Quick Thought: Say, can somebody unschedule all remaining nationally televised games? Signed, Hawks' Intensity.
There were about 4 1/2 minutes of the first three quarters that the Atlanta Hawks made any kind of mini-run. For the other 31 1/2 minutes, everyone was treated to a classic "we're intimidated" Hawks game, the kind where we see the Hawks treat the lane like it's a pool of acid and missed jumpshots like spurious poll results.
You would have thought Alonzo Mourning was still in his prime the way the Hawks meekly poked their toes in the lane before throwing it back out for a jump shot. The Hawks were 11-27 and had almost four times as many three attempts than free throw attempts, with a paltry seven for the game.
It was only the fourth time a Hawks team had shot seven or fewer free throws in a game since 1986, but the second time this season, the first being the win at home over Chicago, per Basketball-Reference.
It only underscored the timid approach the team took to their offense and when the missed shots found their way into Miami's hands, it led to the Heat' either scoring in transition or getting to the line, which they did for a 26-31 night for free throws.
Jeff Teague showed he has a ways to go to be the confident, aggressive trigger man to the offense night after night and this game showed the difference between the offensive efforts with which Teague shows up. Joel Anthony can block shots, but there was no way the Hawks would feel as though there was no hope getting inside. The Hawks out-assisted the Heat 26-18, but the lack of attack hurt the Hawks in the free throw disparity.
The Miami Heat, per MySynergySports.com, are the #8 defense in the league by points per possession. Their weakest spot is in closing out on spot up shooters, where they give up nearly a point per possession. Naturally, team's try to exploit that regularly, as that play appears in 25 percent of the Heat's defensive plays.
The Hawks used 28 of their 105 possessions on spot up shots, and were very successful there, scoring 36 of their 87 points on those plays. The 1.29 points per possession represents 51% more success on those plays than on the other 77 possessions, where the Hawks could muster only .66 points per possession.
So the Hawks actually exploited the Heat weakness more than the average team, but everywhere else --- the Heat had the Hawks' number.
Here's the silver lining to another national embarrassment "effort": This team has never been about defining wins or losses -- there's only the next game, which comes Tuesday night against the Lakers, the first game of a five game roadie that include Phoenix, Portland, Chicago (on ESPN again) and wrapping it up against the Jeremy Lin resurgent Knicks. Wait, did I say silver lining?