Archive for May, 2012

Atlanta Hawks: Reining in Rondo

BOSTONRajon Rondo had a triple-double in Game 3 but his 0.57 points per possession were worst on the team, according to Synergy Sports Technology. So Jeff Teague isn’t wrong when he says of Rondo: “He’s going to penetrate. He’s a good player. Some plays you have to live with. Just like guys on our team are going to make plays and they have to live with it. There’s a reason he’s one of the best point guards in the league.”

Here’s a closer look at Rondo’s plays in Game 3. Per my Synergy review, a chart of the 32 possessions Rondo used (FGA, FTA and turnovers, not including his two FTA when he was intentionally fouled in the final moments):

1st quarter

  • Rondo got to the basket when Kirk Hinrich helped on Paul Pierce, who was two steps ahead of Joe coming off a screen. But Rondo missed after Hinrich recovered and challenged his shot.
  • Rondo faked using a screen to his left, prompting Hinrich to step under it. Rondo stepped back to his right to shoot but missed as Hinrich managed …

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Atlanta Hawks: Video: Hobbled Hawks fall to Celtics in Game 3

I reviewed the Hawks’ 90-84 loss to the Celtics in Game 3 with Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Atlanta Hawks: Celtics 90, Hawks 84 (OT)

Boston–The Hawks, against all odds and in spite of Larry Drew’s weird substitution patterns, had a chance to beat the Celtics and regain control of this series. This was because they were intense on defense and the boards, got production from unlikely sources and Joe Johnson made big shots. It also helped that the Celtics sputtered on their possessions late in regulation.

  • The Hawks lost in overtime and one way to look at is they nearly won without their top three bigs. Heck, for at least one night you can’t even knock them for not having enough quality bigs (who does, really?) after Erick Dampier had his best game of the season.
  • “We feel like we have as good a chance to win this series as they do,” Joe Johnson said. “Unfortunately we have three key bigs that are not able to play. That is a minor setback. We still had a great chance to come out and win this game. We still had a chance in the fourth quarter.”
  • Another way to look at it, though, is that three games have come …

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Atlanta Hawks at Celtics Game 3: Game thread

BostonJosh Smith (knee) is out and Marvin Williams starts at power forward. Ray Allen (ankle) will play for the first time since April 10. Rajon Rondo is back from suspension.

  • Josh said he’s aiming to play in Game 4 Sunday: “I just have to rest and see how it feels. I want to get good enough to play but you never know. I don’t want to risk a domino effect and it being something more than what it is.”
  • Josh tested the knee at shootaround this morning: “It felt pretty good until I started doing a lot of exploding up the basket. That’s where the pain really starts to generate when I become explosive with it. But as far as running and cutting and everything else it feels OK.”
  • Yesterday Josh said he suffered the injury when Kevin Garnett banged into it while jostling for rebounding position. But he said the patellar tendonitis in his knee is a contributing factor. “I guess it caught up to me,” he said.
  • The Hawks are now down their top three bigs. “Certainly it’s an uphill …

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Atlanta Hawks: If not Josh Smith, then who?

Josh Smith says he’s a game-time decision tonight for Game 3. If Smith can’t go, which lineup should Larry Drew use in an attempt to somehow win without him?

My (meaningless vote) is for sending out Marvin Williams alongside Jeff Teague, Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson and Jason Collins. (Ivan Johnson has done all that can be expected in this series but the second unit needs his zip, toughness, post defense and rebounding.)

From a matchup perspective, I like this lineup because Marvin can defend Paul Pierce instead of Joe. This would theoretically allow Joe to play more overall minutes (more on that later) and have more energy left at the end because Brandon Bass is a much easier defensive assignment. Bass’ game generally is limited to making mid-range and long 2s . Joe would have to keep Bass off the boards but Bass is a fellow blah rebounder.

I also like Marvin with the starters because, according to basketballvalue.com, the only positive plus-minus lineups that have included …

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Atlanta Hawks: Notes and quotes

  • Josh Smith was walking without a noticeable limp today. He plans to test his sprained left knee at shootaround tomorrow morning in Boston. “I haven’t done anything as far as running on it,” he said. “I will have to see how it feels tomorrow. At shootaround I will probably try to go a little bit harder than I normally do and see how it feels.”
  • Told that Larry Drew said the decision on whether to play is up to him, Josh said: “Oh, they are going to put the pressure on me like that? [He was smiling]. It’s OK. If it feels good, I’m going to go. I’m not one to harness injuries. I have a high threshold for pain. If I feel like I can go a little bit I’m going to step out on floor.”
  • Asked if he feels a sense of urgency to play in Game 3 because the Hawks are already thin with big men, Josh said: “I don’t want to put that much pressure on me. I understand how important this series is but it’s more than one game. I don’t want to go out there too early and risk getting injured more …

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Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith doubtful for Game 3 with knee injury

A person with knowledge of the prognosis for Josh Smith said the Hawks forward is doubtful to play in Game 3 against the Celtics Friday after he suffered a left knee injury in Game 2 Tuesday.

The person said Smith has patellar tendonitis with inflammation in the injured area but an MRI revealed no structural damage. If Smith misses Game 3 he likely would return for Game 4 Sunday in Boston, according to the person.

The person did not want to be identified because the Hawks have not released details of Smith’s injury. The Hawks released a statement that said Smith is day-to-day with a “strained left tendon.”

Smith suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Atlanta’s 87-80 defeat to Boston. He appeared to pull up limping after a layup attempt and later aggravated it while jostling for rebounding position with Boston’s Kevin Garnett.

Smith played through nagging injuries during the regular season. Smith and Jeff Teague were the only starters to play in all 66 games.

“I know …

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Atlanta Hawks: Video: Celtics stifle Hawks in Game 2

I joined The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn to review Atlanta’s 87-80 defeat to Boston in Game 2 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoffs series.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

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Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Game 2: Celtics 87, Hawks 80

  • Larry Drew was asked if he had any regrets about not coming back with his starters earlier when the game got away from the Hawks in the fourth quarter. But his answer reveals he thought he was being scrutinized for bringing them back too soon.
  • “I would have done the exact same thing,” he said. “I thought it was important to hold onto momentum and not allow them to get it. I tried to rest my guys as long as I could to give them a blow but I didn’t want the game to get away from us from a momentum standpoint. So I made the decision to try to bring them back and try to regain momentum. I will stick with that decision.”
  • It turned out Josh Smith’s injury overshadowed Drew’s curious decision to not always have Joe Johnson and Josh on the floor with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Smith suffered what the team said is a sprained left knee, apparently when he landed after a missed layup attempt with 5:14 to play, and appeared to later aggravate it while trying to block out Garnett …

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Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Game 2: Game thread

  • The Hawks feared Zaza Pachulia could miss up to another two weeks but word is they were encouraged by a recent test of his injured left foot. Pachulia could return to play as soon as Game 5 of this series.
  • Ray Allen (ankle) is out for the Celtics and Doc Rivers didn’t sound very optimistic when asked if it was time to count out Allen for the series: “I don’t know. It’s frustrating, more for him than for us. We don’t know what to do. He looked great yesterday off the court running and shooting. Today he couldn’t walk. He couldn’t do his normal shooting before the game.”
  • Avery Bradley slides to point guard and Mickael Pietrus will start at shooting guard. Pietrus draws Kirk Hinrich. Rivers: “We don’t want Paul chasing around little guards. When we change lineups, [Peitrus] will slide over to guard Joe at times.”
  • Larry Drew: “We have played this team without Rondo before and they beat us. We have to play our ‘A’ game because our ‘B’ game is not going to get it done.”
  • Josh …

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