team. When faced with the most adversity, this team has almost ALWAYS answered the challenge with a great defensive game. When people doubt this team the most, is when they rise up.

Don’t be surprised if the Hawks don’t have the lead in this game with under 5 minutes to go. And don’t be surprised if they play one of their top 5 defensive games of the year . . . or see a Hawk “supernova” by someone on offense.

That’s how this team has rolled the entire year.

niremetal

May 6th, 2010
7:36 pm

I would be pleasantly shocked if JJ steps it up offensively tonight. His repertoire of running jumpers and hesitation-dribble layups just isn’t available against D-12. So unless he has one of those rare nights where he is deadeye out to 30 feet, I don’t see how he turns it on against the Magic. Not dissimilar from the issue that Gary Payton usually had when he played against LA in Shaq’s prime.

northcyde

May 6th, 2010
7:42 pm

And Woody REEFUSES to let this team panic.

Blast

May 6th, 2010
7:44 pm

Yeah, Hawks have bounced back from adversities they probably had no business being in, in the first place, but not on the road against Orlando. Would have given them more chance if this game was at home.

All I ask is they come in and compete. Don’t play like deer in headlights.

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
7:48 pm

anyone hear coach Johnson talk about how he misses developing talent in practice, watching that talent grow, and in the game watching that talent reveal itself or something like that..

VenomSpitter

May 6th, 2010
7:51 pm

Yea I heard it Bigdave. Man having a coach that can cultivate talent would be great.

The Truth

May 6th, 2010
7:52 pm

These are moments when the stars suppose to shine. We shall see…

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
7:59 pm

Avery Johnson
2 adjustments that need to be made:

better job defending the 3 by not helping as much on the penetration during pick and rolls.

ball movement, player movement.. ball move from weak side to strong side.

ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES BY THE WAY.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
8:03 pm

I don’t know if I’m as enthusiastic about Avery Johnson as the Hawks’ next coach as some of y’all are, but he was right on the money with his pre-game analysis.

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
8:04 pm

lets get it!

bigdave

May 6th, 2010
8:05 pm

im not sold on Johnson, but @ least he has a clue..

sleepy

May 6th, 2010
8:05 pm

Hubie doing the game gives me a positive vibe about tonight

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
8:05 pm

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. Like I said before Game 1, I’m done predicting this crazy azz team. But I KNOW there is no NBA team that’s 43 points better than any other NBA team. I am hoping this is a close game.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
8:08 pm

Howard with a bucket in the post. DON’T PANIC. LET HIM HAVE THOSE.

WHY???

May 6th, 2010
8:08 pm

Contain the 3s

Najeh Davenpoop

May 6th, 2010
8:09 pm

1:30 into the game, and it looks over already.

WHY???

May 6th, 2010
8:09 pm

man we may need a timeout quickly

VenomSpitter

May 6th, 2010
8:09 pm

It’s over already lol

WHY???

May 6th, 2010
8:10 pm

if bibby isn’t going to hit shots, put teague in to at least get in the way of nelson