ATLANTA - APRIL 17: Head coach Scott Skiles confers with Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the team's 102-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 17, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Brandon Jennings is talented, and the Hawks only have one guy who can even pretend to stay with him and that is a rookie who rarely plays. If Jennings plays smart, he is going to score a lot of points. Well, if he shoots the ball 25 times, he is not even going to have to be smart about it.
Oddly, the lack of resistance might be the Hawks' saving grace. Jennings is going to have that open jump shot most games. For every 4-6 from behind the arc, there are going to be 2-12 nights (like the last time the Hawks met the Bucks), and for every fantastic floater and high glass layup, Al Horford and Josh Smith are going to send another one of them into the seats.
Because you see, Jennings is not just talented. He is also fearless. And while last night proves he is obviously awesome, the guy is going to shoot no matter how he is playing because the shots are there. And Jennings is neither a good enough jump shooter or finisher to beat the Hawks. 34 points on 25 shots is something Atlanta can live with. Going along with only three assists, Jennings performance was not a great offensive performance. It was the offense.
There are three things a superstar needs killer instinct, talent, and experience. Without the third piece, Jennings is going to be a bucket getter but not a game changer. It is not really Jennings fault. Due to injuries, the Bucks do not have very many offensive options, so it is not like Jennings is failing to create for people. He just can't. The Bucks second best option, John Salmons, likes to create for himself. Right now, Jennings has one option, to score. So if the shots appear open, he is going to take them. Last night, Jennings hit them, and the team lost by ten.
Does this make sense? Not really. Especially since I am not trying to cut down Brandon Jennings' performance. It is hard to describe a great player who is just not great enough yet. The talent and the fearlessness will put up some great stat lines, but it won't win games. Not yet anyway. The Hawks obviously don't want great stat lines. They will do things to fix those stat lines, but against Atlanta, Jennings is going to have a hard time being anything more than a wow factor.
- The opening eleven and half minutes highlighted by Al Horford in the high post throwing it down to Josh Smith who swung it Joe Johnson who made the extra pass for a Marvin jumper and culminating with Josh Smith's behind the back bounce pass to Jamal Crawford was championship basketball. Period.
- Did anyone else see Kurt Thomas stare down anyone who look in his direction? He killed two people with his eyes.
Marvin Williams is a better defender than Mario West. Marvin Williams is a better offensive player than Mario West. Marvin plays under 30 minutes a game. Why can't Marvin be our defensive stopper?
- If Mike Woodson rocks the tan suit, you know it is important game.
- Do the Hawks know you can throw bounce passes into the post? This lobs that get poked away are painful. I feel like they are playing a carnival game.
- Lets not go to a four guard lineup again. Cool? Cool.
- Al Horford is not Joe Johnson. He can score, he can make the offense better, but stop posting him up against Kurt Thomas with no second option. It is like throwing alley oops to Mike Bibby. Wait, what's that? Oh we do that too.
- Mike Bibby rarely guards a scoring point guard so he starts with a size mismatch. Switching can sometimes make sense for him, but Jeff Teague defends the point guard and has none of (however ineffective) tricks to play any kind of post defense. It seems switching with Teague takes him out of his most effective position. I do not really care if he goes under the screen every time. If the three choices are Jennings shooting jumpers, Jeff Teague guarding the drive, and Al Horford guarding Jennings. I will take option two.
- The crowd was large (but probably not sold out) and loud but they went the way of the Hawks and lost some energy after a first half of awesomeness. Still, a decent showing considering I was nervous about the draw of the Bucks.
- John Salmons will play better, but like I said, if he does, I think it is just less shots for Jennings not because of him.
- I love when Joe Johnson rebounds the ball.
- I am glad we did not need Josh Smith in the fourth quarter to win, but it sometimes it is ok to be excessive.
- Game one is the most important non elimination game in a series, and the Hawks rarely let this game become in doubt. Lots to improve, but they could not get more than one win. This is best case scenario. I will take best case scenario.