I talked Hawks with CineSport’s Tara Petrolino after Atlanta’s 109-87 victory over the Raptors.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat
After looking at the numbers back on March 13, I concluded that the best outcome for the Hawks would be to draw Orlando in the first round and avoid Miami in the second. I updated the numbers for the Hawks today to reflect their rematches vs. Chicago and Philadelphia. I also added New York and Boston to the chart since it’s still conceivable the Hawks could face either of those foes in the first round.
Of the teams leading the Hawks in the East standings, the Magic still appear to be the best matchup, followed closely by Indiana. Every other matchup with the top 5 looks to be problematic.
The Sixers, currently seventh in the East but just a game behind Boston in their division, remain a terrible matchup for the Hawks. The Hawks have struggled to defend the Sixers even though they’ve managed to engage them in the low-possession games they prefer. Scoring against Philly hasn’t been easy for the Hawks, either, but at least they finally showed they could do it Saturday.
If the Hawks want to finally make it to the Eastern Conference finals, the current playoffs bracket may not be the one they want. Playing Orlando in the first round looks like it could be a favorable matchup but drawing Miami in the second round is not.
That seems obvious on its face–no team wants to see Miami that early–but a look at how the top six teams have fared in games against each other shows that the Hawks have been much better against the Bulls. It also suggests that the Hawks would be better off staying at No. 6 if it means facing Orlando rather than moving up to No. 5 if the result is a first-round series against the Sixers. Of course the dilemma there is, right now, they need the five seed to avoid Miami in the second round, so the best outcome probably would be for Miami to overtake Chicago for the top spot.
Interestingly, the Magic have given the Heat the most trouble because they’ve scored much more efficiently against them than the rest of the top teams in the
Three weeks ago I suggested the most realistic way for the Hawks to improve their offense is to shoot more 3s. Blog person Najeh responded in the comments:
“Threes are fine as long as they are a result of good ball movement and taken in rhythm. The problem with relying on them, just like the problem with relying on long 2 point jumpers, is that if you miss, you’re less likely to get the rebound than if you are taking attempts at the rim.”
That last part sounded right, and I went looking for the data to answer the question, but I couldn’t find any at the time. Now there are some relevant numbers compliments of a research paper submitted last weekend at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
University of Southern California researchers Rajiv Maheswaran, Yu-Han Chang, Aaron Henehan and Samantha Danesis co-authored “Deconstructing the Rebound with Optical Tracking Data.” They used data from STATS’ SportsVu Optical Tracking system, which uses cameras in arenas to track the
I’ve noticed that when Jeff Teague drives to the basket, opposing bigs sometimes focus more on blocking out their man than aggressively helping to challenge Teague. I think some numbers explain why that might be.
Teague is tied for eighth among starting point guards in shot attempts per game at the rim (4.4) and is 14th in shooting percentage at the rim: 58.5, compared to an average of 60.5 for starting point guards. Teague ranks tied for 11th in the amount of shots he attempts per game from 3 to 9 feet (1.7) and is 12th in shooting percentage from that floater range: 35.4 percent, slightly above the league average of 35.1 for starting point guards. Teague’s free-throw rate of .25 is second-worst among his peers in the top 10 of shot attempts per game at the rim.
Here’s a comparison of the 20 point guards who attempt the most shots per game at the rim (stats don’t include Thursday’s games):