ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 16: Head coach Larry Drew of the Atlanta Hawks looks on against the Orlando Magic during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Michael Cunningham in a Sunday blog post outlines what I consider to be a key sequence in the Hawks winning game one in Orlando Saturday night. When discussing the decision to single cover Dwight Howard, Larry Drew said there was a point in the game where players were lobbying him to change the game plan and at one point even did so without the coach's approval.
L.D. said players lobbied him to abandon the Dwight Defense as he kept thrashing all of Atlanta’s big men. A key moment came when Arenas made a corner 3 on a broken defensive assignment in the second quarter.
I can certainly understand the lobbying, after all Howard looked like he was going to score 60 or 70 points all by himself. Now L.D. talks about the turning point, in my opinion, to this game and perhaps this Hawks team going forward.
"We defended it how we did last year," L.D. said. "I saw a little bit of–I won’t say panic—but our guys thought it was time to make an adjustment, which I clearly did not think it was time because it was a one- or two-point ball game at the time. I’ve got my main three big guys on the bench with two fouls. As long as we kept it close I was going to continue to just play him head’s up as much as we could. I called timeout to reiterate, ‘That is not the game plan, we not not going to start opening up that game plan.’ I saw a little temptation might have been there but I was not going to do it at that time."
I remember the sequence where Arenas made the corner three but I don't remember what players were involved nor have I looked at the video. That isn't the point. The point is that this could have been the first time we have seen this group look adversity in the face under Larry Drew and stick to the game plan. They pushed through it where so many times this season under Drew or last season under Mike Woodson, we saw the team appear to deviate. This time Drew demanded that they stick to the game plan and they did while winning in the process. Could this be a one game aberration? Sure it could, or it could be a team finally fully buying in to its coach.
Of course I will defer to another Michael Cunningham quote as with this team rather than making assumptions, you are better off just to just wait and see what happens.
And, yes, that is one of those statements I may later regret because is there another team that can make you look stupid faster whenever you praise or criticism them?
So true Mike, so true.