- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Who knew that the Orlando Magic would end up taking another day off? They certainly couldn’t have expected it to be this easy or their play to be this crisp once they blew off the cobwebs. But with their game in mothballs for seven days, the Magic showed none of the rust they expected, whipping the Atlanta Hawks 114-71 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the second round. [...] How bad was it? The Magic’s biggest lead was 46. They led by 41 points at the end of the third quarter — and the Hawks had scored just 44.”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Here’s all you need to know: When Dwight [Howard] went to the bench with his third foul late in the third quarter Tuesday night, he actually agreed with the ref’s call and happily took a seat on the bench for the rest of the game. Of course, the Magic led by 30 and Dwight had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks at the time. ”I played about the same amount of minutes as I played in the Charlotte series,” Dwight said with a smile splashed across his face. So much for the Magic being rusty after an eight-day layoff. They may have been playing the Atlanta Hawks, but they battered these guys like they were the Braves’ bullpen. The last time Atlanta got torched like this, Gen. William Tecumseh Van Gundy was making his famous March to the Sea.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic now have played five games in the 2010 NBAplayoffs, and the only thing that has stopped Jameer Nelson so far is some bad shrimp. The diminutive point guard continued his stellar postseason Tuesday night as the Magic humiliated the Atlanta Hawks 114-71 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Nelson swished 3-pointers. He finished off drives with acrobatic layups. He penetrated into the lane and dished off to Dwight Howard for easy baskets. In short, the guy Howard famously labeled a “crib midget” as a term of endearment played far bigger than his stocky frame. Nelson finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also recorded five assists.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Hawks started the game matching the Magic shot for shot. After the first quarter, Atlanta trailed by just two points. That evenness completely changed during the second quarter. The Magic bench players held the Hawks to a franchise playoff low of 10 points in the second quarter and Orlando had a 20-point lead at halftime. They held the Hawks to 11 points in the third quarter and Atlanta trailed by 41 after the third quarter. The Hawks shot 34.6 percent and were outscored by 22 points in the paint. Atlanta coach Mike Woodson didn’t have an answer for why things changed for his team.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando smothered the Hawks defensively, got an inspiring return to form from all-star center Dwight Howard and more solid play from point guard Jameer Nelson in a 114-71 demolition of Atlanta. A surging Magic team that led the NBA in point differential and blowout victories this season was remarkably up on the Hawks by 46 points at one moment of the fourth quarter. The 43-point victory was the second-largest in Magic history, trailing on the 47-point beatdown of the Boston Celtics in 1995. Nothing, not the seven days off or the supposed rust that was supposed to come with the extended break, was about to slow down the runaway Magic on this night. And this was the kind of lopsided blowout that had to resonate from throughout the NBA – from Cleveland to Boston and from Los Angeles to San Antonio.”
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “[...] if you’re the Magic, it’s hard to find a negative in this game. Really, the team executed about as well as it could have during the game’s competitive portions; garbage time turned a bit sloppy, with both Mo Evans and Mario West throwing down uncontested dunks, and Jeff Teague draining a three-pointer with about 15 feet between him and the nearest Magic defender. But the Magic, for the first 36 minutes or so of this game, ran their offense to perfection. Everything was inside-out, via a Howard post-up or a dribble-drive. After that, a shot went up or the ball went back out, then moved side-to-side until an open look presented itself. They executed Stan Van Gundy‘s gameplan to a T, which is why studio analyst Kenny Smith’s complaint that Howard had only 14 points at halftime confused me. Smith contended that Howard should have had 25.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “It’s no easy feat to trail a Round 2 playoff game by 41 points having played only 36 minutes, but the proud conquerors of Milwaukee managed it. They were down 85-44 after three quarters. And I say it again: This is why so few folks outside Atlanta, and many folks in Atlanta, don’t take seriously a team that won 53 games this season and has survived a Game 7 in each of the two springs. The Hawks tried really hard those first 14 minutes. Then the home team got going, and the visitors decided trying to play sound basketball really wasn’t worth the effort. So they ceased and desisted.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The Magic’s 43-point victory margin was their second largest in postseason franchise history. Their largest lead of the game was 46; their largest lead during the regular season was 38 in that Jan. 9 game vs. the Hawks. They’ve won their last four home games against the Hawks by an average margin of nearly 32 points. Not surprisingly, the Hawks talked afterward about how this is just one game in the series. Yes, they said they can regroup. Yes, they can come up with a plan to beat Orlando.”
- Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “Woodson was saving Horford to play against Marcin Gortat when Gortat replaced Howard on the court and Horford, presumably, couldn’t do that if he picked up a second foul. Somewhat predictably, Stan Van Gundy countered this strategic innovation by leaving his best player in the game against, first, Atlanta’s third-string center, then the backup center. Woodson eventually realized that Howard wasn’t headed to the bench anytime soon and put Horford back in with 8:55 left in the second quarter. That’s 9 minutes and 41 seconds of the first 15 minutes and 5 seconds of the game that Al Horford spent on the bench as his coach, in an effort to create a future mis-match that didn’t materialize until Orlando had a 16-point lead, gifted his opponent’s best player a mis-match in the present. It was surely the nadir of The Horford Treatment and, perhaps, a mis-calculation so severe as to kill off the misguided attempt at maintaining control for good.”
- David Whitley of NBA FanHouse: “After pouting, fouling and sitting his way through the first round of the playoffs, everybody was wondering what was wrong with Dwight Howard. Nothing the Atlanta Hawks and Nick Nolte can’t cure. The NBA’s self-proclaimed Superman is back. If only he could play the Hawks every game from here on out, the Magic would romp to the world championship. Based on Tuesday night’s 114-71 cataclysm, they might do it anyway. They are the stealth team nobody has noticed. Maybe Howard needs to wrap his elbow, wince a lot and start shooting free throws with his left hand.”
- Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “It’s why this best-of-seven, second-round matchup isn’t going to take very long. Atlanta’s Mike Bibby had buried his head under a towel, peeking out only once in awhile to view the wreckage. On the other side, Orlando’s Jameer Nelson was waving his towel wildly, up on his feet every few seconds. [...] Nelson had 19 points — hit 5 of 8 shots — and five rebounds in his 25 minutes, orchestrating the Magic offense to perfection. After missing the Magic’s playoff run to the Finals last season, he is hungrier now than he ever has been in his career.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk: “Game two is not going to be exactly like this. The Hawks cannot play this bad again. But in their regular season matchups less severe versions of this same scenario played out. The Magic have a starting five that can best the Hawks starting five, and the Magic bench blows Atlanta out of the water. The Magic have matchup advantages they can easily exploit, while Howard takes away the easy baskets the Hawks try to get off their mismatches. The Magic have made a statement. The Hawks were simply the vehicle. The Cavaliers were the intended recipients.”
- Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated: “Professional athletes have remarkably short memories when necessary, and after losing by 43 points, the Hawks need them. On the bright side, Orlando isn’t likely to play as picture-perfect a game, nor are the Hawks likely to slug through as badly. Still, there are matchup issues that can’t be overcome in the paint. And Joe Johnson already looks tired chasing multiple threats on the perimeter. That means a whole lot of Josh Smith and getting something out of Johnson’s backcourt mates, Bibby and Crawford. But let’s be honest — Orlando is built to win a title and is playing like it. The Magic may be technically the No. 2 seed, but in watching them easily handle the first five games of these playoffs, the Eastern title goes through Orlando.”
- Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “I’m not sure it’s scientifically possible for one time to sweep a series in one game, but I think this is the closest we’ll ever get. After a close first quarter (25-23), Orlando blew things open in the second (28-10) and third (32-11) to make this the Hawks’ worst playoff loss since the franchise moved to Atlanta. This was somehow even uglier than the score, and it’s difficult to imagine how the Hawks can come back from such a wretched performance.”
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “It was clear that if the Atlanta Hawks did not pick up their play from where it was during a seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks, they would be in trouble facing the Orlando Magic in an Eastern Conference Semifinal series. As it turned out, that was a massive understatement, at least in Game One. The Hawks were outscored by such a lopsided margin in the second and third quarters that it looks like a misprint–60 to 21. The final tally wasn’t much better as Atlanta lost by 43 points. The Hawks’ problems started in the middle, where Dwight Howard was liberated from his foul-trouble issues against Charlotte and crushed fellow All-Star Al Horford. Howard scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting and entirely shut down Horford at the other end of the floor. The Atlanta center missed six of his seven shot attempts and had just four points in 22 minutes.”
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images
To annihilate is to destroy completely.
In Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Orlando Magic showcased what ‘annihilate’ means as they were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 114-71. This was, quite simply, a savage beating. Two players for the Magic influenced the destruction — Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Finally waking up from his slumber in the postseason, Howard led the way for Orlando with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks. Nelson had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, wreaking havoc against Atlanta’s defense. Vince Carter chipped in with 20 points and six rebounds. There should be no surprise that the Magic were able to play well with extended time off, by the way. With the win, Orlando is 6-0 this year when playing on three days rest or more.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “True to their nature, Orlando Magic players looked relaxed as they left RDV Sportsplex following their shootaround Tuesday. If you didn’t know that their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Atlanta Hawks was starting tonight, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the players’ expressions. ’I’m happy and ready to go, and I’m looking forward to this series,’ Dwight Howard said a few minutes ago. ‘It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to having a great series. We’ve had six, seven days of great practices. So, I’m ready to go. The team’s ready.’ ”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel: “Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson stayed mum on his plans for Dwight Howard, claiming he still doesn’t know exactly how the Hawks will approach the Magic big man. Woodson cautioned against focusing too much on Howard. “It ain’t just about Howard,” he said. “It’s about Vince [Carter], [Jameer] Nelson, [Ryan] Anderson, I mean they got so many weapons. [Jason] Williams. [Rashard] Lewis. I mean, we just gotta key on anybody that plays. They’re so talented. Howard is kind of the head of the snake.” The Hawks are just two days removed from finishing a Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks and will face the Magic tonight. Over-focusing on Howard was a problem for the Charlotte Bobcats, but it wasn’t one they ever recovered from. Despite Howard playing fewer than 28 minutes per game, the Magic still swept Charlotte.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic com notes that the Orlando Magic are more than prepared to face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: “The Orlando Magic have gone over scenarios where point guard Jameer Nelson is covered by Joe Johnson and they have drilled on what to do when center Dwight Howard is double- and single-covered. They have talked about attacking Atlanta’s zone defense and how to defend the Hawks many isolation plays in halfcourt sets with Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith and Johnson. Yep, the second-seeded Magic have basically been over almost every scenario possible they could face in tonight’s Game 1 against the third seeded Hawks in the eight days since they last played. “We’ve had a long time to prepare for just about everything,” Magic superstar center Dwight Howard said with an exaggerated sigh.”
- The NBA All-Star Game returns to Orlando.
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie votes Dwight Howard second in his MVP ballot.
- Shaun Powell of Sekou Smith’s Hangtime Blog, however, doesn’t think Howard should be in the top three of MVP voting: “Let’s start with the obvious. Dwight Howard is the best center in the game, the best defensive player in the game and the top player on a team that might win an NBA championship this season. He is not, however, more deserving of the MVP award than LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant or even Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. They have very little if any flaws. Howard, however, has flaws. He’s a notoriously poor free throw shooter, below 60 percent. His offensive game is fairly limited because he lacks a polished, go-to move. And he often gets into silly foul trouble. Very good player? Yes, absolutely. Best at his position? Not even close, really. Top 3? Not so close.”
- One thing is for sure, Howard is ready to play some basketball.
- Nada Taha Moslehy of SLAM ONLINE previews the matchup between the Magic and the Hawks.
- Head coach Mike Woodson talks about Orlando and Atlanta.
- Britt Robson of Sports Illustrated: “Logic points to an Orlando rout. At point guard, Jameer Nelson is playing like vintage Mike Bibby, circa 2004 or so, while the Hawks are stuck with the slower, less consistent 2010 Bibby. Atlanta may have the Sixth Man Award winner in combo guard Jamal Crawford, but the Magic possess a much deeper and more versatile bench overall. The first few times you watch Orlando, you wonder why it chooses to live and die with so many three-pointers, taken regardless of the shot clock and how many teammates are beneath the hoop. But after a while, you see that it isn’t really that risky: The Magic finished second (behind the Suns) in effective field-goal percentage (which factors in the added value of three-pointers) because their seven most-frequent long-range shooters convert between 36.7 (Carter’s seventh-best accuracy) and 40.5 percent (by team leader J.J. Redick) of their threes. [Stan] Van Gundy will find the two or three who are hot that game, and if defenses flood the perimeter, Howard gets single coverage at the rim.”
- Mickael Pietrus is ready to go for Game 1.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post chimes in on the MVP voting process: “Overall, the internal politics of NBA balloting put the voters in rough spots, which is why I agree with SBNation’s Mike Prada when he calls for more national, independent voters and a transparent ballot. Howard Beck, whose employer, the New York Times, does not allow its writers to cast award ballots, also made the case for accountability and transparency here. Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer, a credentialed media member who’s covered the NBA for various internet publications over the last 10-plus years, only received awards votes this season. Why aren’t more people like him given votes? Wouldn’t taking some votes away from team employees make the results a bit more palatable? Kevin Pelton offers another suggestion: keeping the current electorate, but preventing its members from voting for players on the teams they represent.”
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider and Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie shed light on the next generation of point guards that are flooding the NBA with their talents. Jameer Nelson, the “graybeard” of the group, gets some pub.
- Jordan Schultz of NBA FanHouse ranks Howard in his own tier among all big men in the league: “A rare combination of size, power and agility, Howard has it all — on the defensive end. He’s led the league in rebounding the last three years, and he’s blocked the most shots the last two. His defensive ability shuts down the entire painted area. He’s won the last two Defensive Player of the Year awards and should stay in contention for the award his entire career. Howard’s challenge, though, is to become a consistent go-to scoring option. He has such quick feet that he can rely on his overwhelming explosion, but with his back to the basket, he’s still very much in the early stages of his growth. He needs to develop more finesse, because right now he’s all power, and when things aren’t going his way, he can literally be taken out of the game by foul trouble.”
- Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse sets the table for the series between the Magic and the Hawks.
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Via the Orlando Magic:
“The most magical week in sports is returning to Orlando for the second time, as the city has been selected to host NBA All-Star 2012, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced at a press conference today at the Amway Center. Orlando Magic President Bob Vander Weide, Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joined Stern at the announcement. Orlando also hosted the 1992 All-Star Game.
The 61st NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Amway Center, which will also host the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam and NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm. NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas, the hugely successful interactive basketball celebration, will be held at the Orange County Convention Center. [...]
NBA All-Star competitions will get underway on Friday, Feb. 24, as the league’s top rookies and second-year players square off in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. The following day’s festivities will feature NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, an all-inclusive skills showcase comprised of Haier Shooting Stars, a competition featuring NBA and WNBA players, and NBA legends; Taco Bell Skills Challenge, a contest of top guards working against the clock to complete a series of passes, free throws, layups and agility drills; the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, a long-standing staple of the evening; and the ever-entertaining Sprite Slam Dunk contest.”
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
Last night, LeBron James was presented with the MVP trophy by commissioner David Stern before the Cleveland Cavaliers faced off against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was a deserving moment for James, capping off a community celebration, of sorts, that began on Sunday when he received the award (open to the public) in his hometown at the University of Akron in front of family, friends, and the media.
Of course, the media has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere the past day or so, when it was revealed that several Orlando-based voters placed Dwight Howard ahead of James on their respective ballots. Even though James received 116 of a possible 123 first-place votes and won the award in a landslide, issues like local bias have been conjured up to explain why Howard (who finished fourth on the ballot) received three first-place votes.
Although Howard is a magnificent talent, a rare breed of player in today’s perimeter-oriented NBA, and more than worthy of being named the Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season, there’s no way to justify choosing him over James at the MVP. Mind you, this is not an indictment on Howard. Not at all. This is a recognition of an individual that has transcended the sport of basketball. Someone that, according to Larry Bird, will “probably be better than all of us when it’s all said and done.”
That person is LeBron James.
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic SF Mickael Pietrus — to no one’s surprise — said after Monday’s practice that he would play tonight in the playoff opener against the Atlanta Hawks. ”Yes, I’m playing,” he said. Pietrus sprained his left ankle during Sunday’s practice, walked out of the trainer’s room in a protective boot and said afterward that he “didn’t know” if he could play. He left RDV Sportsplex on Monday, walking to his car in bare feet. Pietrus has misled the media before about the severity of injuries. ”I’m like a snake,” Pietrus said, apparently meaning that a snake can still wiggle after its head is cut off.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “[Dwight] Howard averaged 21.0 points, 16.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game against the Hawks during the regular season. He also recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds in 11 of the teams’ last 12 regular-season games; the lone exception came this past January in a blowout Orlando victory in which Howard played less than half the game. Hawks coach Mike Woodson insisted that he won’t make up his mind whether to defend Howard one-on-one or double-team Howard until gameday. Atlanta tried both approaches during the regular season. Woodson likes to double-team Howard when his all-star center Al Horford is in the game, because that tactic helps Horford stay out of foul trouble. Woodson sometimes elects to defend Howard one-on-one, especially when Atlanta backup center Zaza Pachulia is on the floor.”
- Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The local consensus has long been that Orlando is the one team the Hawks cannot handle, and on the record that has been true. The [Orlando] Magic won six consecutive meetings over the past two seasons; indeed, the Hawks went more than a calendar year — from Oct. 28, 2008 to March 24, 2010 — without beating their Southeast Division cousin. But Orlando is tough on everybody (Cleveland most notably), and if you look hard you’ll see the Hawks have a puncher’s chance. [...] My first inclination was to take Magic in six, but something about this matchup leads me to think it’ll go the distance. And where would the weight of expectation in such a Game 7 fall? Not on the Hawks. The Milwaukee series was strange: The Hawks went from too loose to too tight to almost gone. But they made it through, and they see real opportunity in Round 2. So do I. Hawks in seven.”
- Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The video and statistical evidence, accumulated by Synergy Sports Technology, seems to support a varied approach. In the four games against the Hawks, Howard attempted to score 34 times on post-ups against Horford. The Hawks sent a second defender before Howard made his move on 10 of those possessions. When Howard was alone vs. Horford, the Magic center scored 16 points on 24 possessions (five field goals and six free throws). Howard turned the ball over four times. That’s excellent defense by Horford, but it’s even better when he gets help. The Hawks forced nine turnovers on those 10 possessions (Howard scored the one time he got off a shot). This goes to explain why Woodson said that, while he’s tempted to let Horford handle Howard on his own, the success of the double team makes him hesitant to try. But sending a second defender can leave the Hawks vulnerable on the perimeter against one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league. That’s a worry for the Hawks, who’ve been inconsistent all season with closing out on shooters.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Center Jason Collins played a total of only 3 minutes, 39 seconds in the Atlanta Hawks’ first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. But to hear Hawks coach Mike Woodson tell it, that could change when the Hawks face the Orlando Magic in the teams’ upcoming Eastern Conference semifinal series. In fact, the Hawks could take a page from the Charlotte Bobcats’ game plan. In the first round, the Bobcats employed three different centers — and those centers’ 18 available personal fouls – and forced Howard to the bench because of foul trouble in each game. Woodson said Collins will see some playing time backing up Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.”
- Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel shares the news that Mickael Pietrus will suit up and play in Game 1.
- ESPN’s Jalen Rose calls the Orlando Magic the best team in the playoffs but with a caveat.
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that nothing that the Hawks do in the series will surprise Orlando, but he fully expects Atlanta to use 6-foot-7 guard Joe Johnson on Jameer Nelson at times in the series. Nelson was Orlando’s most consistent player against Charlotte, averaging 23.8 points and 4.5 assists while carving up Raymond Felton and the Bobcats. The Magic expect that Atlanta will use point guards Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford on Matt Barnes and [Mickael] Pietrus, while small forward Marvin Williams will check Carter. The matchup that favors Orlando the most is the one that involves Howard against Atlanta big men Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia. [Dwight] Howard averaged 21 points, 16.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in four games this season against the Hawks this season while shooting 55.1 percent.”
- The Magic’s #1 target on defense is going to be Joe Johnson.
- Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy chime in on the MVP voting.
- Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference likes Orlando to win their series against the Atlanta Hawks in 5 games.
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel thinks that the Magic will make quick work of the Hawks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. The stat geeks agree.
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “I’m trying to come up with a statistical indicator to favor Atlanta, and I’m drawing a blank. Orlando has home-court advantage, led the NBA in point differential and crushed Charlotte in four games in the first round despite having “Foul On You” nailed to the bench for all but 26.5 minutes a game. Meanwhile, the Hawks did little to encourage supporters by struggling past an injury-depleted Milwaukee squad in Round 1. Moreover, the head-to-head history over the past two years is pretty one-sided. Atlanta won at Orlando on opening day of the 2008-09 season by 14 points, but since then it has been all Orlando. The Magic have won six of the past seven games, including wins by 17, 18, 32 and 34. Atlanta’s only win in that span was by two points at the buzzer.”
- Vince Carter reminisces on his dunk on 7’2” Frederic Weis in the 2000 Summer Olympics: “That was probably one of the proudest moments of my life when I did that. It’s something that you just can’t duplicate. I tell you once it happened, like a month after the Olympics, having a conversation with my buddies, I tried to jump over a guy who is 6′5″. Now Frederic Weis is 7′1″, or something like that – who’s counting? He’ might of been 7′2″, but whatever. My buddy is 6′5″. I tried to jump over him. I almost hurt him and myself at the same time. So the moon and stars must have been aligned correctly at the same time for me to do that. But, hey, whatever.”
- Zach Lowe of Off the Dribble tackles the adjusted plus/minus issue in the NBA: “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology IT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is regarded as a gathering of like-minded sports dorks pushing basketball statistics away from traditional measures, such as points and assists, and toward more advanced measures, including hockey-style plus/minus. But at this year’s conference in March a debate continued over whether plus/minus is relevant when evaluating individual players in basketball. Some critics contend it might work better in measuring the effectiveness of five-man lineups.”
Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
No introduction necessary.
A few days ago, I was able to ask Rock a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks.
Do you foresee Jameer Nelson having his way on offense in his matchup with Mike Bibby as he did against Raymond Felton?
I’ll put it this way: [Jameer] Nelson might not stay as hot as he was against Charlotte, but if there’s any defender who can help keep him hot, it’s Mike Bibby. The Hawks switch every screen, and have for years under coach Mike Woodson, which helps hide Bibby’s poor D somewhat. But Nelson likely won’t need any screens to get to where he wants on the floor against Bibby. I expect him to do more driving and less three-point bombing against the Hawks.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images
Hoopinion is known by many around the blogosphere for the past few years as an excellent site that covers the Atlanta Hawks, authored by Bret LaGree. But what people may not know is that LaGree has produced a playwright before, titled “Guyworld” … talk about writing versatility! In any case, if you’re ever in need an educated take or the latest scoop on the Hawks, Hoopinion is the place to go. LaGree drops knowledge, without a doubt.
A few days ago, I was able to ask LaGree a few questions to preview the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks.
Some people have stated that the Atlanta Hawks’ performance in the first round revealed more questions than answers, most notably concerning the team’s inconsistency, head coach Mike Woodson’s coaching acumen, etc. Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why?
Perimeter defense, defensive rebounding, predictability in the half-court (both offensively and defensively) which can be exploited down the stretch of close games, an inability to get to the free throw line, and a lack of depth have all been problems for the Hawks for years but little of that has really taken root in the national consciousness. I suspect that it’s rare that the team who averages the fourth-fewest possessions per game in the league is commonly perceived and frequently described as a devastating transition team.
So, yes, making adjustments isn’t Mike Woodson’s strength (nor does his roster give him a lot of options; granted, some of that is his own doing), and, yes, you’d think that by being a former Larry Brown assistant Woodson would be a good defensive coach but the Hawks have never been a good defensive team under him, and, yes, the Hawks look great when they get out and run but they can’t do that consistently because they don’t rebound enough of the misses they force and, when that happens, they become over-reliant on jump shots created within a half-court system that prizes dribbling over ball and player movement. I don’t think anything that was revealed in the Milwaukee series was news to Hawks fans but the some common misconceptions casual or infrequent viewers of the team were dispelled.