More Thoughts and Information from Game 5:
The Pick and Roll Problems
Talking to Kirk Hinrich, Al Horford, and Josh Smith after the game, they all concurred in one major way: They stunk defending the pick and roll.
As Bret correctly notes in his game recap, the Magic adjusted slightly, but effectively by moving their 1-5 PNR to the middle of the floor, and where Hinrich had been able to keep Nelson out of the lane, suddenly the steady ship that had been the Hawks team defense was leaking.
When the PNR defense broke down, as Josh noted, they had to leave their men to help, and those spot up shooters made the Hawks pay like they hadn't made them pay since last season.
Horford also noted that they used different ball-handlers coming off that play as well, and Smith shared that the defensive gameplan was not to use a hard show from the bigs, which certainly exasperated attempts by the guards to prevent initial penetration.
Horford thought they had the right approach early by going inside, but that the team rushed their shots. He blamed himself for a couple, Josh took the fall for failing to convert a number of attempts inside in the first quarter. The two of them started the game 2-9 and it was downhill from there.
The waiting is the hardest part
Asking Hinrich and Collins about leaving the game down one and returning 10 game minutes later into a blowout, neither pointed the finger at their teammates, nor did they claim frustration at watching as their defensive efforts were erased with rapid ease.
Still, Drew has to understand that, especially when Jamal isn't hitting, they are going to lose ground fast without his defensive players in the game. The Hawks had the right offensive approach early, they rushed and missed those early ops, but the team may also have rushed away from that strategy too soon and that, combined with the defensive struggles, caused an avalanche of ineffectiveness.
When asked about Game 6, all the guys said that the crowd and their own energy will be extremely important.
When I pressed for the most important on-court adjustment that needs to be made, most guys pointed to the defense, specifically defending the PNR.
They reverted back to the sagging, the step slow closeouts, and poor PNR defense, and it was the biggest difference between Game 5 and all the previous games. That and, of course, their jump shots not falling.