Chicago–If you are skeptical about how much those favored NBA cliches of “energy and effort” factor into winning then perhaps this series has changed your mind a bit. There have been scrums and scraps around the basket on what seems like every loose ball in this series, and I think there’s something to be said for energy and effort in these circumstances.
Defense and rebounding are undervalued as talents, and certainly it’s true that some players can try hard but just don’t have what it takes to be good in those areas. But maybe physically gifted guys can be better at defending and rebounding if they have the zest for it, especially within the team concept.
The Bulls are a good defensive team because they have good defensive players and a sound scheme but what good would any of that be without their single-minded devotion to getting stops and then securing the ball at all costs? Isn’t that energy?
Or is it like Doc Rivers likes to say, that energy is a talent, and so it’s really not helpful to think of it as something separate from “tangible” talent?
It’s pretty obvious the Hawks’ energy level has increased during the playoffs. That has correlated with the Hawks allowing just 101.9 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, 2.7 points better than during the season, and that’s including the outliers of Game 5 vs. Orlando and Game 3 vs. Chicago.
“I’ve been pleased because I feel like the guys have really bought in to what we are trying to do,” Al said. “It’s never going to be perfect but you can make up for certain mistakes and certain things [with energy] and I feel like we’ve been doing that.”
Certainly sound game plans against Dwight and D-Rose have been major factors in Atlanta’s success. Some favorable matchups have helped, too.
But I’m thinking Atlanta’s energy also has been important–and that’s coming from someone who rolls his eyes when players and coaches (and media types) use that word to explain unexpected performances when there are more obvious reasons.
“We are an energy team,” L.D. said today. “There are times we just come out and we just don’t play that way for some reason. We have the athletes. It’s just a matter of coming out with energy, and I am totally expecting that tonight.”
That’s always the question with the Hawks. Can you expect that tonight? Any night? Jamal summed it up yesterday:
“We’ve shown we can play with anybody, and some nights we can play with nobody. That’s the most frustrating part for us.”
Which version of the Hawks shows up depends on more than just how hard they play. But in the end, when the Hawks and Bulls are fighting for every possession to gain control of this grinding series, maybe that’s will matter the most.
“I expect us to come out and the effort will be there,” Al said. “I feel like we have been played well in this building two games. One night we had a great shooting night; the other night we struggled. But I think our effort was good. That’s my biggest thing. We need to come out and just play hard.”
Notes, quotes and links
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat