From what I’m hearing, the TNT talkers spent a lot of time last night ragging on the Hawks for their poor shot selection. This just in. . . .
I can imagine the collective shrugs of my blog people who know this team and have become accustomed to (if not totally accepting of) its weaknesses. I also figure you are annoyed by the national nit-picking of those warts by people just now paying attention to the Hawks and who hadn’t bothered to take a moment to look at numbers which clearly show they love jump shots (and are pretty good at making them).
I assure you it’s nothing personal. The same thing happened at this time last year. People who hadn’t watched the Hawks all year and/or analyze their tendencies were appalled to discover that Joe spent a lot of time dribbling on one side of the floor as his teammates watched or that Josh gets frustrated by calls and loses focus.
I remember my response to puzzled Orlando media types querying me about those topics: “Um, yeah. That’s the Hawks.” And whenever I would make an observation about the team they cover regularly, they would say: “Um, yeah. That’s the Magic.”
So here we are again. The Hawks are getting roasted for being the Hawks. We’ve seen it the last three games: The Hawks built a sizable lead by generally taking good shots and making them, then lost it by generally taking bad shots and missing them (or missing more of the good ones).
It’s not as if the Hawks don’t understand what’s going on.
“We have to be smarter with our shot selection, especially when we are up,” Al said. “I think guys want to put it away with one play, one big three or something. But it doesn’t work that way. If you are not hitting you have to do something different. Attack more, change it up.”
How long have we been hearing that from these guys? It’s April 25 and so it’s doubtful they are going to change their habits now. And, really, oftentimes the Hawks are only encouraged to keep jacking Js by their early success.
Consider Game 4. According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Hawks had five isolation plays in the first quarter and scored a robust eight points, all on jump shots. In the second quarter they scored three points on two isos. In the third they scored three points on five isos. And in the final period, they scored seven points on eight isos.
In all, the Hawks scored 22 points on on 20 isolation plays in Game 4, with all but four of those points by way of jumper. I’m guessing the TNT talkers weren’t ripping the Hawks for shooting too many Js when they had it rolling early.
The problem isn’t that the Hawks can’t score that way but, as Al points out, they still don’t seem to be able to grasp that when that way is not working and then find another way (though J.J. getting to the basket and to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter was a positive step).
“The last couple games then third-quarter shot selection has been a problem,” L.D. said. “Not being patient enough in moving the basketball. When we do move the ball and have been patient we’ve gotten good things out of it. When we start pounding the ball and we start playing a little one-on-one it gets a little stagnant.
“We watch film every day and point these things out. You hope that, particularly in the playoffs, these guys can see where they do get stagnant and they can say, ‘OK, here is what we need to do here, here is what we need to do there,’ because we have shown in this series when we do move the basketball we become tougher to defend. But when we start standing around and pounding the ball and start settling for 3-point shots, we become easy to defend.”
L.D. knows it, the players know it, you know it, I know it . . . hell, anyone who pays attention to the Hawks knows it. And now the national talkers know it, too, since they are watching the Hawks.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat