So after watching the disgusting Game 2 loss to the Celtics, I decided to do some digging around...
Regular Season (2007-2008 to this season)
Playoffs (2007-2008 to Game 1 of this season)
I can't tell you if the differences in numbers are "statistically significant," but the most disconcerting part is that ALL OF THE CATEGORIES MENTIONED ARE LOWER IN THE PLAYOFFS. Joe Johnson scores less, shoots at a lower percentage, dishes out assists less and is LESS EFFICIENT.
Reason(s)? Should we care?
Some critics say that JJ is not a prime time player. One could also make the argument that defenses load up on JJ in the playoffs. Honestly, I'm not so much concerned with the reason as much as I am with Larry Drew's strategy/response.
I think everyone would agree that when the Hawks are running plays, moving the ball around, and playing team basketball the team has a better chance of scoring than the playoff version of ISO-Joe. However, come the fourth quarter of the playoffs, the team has a tendency to return to this suboptimal strategy.
Mike Woodson did this and it looks like Larry Drew is following suit. I am of the opinion that coaches get so conservative late in the game that they follow the unwritten rule of "giving the ball to your best player." JJ is not Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant. At the same time, it is unreasonable to expect an NBA player, especially one with a $120M contract, has the humility to decline an opportunity to be "the man" despite a bad outcome.
LARRY DREW PLEASE MAKE THE HAWKS RUN ACTUAL PLAYS IN THE FOURTH QUARTER.
This can be done from the bench or by calling timeout in the front court.
p.s. When the Celtics have their starters in, please play our starters too. There is no rule that starters can't play from 3:00 left in the 3rd Quarter to 10:00 left in the 4th Quarter. Apparently Doc Rivers knows this and you don't. If rest is your reasoning, need I remind you that this is the playoffs.