This is what it’s like to coach the Hawks sometimes. . .
L.D. looks at his computer screen, where Smoove’s shooting percentages by distance are displayed. He holds up a shooting chart of Josh’s misses and makes.
These are the tools L.D. uses to try to convince Josh to stop taking Js.
“I’ve had talks with him: ‘You can’t take those shots. You are not making them,’” he said. “When I talk to my players and I am making a point, I back it up with numbers and facts and video.”
It’s not just Josh.
Following Game 3, the theory among Atlanta’s bigs was that their help against D-Rose’s penetration contributed to Chicago’s 18 offensive rebounds. So L.D. showed his players video cut-ups of each of those rebounds and put them into categories.
“Whether it’s Rose involved, or whether a poor block out or bad rotation, or whether they just man-for-man went after that ball more than we did,” he said.
Drew said “not blocking out” won in a landslide.
“At the end of the game, we look at the stat sheet and say, ‘Eighteen offensive rebounds, we have got to do something differently if our coverages are putting us at a disadvantage.’” Drew said. “That was not the case. This is just about man-on-man. It’s my will against his will.”
And so it goes down the list, L.D. showing the Hawks how they can be better and the players seeming to get the message only sometimes.
“You hope as a coach [you have] a team that knows their strengths and knows their limitations,” Drew said. “A player that knows strengths tries to put himself in a position where he can be successful nine times out of 10. A player who has limitations, he is going to try to stay away from it as much as he can because he knows that is going to hurt himself and hurt the team. Here we are in playoff basketball; it is no time to experiment with your limitations now.”
The Hawks shared the ball in Game 1, their best offensive game of the series. But by Game 3 it was lots of dribbling by J.J., no ball movement, no player movement, poor shot selection.
“That’s the story of the whole year,” L.D. said. “We play together and play out of double teams one game, then we come back and try to beat the double teams ourselves the next game. That’s just inconsistency. We watch film and we show where we do move the ball out of a double team. And then we have games where we try to beat the double teams ourselves. We show that day, after day, after day, after day. It’s got to click in and they’ve got to see when we move the ball, it works. And when we move the ball, we become more effective. And when we move the ball, it puts the defense in a bind.”
I told L.D. his players sometimes seem more focused on the result than the process. In other words, if they share the ball and the shots go in then they have no problem keeping it up. If they share the ball and they don’t make shots–even if they creates some good ones–then it doesn’t take long before they abandon that approach and start going one-on-one.
“It’s not going to work all the time,” Drew said. “In sharing the basketball, success should not be predicated on our makes. It should be predicated on are we getting good shots or the shot that we want or if it’s a high percentage shots. As long as we get good looks, and it’s the right person shooting it, that’s successful offense.”
What about Al?
Al’s offensive struggles have caused great anxiety among my blog people. Some of you have implored me to “find out what’s going on with Al,” as if you don’t believe what you see so there must be some hidden reason to explain his ineffectiveness.
Seriously, though, I understand the angst. You may not like it when J.J. dribbles out possessions or Josh jacks up momentum-sapping Js but at least those are expected developments. But if the most reliable scorer on the team for most of the season can’t get it done, then all hope is lost.
In the comments yesterday I said that my view was a) the pick-and-pop hasn’t been there for Al b) he’s been stymied by Chicago’s physical D, led by Noah, when he tries to go inside and c) he’s been taking too long to make decisions with the ball (it got him, too).
Today L.D. gave his view on Al’s issues:
“I don’t think it’s as much they have taken [the jump shot] away as he is rushing his shot when he gets it. Down in the low post he has got to be more of a workhorse. They are matching Noah on him and Noah is a good defender and I think that is bothering him a little bit. They are playing him more physical where he is not getting to his spots. Even Gibson is matched up against him and we are not gaining an advantage. He has got to be more of a workhorse down low, he has got to look for his shot. He’s had some good looks, particularly the last game, last game he was really just rushing his shot. There were a couple he took it looked like they didn’t have a chance. He has got to be more in-tune, more in-focus, and work into getting into his shooting spot and shooting form faster. They are a good defensive team and they get to people quicker.”
Al said after Game 3 that the Bulls have taken away the pick-and-pops and he’d like to get more post-ups. So today I asked him if he still thinks that’s the answer.
“At this point I am really going to focus more on my defense and rebounding,” he said. “If I get the post-ups that’s great but I think I have to keep impacting the team on the defense end and rebounding in order to make a difference.”
Al has had some success by quickly driving the ball when Noah runs hard at him to deny the pick-and-pop. Al said that’s one option to counter it.
“I just have to make adjustments as a player,” he said. “Whether it is giving an extra pass to my teammates or rolling instead of popping—just something different.”
‘Trust each other’
L.D. also had more to say about what Joe needs to do to get on track:
“First of all, you have got to really study film. Look and see what they are trying to take away from you. Look and see from a team defensive standpoint what they are trying to do to you. Obviously with him on the side they are crowding him and bringing an extra guy over–what we saw against Orlando, basically. They are playing him a little bit more aggressive on the ball, but as far as bringing another guy over it’s the same thing [the Magic] did with Dwight and we combated that by not just pounding the ball but swinging it quick and getting it to the other side and attack it. A lot of his attacks have to be from the middle of the floor, we will put more focus on that moving forward. But the one thing you can’t do is pound, and pound, and pound the ball and try to shoot it over double teams because you are playing into their hands. We have got to have the same trust in this series as we had in the Orlando series. We played out of double teams, we got the ball moved, we went into the second phase of our offense. We’ve got to trust in one another. We have definitely got to get the ball moved. Especially in this series because Chicago, on paper, is a better defensive team. Against a team that loads up on the first side, they are rangy, athletic, strong, you can’t hold the ball on one side and try to pound it.”
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat