Overview: The Atlanta Hawks overpowered the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half of a 98-84 victory. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 23 points and seven assists, and 4 of the Hawks’ starters scored at least 16 points.
Oh God the Birds Bullets:
I would break the Cavs’ losses this season into two basic categories. The first category is the “there is no way a professional basketball team can possibly play that badly” losses — those are the ones where the Cavs give up open three-pointers and drives to the paint at will without even pretending to play help defense, don’t push the tempo offensively or keep the floor spread, and throw up some lazy mid-range jumpers or force some doomed drives to the basket before jogging back to watch the other team practice running their offensive sets. Those are not fun.
However, losses like this, where it becomes apparent that the Cavs had no chance of winning the game regardless of their strategy or effort level, are not much more fun. At almost every position, the Hawks are bigger, faster, and more skilled than the Cavs. That is not a good thing. The turning point in the game came when Joe Johnson decided to start shooting over Boobie Gibson and drilling mid-range jumpers. What is Boobie supposed to do? Grow? Risk fouling him on a jumper? What is Byron Scott supposed to do? Double Johnson 18 feet out and give Horford/Smith an open run to the rim or Bibby an open three? Should he go to his bench and get Jawad in there to guard Johnson, even though Jawad has reached new, The Abyss – like depths of awful recently?
The Cavs did eventually start doubling Johnson, but the Hawks calmly rotated the ball and made open jumpers — Horford is the type of player than Andy can usually defend, but he was automatic as usual from mid-range and was able to convert on some weird hybrid floater/layup type things — he didn’t go all the way to the rim or commit to drawing contact, but he made strong moves and knocked down those weird little tweener layups with ease. Dude is really good. Throw in Josh Smith lighting up Jamison on defense, Marvin Williams bullying AP inside and stepping out for threes, and the Cavs really had no chance.