Cleveland Cavaliers 99, Atlanta Hawks 72 or butt whoopings

Box Score

Recap

The Hawks and Cavs have very similar offenses. Except one has a little more ball movement, a 7'3'' center, and the best player on the planet.

With a healthy Hawks team (which of course they are not), Atlanta should be able to score on Cleveland. They have match ups to take advantage, and with the Cavs taking away one with an almost constant double team on Joe Johnson, others should open up. The problem is the Cavs are way too good at team defense to just think you can just run your set and succeed off an initial command position.

The Cavs play a lot of one on one basketball, but they do so off the extra pass. They never lock into taking the shot. The mindset keeps players cutting to the basket. It is not all back door cuts. Cleveland dribbles all over the place. They play one one as much as the Hawks, they just never forget four other guys are on their team.

Take a double team. Joe passes out of it and the Hawks recipient sees the advantage, and will thus, one way or another take the shot. Rarely do we see multiple passes or looks down low. The Cavs, on the other hand, turn double teams into half court fast break opportunities.

The whole one on one mindset is fine. I understand that is how a lot of NBA basketball is played. Mike Woodson is not a bad coach because Joe Johnson goes one on one. What is bad in the disorganization and lack of execution as to who gets the ball and where within these offensive sets. Josh Smith and Mike Bibby took a total of 6 shots in the second half. Flip Murray took seven. The Cavs on the other hand, knew where and how to destroy Mike Bibby's defensive shortcomings pretty much the whole game. They did not play one on one. They played advantageous one on one.

I am not expecting a Princeton style offense or constant inside outside game, but if you cannot get your most effective players the ball then I have a problem.

The mindset of the Hawks is "i am moderately open it must be my turn." Well, when everyone is hitting shots, bottom smacks for everyone. When they are not, the Cavs can just make sure Flip Murray is moderately open.

Joe Johnson

The Cavs must have watched the game 7 tape. Man is getting double teamed 30 feet from the basket. It makes it tough to score. But I am actually ok with a 5 for 10 night with six assists. The killer is five turnovers.

Cleveland is not going to let Joe iso Delonte West to death. And yes that takes out about 82% of the Hawks offense, but I have always wondered why Joe does not come off screens shooting. Joe is darn good shooter. The post up and methodical drive just might not happen this series. I know Mike Woodson does not like deviating from plan A, but it might be time to go to plan C.

'I'm tired,' Joe Johnson said afterward, 'but I'd never use that as an excuse. You play the whole season to get to the playoffs, and now that we're in the second round, we need to act like we want to be here."

Well, hey, at least he is a three time all-star now. Fresh legs be damned.

Defense

The Hawks do not have much of an answer on defense if Cleveland guards play the way they did last night. Against any team, Atlanta likes to dare shooters to shoot. They switch on screens and let Josh Smith play three feet off Delonte West. Now with LeBron requiring the attention of roughly four Hawks and the constant need to help Mike Bibby on defense,  jumpers are all the more open. The Cavs hit those shots, they win by 20 all four games. That is sad and that is true. But if they miss those shots, the Hawks have to limit them to one shot. Last night they hit shots and gave them second chances. But that is cool sometimes a shot to the gut is the only thing that makes a punch to the head feel better.

Final Thoughts

I assume/hope Al Horford played limited minutes due to his ankle, and without a healthy Marvin and Al, the hope for even a competitive series seems to be slipping away.

But this was just one game. I do not want to go all Mike Woodson on you, but it did not look good against Boston after two games last year. A seven game series is a marathon. And maybe it is just because I watched seven straight blowouts, the margin of victory for the Cavs does not really get my emotions swinging one way or another. In the end, to bring home a few victories, the Hawks have to execute. They have to play well. They have to believe they can win. All three are perfectly obtainable goals. They are just ambitious ones.

Game thread comment of the game from bystander with "I haven’t followed your team for a long time, but I think you guys need a new coach…so much talent on the roster…."

Go Hawks!

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