Five Thoughts on the Hawks Equalizing with the Heat:
1. Did anyone else feel a little skeptical that Dwyane Wade was struggling though a bad game, then his coach magically asserted that his back was bothering him, at which point Wade went off in the fourth quarter? Then, with 90 seconds to go and the Hawks having beaten back the Heat's rally, Wade initiates a little contact with Joe Johnson and all of a sudden his back is hurting again? So, just so we're clear, Wade's back hurts when he's playing poorly and then when the game is over, but it's fine when he's hitting shots left and right to lead a rally.
2. Someone should put the fourth quarter into a time capsule so future generations will know the Platonic ideal of a Josh Smith performance. One minute, he's hoisting up a 22-footer with 18 seconds left on the shot clock when the Heat had narrowed the deficit to nine points. The next minute, he's flying after an offensive rebound and then hitting a cutting Flip Murray as Smith is falling out of bounds. The former play is easily correctable and obviously dumb, yet Smith keeps making it. The latter play involved athleticism, hustle, and terrific basketball smarts to know exactly where his teammate was. They were made by the same player.
3. The most ominous development this series: Jermaine O'Neal is playing well. I'd normally feel good about a best-of-three with two of the three games at Philips, but O'Neal giving Miami a post threat and a jump shooter to go with Wade is a problem.
4. Tonight's game was the 86th of the season. Back when this march began in November, it was assumed that the Hawks' bench would be the team's weakness. Tonight, in a must-win game in late April, the Hawks' crunch time lineup included two members of the allegedly soft bench: Flip Murray and Zaza Pachulia. Those two were instrumental in the win, combining for 23 points and 23 rebounds. Meanwhile, Miami's bench contributed a whopping two points.
5. I dislike everything about Miami. I don't like the people who live there, a collection of schmucks who have all of the obnoxiousness of New Yorkers without any of the taste. I wouldn't put the '72 Dolphins in the top five NFL teams of the Super Bowl era and yet they're on my TV every fall. I resent the travesty that was the 2006 Finals. And now, I'll add to my disdain the way the Heat play basketball. I'm not sure what James Naismith had in mind when he invented the game, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't every fourth quarter offensive possession consisting of an isolation up top for one player. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a series between a player and team. For the sake of basketball and humanity, the team should win...so the Hawks rather than the Heat can have the honor of losing in five to the Cavs.
Great post---We call what Wade does with his back "Fred Couples Syndrome"---Freddy's back would be suddenly better when he was high on the leaderboard and "acting up" when he wasn't---
nice post. big fan of the blog. And yeah hard to get worked up about the Hawks either way when it is clear that the winner of this series is little more than a sacrificial lamb.
My favorite play of the game was when Wade decided to milk one of the various perfectly legit noncalls against him by staying on his back in the Heat's backcourt, but instead of calling timeout his teammates turned it over and Evans raced ahead for a dunk while Wade realized his acting job had just cost them two easy ones. LOLZ.
Zaza was a beast last night. If he played the regular season with half as much intensity as he plays in the playoffs, he'd be the Hawks' Varejao at the minimum ... but I guess that's the cost of keeping Mike Woodson as your head coach.
Regarding #4, you didn't mention Mario West and Solomon Jones and their plus/minus of -10 and -15, respectively. For Solomon Jones it is particularly impressive, considering he played only 3 minutes.
This team really needs Marvin Williams back.
I agree entirely with your premise about despising the travesty that was the 2006 Finals. By allowing Dwyane Wade to run free in that series, the NBA has essentially said that the teams with D-Wade, Lebron, Kobe, and Paul Pierce will continue to win championships. D-Wade basically made it okay for player to drive with reckless abandon to the basket and as long as contact happens, no matter who initiates it, the star is going to get the call. So basically, you've got guys that shoot 9-26 from the field scoring 30+ because they get to the line every time someone so much as breathes on them. It's a shame and frankly it's bastardized the game. But we all know Stern will never do anything about it because the NBA is a star-driven league. By allowing this the NBA is going to pick up a lot of casual fans, but the people that really care about and understand basketball are going to stop watching.
Being in Miami for Game 3 I can tell you that the Heat fans are just as petulant as Wade when he wants a foul and the refs don't oblige.
Add the Marlins being the largest beneficiaries of the broken baseball playoff system to your reasons to hate Miami.
The more shocking thing about winning that game last night was that one of the officials was Bennett Salvatore who was partially responsible for Wade getting 25 free throws in game 5 of the previously mentioned 2006 finals.
The +/- stat is a TEAM stat, not solely an individual stat and I really wish people would stop using it as such. In some cases it does accurately represent a players performance on the court, but more often than not, it doesn't. Let me provide an example.
One player comes in scores 22, has 11 reb, 4 blk, 1 stl, 0 TO, in 39 minutes. Another player comes in for 10 minutes scores 3, has 5 reb, 1 stl. The +/- for these two players are +10 and -17, but can you tell me which +/- stat belongs to each set of stats?
Of course not, but the relevance of the +/- stat as an accurate indicator of a players success has been so abused and mis-represented that you would probable guess the +10 for the stat-filler and the -17 for the one with the lesser stats. And you would be so wrong since the first stat line is that of Josh Smith and he ended up with -17 because of horrible help defense from Bibby & Co. The other is Mario West along with his +10 in a solid outing one night.
You can not simply state a +/- stat without referencing all the other stats to go with it because it is very misguiding. And since there is no stat for blown defensive plays by a player, it will always be difficult to accurately use the +/- stat for individual use.
Do you really need more stats to justify that Solomon Jones and Mario West were not the best use of personnel last night? Of course +/- isn't an absolute representation for what a player contributed for a particular game, but it is pretty valuable in the long run. How about this: Solomon Jones was horrible when he was on the court, *and* it was reflected in the plus/minus. I think we can agree that his +/- was not a result of his teammates missing assignments. Is "number of 4-point plays responsible for" a stat?
part of me was hoping the Hawks were gonna lose 4 in a row and they'd finally fire Mike Woodson
Not at all, more often than not with Solomon Jones, his +/- typically represents his actual performance, but with Mario West, it's not always the case. I completely agree that Woodson's use of those two players alone has been dubious at best, but I have found that Mario has had plenty of nights where he himself has not been a complete detriment to the team, yet he gets blasted constantly because of a bogus +/- stat at the end of the game. I guess I've become somewhat of a West defender.
Yes, we can most definitely agree on Jones. I just happen to think that the +/- stat needs a serious adjustment as to what it should actually measure. I'm not exactly sure how it would work, but I think changing it from measuring overall scoring while a player is in to scoring a player is directly responsible for would make it much more valuable for individual evaluation purposes.
When it's uses to evaluate rotations, then I think its fine the way it is because it then allows you to take a closer look at sub patterns, and ultimately gives you a measure of coaching efficiency.
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