Thursday, February 11, 2010

MIA-ATL Game Review: Stumblin' In

One of the nice things about the laid back atmosphere at the Official Headquarters of THHB is that, when faced with a game that so throughoughly grosses the game review team out, such as the Wednesday night home tilt versus Miami, we don't have to get into the nuances of such an epic fourth quarter fail.

No, Hawks Nation should be thrilled to have ESPN's Hoopinion, Yahoo/SBNation's Peachtree HoopsFansided's Soaring Down South, and fellow indie bloggers Hawk str8talk and CoCo's: The Vent around to bring the noise on those nights when THHB get grumpy and doesn't want to bring themselves to work after such a game--preferring to ignore the stink and watch "Caddyshack" for the 101st time together.

That way we don't have to recap such things as an (84) possession slush fest that looked as if the Hawks were trying to shoot out of the (50) inch snowdrifts they avoided in the nation's capital over the weekend. If we did break it down, we would find that---


---are the reasons why the Hawks never could get momentum, dog paddled for three quarters, and then gave way in the fourth. Hope it was enlightning.

Location, Location, Location

Since we don't have to deal with the cold weather or the powder (no, not the Chris Washburn kind), we can freely give our other thoughts about the individuals associated with Wednesday's game---all without a jacket.

Joe Johnson may have collapsed (without the partnership of Jamal Crawford, out with a shoulder injury) under the previously common, but recently unique offensive focus the Hawks left him with, but THHB is not going to pin it on the (trumpets) FOUR TIME ALL STAR. No, we don't blame Iso-Joe, Joe-on-Five, or any of the other (fair) nicknames for the previously default Hawks offense. No, in this game it was his teammates inability to make, get, or take good shots that left the ball back in Joe's hands to try and save the day.

Al Horford, for what looked to be the third game in a row, was doing a dang-good Boris Diaw impersonation, at times not even looking to attack the hoop though he has had great success dealing with the Heat frontcourt in the past. And some times that he did, he looked like his first option was to pass, not shoot, much like the former Hawk first rounder now located in CLT. This is not the behavior that the team needs, especially on a night like Wednesday when the outside shots were not there. In a typical bad-game moment for the team, though, when Horford did finally shake the Diaw-blues and make a couple of strong buckets in the fourth, the team went away from getting him the ball. Alas.

The entire team struggled to get baskets at the rim, shooting a (45) percent clip, the team shooting (38) percent overall. Marvin Williams was 1-4 at the rim while attempting to recreate the 6-6 bonanza from the night before and help the effort, but finished 3-11. Not helping were the (10) turnovers shared between Joe Johnson and Al Horford (14 for the entire team). On a night when possessions were few, and the shots aren't falling, tossing (12) percent of them away between these two guys made it a difficult task to win. Between that and the shooting, it was just a bad night.

The Hawks were still treading water, hoping to get by on a C+ night, when Daequan Cook played the role of Jamal Crawford in a Heat uni and shot the Hawks down in the fourth quarter. Cook for the night went 7-12 with every shot happening from the outside. Maurice Evans let his guard down for a tick in the final quarter, and when Cook was done making Evans and the Hawks pay, the game was figuratively over.

If the Hawks are wondering how they can more consistently conquer their division mates (they are now 4-6 in the Southeast) they can look to the wisdom of ESPN's Hoopinion, who wrote this excellent passage (which of course needed to be explained to the brainiacs here at THHB).

---but it's clear that an average rebounding team (which is what the Hawks are overall) can maintain a healthy +5 or +6 point per 100 possessions differential. They certainly can as long as they turn the ball over less often than the other 29 teams, and, should they start turning the ball over more often, they could maintain said healthy differential by improving their rebounding, or shooting a higher percentage from the floor, or getting to the free throw line more often.

They turned it over more than the Heat, shot worse than the Heat, and rebounded worse than the Heat. So, using this formula (which ironically is exactly what Bret said there wasn't---ha!), the Hawks needed another (57) or so free throws to overcome the nastiness.

Another Amazing Gesture by a First Class Franchise

The aforementioned members of the Hawks Blogging Nation were invited to ask questions to Hawks GM Rick Sund before the AS break/Trade Deadline at some point before/during the game between the Heat and Hawks. We look forward to seeing what questions they asked as THHB had to decline due to our tax-friendly location for our HQ here in Florida.

The event is another example of how the Hawks have long been ahead of the curve when it has come to the internet generation of sports coverage, as long as you are there to do your work with a level of respect, courtesy, and some professionalism--well, that doesn't really explain our inclusion, does it?


Here are the highlights:


CoCo said...

I love that we all have a different perspective for why we lost. Of course there are some things that we can all agree on, but I disagree with you vehemently where Joe is concerned. I put most of the blame on him for no other reason than he's supposed to be the franchise player. He makes the most money which implies he's the best player. Come save the day when a key role player is out. He's fine being viewed as the main reason for the Hawks success, then he needs to be appropriately criticized when they fail. He missed twice as many shots as he made and played no defense. Unacceptable. You want to be paid like the LeBron's and Kobe's of the world, then put your team on your back and don't lose to the sorry ass Miami Heat right before you go on break only to head out west for your annual circus road trip.

Jason Walker said...

Excellent points, passionately delivered, as always---well done.

I felt like MIA was not going to let Joe beat them and the rest of the team didn't deliver when the ball rested in their hands.

Al compounded the issue by being Boris inside and immediately looking to kick the ball around the horn when he could have taken it to the hoop or forced a double team as a result.

Mike didn't help by bricking his open looks, and Josh decided it was his night for perimeter patrol offensively, which also allowed MIA to sag around Joe when he took it in.

The whole scenario is a recipe for losing and I do hope that this effort, along with the one in MIA, the ORL games, and the NYK fiascos end up on the outlier side of the bell curve when the season is complete.

CoCo said...

This type of effort is the reason the Hawks will be the fourth seed and be playing Cleveland instead of Boston in the second round. You just can't lose games like this. I agree Al has got to be more aggressive and demand the ball like an All Star, then do All Star types of things with it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link THHB, I commented last night that Joe went a long stretch without scoring and I didn't even remember him taking a shot. To me, he really didn't try to assert himself until we were down 7. Overall though we didn't look like we had the energy last night for whatever reason. Seemed like it peaked at the end of the first quarter. Had a great time last night, with THHB could have been there.

Jason Walker said...


Glad you were there and had a good time.

Joe was taken out of the mix by Miami by design, especially after he got off for (10) first quarter points--that's likely why he didn't seem as present later in the game.

Al needs to help in the post to loosen things up outside---and we need to knock down shots when teams sag inside to defend the paint. Last night they made 'em and we most certainly didn't.

Jason Walker said...


And thanks for the wishes that I were there! Would have been a lot of fun--I will definitely be up there in a couple of weeks to get to a game.

Anonymous said...

Miami did shoot the ball really well last night. Granted our D could have had something to do with that but still it was a good performance on their part. I thought the zone really hurt the Hawks last night. Without Jamal it really exploited us.