Before we get to the good that happened in the second half, we have to look at the bad from the first. Not to dwell on the negative, but you really can't understand the good without the bad. Kind of like puberty.
Getting the ball in the post
The Hawks actually looked like they were ready to pound the ball inside early. The guards were looking for the post up. The front court even got a few opportunities, but the Hawks lacked any noticeable signs of breathing that they were not getting into their offensive sets until at best 14 seconds. Half the time Al or Josh did not assert themselves in the paint enough to offer a viable passing lane. And the other half the time, the Hawks were so lackadaisical doing anything that they had two seconds to pass inside before the guards just gave up and looked to create their own shot. And there were no pick and roles.
It was a team effort to screw over a perfectly good strategy. It led Michael Cunningham, the new beat writer, to tweet
"Woody getting frustrated with Hawks' lack of focus. Keeps needing to tell guys where to go, and they are slow getting there."
Coming out in that third quarter, the difference was palatable. They were sprinting down the court. It had nothing to do with the Kings. Atlanta was just playing like the point was to get into a play as fast as possible. And shockingly, that meant they actually ran a play, and less shockingly running a play you want that keys in on advantages works (but that might have actually had something to do with the Kings).
It fed into and off of the defensive end, and before you knew it, the team was in a cycle of awesome keyed on energy and believing in execution. I would say it was easy if the Hawks did it with any regularity.
The bench ended up playing well. At the end of the third quarter, they went on a great run after the Mario West anti run, but the Joe Johnson fire of anger on the walk off interview was as true as it was refreshing. If you didn't see the Joe interview, let me paraphrase.
"We just came out to relaxed, and it just puts our whole team in a tough position, and our bench has to play catch up and the starting five needs to pick our play up and I am about go eat Jason Collins hamburger to prove how serious we need to take this."
Ok, that last line was not there, but the leadership and run on sentences were.
I want Jeff Teague to play. I want the starters to get rest, but they make it very difficult on Woody when they come out flat and play catch up. The bench does not have the fire power or the leadership to just flip the offensive or defensive switch on depending on the mood of the game, and if the bench comes in down five, the leash has to be tighter on them. That is not a trust issue, that is a reality issue.
Compare it to the Hawks lead in the third and fourth where some bend is possible. The bench has shown an ability to bounce back, keep competing, and hustle their way at least to a stand still. It is fun to watch and necessary, but it begins with the starting lineup.
- You can try. You can scour past game tapes, but I struggle to think you can find a sequence that better sums up Zaza than the hustle steal, missed wide open layup, offensive rebound, made layup (on a goal tend).
- Jeff Teague looked like he had no confidence out there. So if getting thrown into the fire can hurt your confidence and not getting thrown in obviously does, lets play with fire.
- Note to Jamal Crawford. Make a video of you dribbling. I will buy it. You don't even have to be moving your legs.
- If you are only useful in energetically and passionately making up for one of the three mistakes you are already made, you may not be that useful, Mr. West.
- The Josh Smith block and finish at the other end is just electric. If I see it a million times, I will want to see it a million and one. Kind of like
- Tyreke Evans' 24 points took Kevin Martin's 23 points out back and beat the crap out of it.
- A contribution by Marvin Williams seems to make everything just easier. At least for me. As I sit on my couch. Doing nothing.
- I saw Jamal Crawford sky for two rebounds. True story.
- Josh Smith and Al Horford apparently have signed a pack where they are only going to block shots if they can do it like the other player is a 12 years old.
- Mo Evans might be the best worst dunker in the league.
- Zaza Pachulia really gets excited about Jamal's four point plays. So do I. Zaza and I have like a 1,000 things in common.
- Nice showcase of Randolph Morris. Soooo NBA teams.....any takers?