The anatomy of hope in 20 missed shots

I remember watching the Hawks/Orlando game and in between the third and fourth quarter, Mike Woodson saying something like, "We are fine. They just made some shots and we just missed some shots." When the reality was Orlando was playing progressively better team basketball and the Hawks were playing progressively worse (regressively worse?). If everything was fine, the Hawks were going to lose, and they did. By a lot.

So I began to wonder where the worry and dread was as the Hawks missed 20 shots against Dallas the other night. And yes, this might be a revisionist look at history since Atlanta won, but I went back and logged each offensive possessions to see how the Hawks were playing. Was I turning into MIke Woodson and saying "Hey, we are still close, and we are not even hitting shots! Surely that will change." Or were the Hawks playing good basketball and just going cold.

Here is the possession log with five man rotation changes noted. Underlined possession are ones I have deemed bad offensive trips down the floor.

Joe, Jamal, Zaza, Al, Mo

Joe double team, zaza long jumper.

Jamal good drive rejected.

Joe double team, wild shot by horford.

Joe, Jamal, Al, Josh, Marvin

Good ball movement. Joe Johnson three.

Fast break. Good break. Better block on Al Horford.

Open three for Marvin.

Good Fast break. Foul.

Bibby, Josh, Al, Joe, Marvin

Joe good drive, one on one, but blocked with last second help defense.

Horford drive and miss.

Josh Smith blocked layup.

Offensive rebound, Josh fouled.

Joe drive and kick to open Bibby for three.

Joe drive and kick back to Bibby. Bibby drive and pull up jumper.

Zaza, Horford, Joe, Marvin, Bibby.

Lots of passing, No movement. Joe contested jumper.

Bibby offensive rebound. Shoots open three.

Joe over dribbles and misses floater.

Joe, Bibby, Marvin, Josh, Al.

Joe curl, catch, and shoot open mid range.

Marvin jumper off screen.

Joe offensive rebound. Foul on Josh dunk attempt.

Marvin Williams drive and blocked. Slightly out of control.

Offensive rebound and Bibby desperation three with shot clock winding down.

Josh Smith jumper.

Josh Smith miss on drive.

Al Horford make on offensive rebound!

That is five bad shots out of twenty and the Hawks had five offensive rebounds during the stretch of misses. Joe Johnson only took five shots. They were playing team basketball. And I don't know if it was just this night or something more, but in a one game survey, playing good basketball can actually thwart a freak out. It only takes one guy pressing, thinking he needs to take over the game, for the team to realize they no longer need to play five man basketball because they can't do it with four guys. The Hawks missed shots, but for the majority of the time, they missed good shots. It goes a long way for psyche. Frustration was setting in, but a freak out was not. Defense was still played. Effort was still being given on the boards. And in the end, the Hawks were able to miss 20 straight shots and win on the road against one of the elite teams in the league.

The Hawks may not have the focus to play team basketball every night, but when they do, I am beginning to think they not only can beat anyone in the league, they actually will. 

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