Atlanta Hawks: Dwight Howard not feeling his hometown Hawks (and more notes)
7:57 pmApril 17, 2011, by Michael Cunningham
Orlando–Well, so much for my theory that the Hawks could have let J.J. walk, pared down the rest of their payroll and then made a run at Dwight in 2012.
It sounds as if the Hometown Hawks aren’t good enough for Dwight. This is where I imagine my blog people, normally inclined to agree with Dwight on this matter, find your inner Hawk fandom and tell Dwight to STHU. Unless he really wants to come home and play for the Hawks, in which case, never mind.
Anyway, here are some next-day notes that didn’t make the cut for print . . .
Stan Van Gundy said the Hawks have identified Redick and Ryan Anderson as mismatches: “Clearly they are going to go at Ryan every time and go at J.J. virtually every time. We have got to be prepared to deal with those kind of things because those two guys help our offense and help give us a lot more space on the floor. So we need to play those guys at the offensive end and we need to find some ways to help them at the defensive end.”
Van Gundy and Magic GM Otis Smith both called out Turkoglu for looking to pass more than score off screens. “When he got 17 assists he turned into a point guard, pass first and shoot second,” Smith said. “He has to do it the other way around if you have the ability to score the ball, which he does.”
Translation: Turkoglu should be able to score on Smoove, and if he’s not, then he’s not really providing anything out there.
Smith said it’s going to take more than just a half a season for Arenas’ game to fit with the Magic, if it can at all: “I’m not sure. My thing with him now is he has to take care of the basketball, make open shots and defend his man.”
As might be expected from a coach with a defense-first mentality, the Magic didn’t spend much time going over their offense despite the Dwight-Jameer-or-nothing Game 1. “People focused on we only had two guys score but the bigger problem is we had 18 turnovers,” Van Gundy said. “If we can get that down to 10 or 12—every turnover is worth a little bit more than a point–then you cut six turnovers and you are [adding] about eight points.”
More Van Gundy on defense: “Where they really hurt us–and this is how they play– is perimeter pull-up jump shots. They only had eight layups in the game. Johnson, Crawford, Hinrich all hit pull-ups and obviously Horford gets his pick-and-pop jumpers. Our focus has been on protecting the paint but they are not really looking to get to the rim a whole lot.”
Translation: Expect the Magic to make the Hawks put the ball on the floor and drive into the land of Dwight iN Game 2. There was a time when I would have said the Hawks couldn’t adjust and pull off such a plan but I saw enough in Game 1 to make me think that maybe they can.
And, yes, that is one of those statements I may later regret because is there another team that can make you look stupid faster whenever you praise or criticism them?
Van Gundy on the value of size: “When I was first working with Bob McAdoo in Miami, and Bob had been one of the great shooting big men in the league, and he always said playing against smaller guys always gave him tremendous confidence. Because at the end of the day no matter how hard they played he knew he could always get his shot over the top. All he had to do was concentrate on making it. He didn’t have to adjust, he didn’t have to rush. That’s where the size gives them an advantage. They can just raise up. What we have got to do is do a better job of taking away their space to get the pull ups. We have got to get our help to them a little bit earlier and try to keep them out on the perimeter a little bit.”
I can tell you from my days covering the Heat that McAdoo can still stroke Js. I saw him take cash in shooting games from more than one naive rookie.
Van Gundy on the Hawks: “It’s not just that they don’t double team. They switch a lot of the time, they stay home. They are using their size to contest shots. They are going to basically play their defense one-on-one and they want their offense one-on-one. We made a couple of mistakes where they ran some good things and got stuff open but not many. It was basically: ‘At the end of the play we are going one-on-one.”
More Van Gundy: “Jameer comes on his pick-and-rolls and they don’t really rotate over. Dwight’s guy is just trying to get back to him and Hinrich has got to do the best job he can–or Joe Johnson or whoever–getting over the picks and play Jameer. They will help out of the corner a little bit but that guy is pretty much on his own. The other [Magic] players aren’t open and it limits your chances to move the ball so we have got to find some way to get into some ball movement and get other people involved because we don’t want it to be played just as a one-on-one game.”
It’s weird to hear the Magic talking about they need to share the ball when their All-NBA center was scary-efficient scoring machine. But doesn’t it kind of make sense at the same time?
L.D. on Orlando’s Dwight-or-nothing offense: “He was just manhandling us. They just kept posting and, to be honest, I might have done the same thing. You go with what’s working. He was very efficient in his post-ups. With that being said, it does create a problem with the other guys [with] are they being involved enough. My concern is not Dwight. My concern is the other guys.”
J.J. on timing his shots around the rim to avoid Dwight: “I try to get a good feel. I don’t know what they are going to do change up, but I know when I get to the basket, if the dump off is not there, I know he is coming trying to block my shots. I am just trying to get my shot off quick or get it up high enough where he can’t get it, or if he does get it then it’s a goal tending.”
Hinrich on getting in Jameer’s grill without getting whistled: “You have to be careful and be smart about your fouls. I just want to be aggressive. It seems when you are not so aggressive that’s when you get cheap fouls. Just be aggressive and try to play tough defensively and we did a pretty good job.”
L.D. on the core: “We are not that young team anymore. Having some experience under our belt, I think it is important going into any playoff season. One thing when you look at this team, it’s a little different than it’s been in the past. When teams make runs on us on the road you don’t see that sense of panic like you have in the past.”
L.D. on Twin vs. Dwight: “The things we need him to do against Dwight, he’s doing it. He is going to foul him at times, give up positioning at times. He’s going to get dunked on at times. The most important thing is to try to make him earn anything and when he does that he’s done his job.”
L.D. on No Twin vs. Dwight: “We didn’t play Jason last year. The reality is Jason is our best big defender. It’s one of the reasons why when I got the job, I was adamant that we re-signed Jason. I had Jason when I was in New Jersey and I’ve always looked at him as a guy who knows how to defend down low. At the end of the day when you look at the stat shot not be impressed but as a coach I watch the tape and I see the little things that he does away from the basketball.”
L.D. on if he’s content that staying home and letting Dwight get his is a winning strategy: “I’m not content but I may not have any choice. We don’t know how we will defend him come Tuesday night. All we know is what we have done in the past has worked and sometimes it hasn’t worked. Do we deviate from it? I’m not sure right now.”
L.D. said players lobbied him to abandon the Dwight Defense as he kept thrashing all of Atlanta’s big men. A key moment came when Arenas made a corner 3 on a broken defensive assignment in the second quarter.
“We defended it how we did last year,” L.D. said. “I saw a little bit of–I won’t say panic—but our guys thought it was time to make an adjustment, which I clearly did not think it was time because it was a one- or two-point ball game at the time. I’ve got my main three big guys on the bench with two fouls. As long as we kept it close I was going to continue to just play him head’s up as much as we could. I called timeout to reiterate, ‘That is not the game plan, we not not going to start opening up that game plan.’ I saw a little temptation might have been there but I was not going to do it at that time.”
Twin on that play: “We only had one mistake where we came on the double team and didn’t rotate. That was in the second quarter and L.D. quickly let us know that wasn’t the game plan.”
J.J. is all for sticking with the Dwight Defense: “If we can win, we will definitely keep it the same way. Hopefully he slows down throughout the series. As perimeters we pretty much have to stay home on their shooters because if their shooters are making shots they are going to be tough to beat.”
Al sounds as if he’s with it, too: “They are such a dangerous team they can make threes and score inside. We have to be able to live with one of them. For us we are trying to do our best job and not give them any clean looks from the 3-point line. The 3-point line is the biggest equalizer, so that’s our biggest focus.”
Van Gundy on Atlanta’s 3-point D: “Not that we got a lot of them but we had better looks last night than during the regular season [vs. the Hawks]. We missed six or seven corner threes. I don’t have an answer for that. They are not going to come off Ryan on anything, which is fine because that just opens up more space.”
J.J. said he came out looking to test Redick after he missed so much time with an injury: “Going right at him. For a guy who hasn’t played for 17 games obviously it is going to be a little difficult early. So we just wanted to try and come out and take advantage of that.”
Some media types keep asking the Hawks about last year’s playoffs and the Hawks keep shrugging off the questions. Said Al: “I kept telling people we left last year with last year, at least I did. When you start dwelling on the past and revenge and things like that, that’s when you get caught up and they can be in your head. The first game of this regular season [at Orlando], that’s when we were able to put it behind us.”