Over the next few weeks, Jordan Kahn will be providing video breakdowns of key sets and plays from many of the playoff games. Check out previous entires here. Find more from Jordan at Basketball Things and follow him on Twitter @AyoitsJordan.
The Celtics were able to close out the Hawks on Thursday night, but Atlanta pushed them to the bitter end. Let’s take a look at Atlanta’s playcalling in the controversial end to Game Six.
With about 30 seconds remaining and the Hawks down by one, Josh Smith took a Josh Smith-esque shot that missed the mark and forced Atlanta to foul. Mike Prada of SB Nation detailed how the Celtics’ grabbing and holding prevented Atlanta from getting what they really wanted on the play: a Josh Smith post-up.
After Ray Allen made one free throw, the Hawks ran a side out of bounds play for Joe Johnson. It looked like they were trying to inbound the ball to Al Horford and perhaps handoff or fake the handoff to Joe Johnson, similar to the action they used against the Knicks during the regular season. Horford is denied the pass and Josh Smith comes to receive the pass. When he gets the ball back Johnson does a nice job beating Paul Pierce off the dribble, but his shot is blocked.
Following the block, the Hawks called a timeout and had one of the more chaotic huddles of the season. Al Horford wants Larry Drew to draw up the play instead of talking about it, and there seems to be overall confusion and/or disinterest among the rest of the players. By the end of the huddle, it looks like Drew calls a different play that everyone knew, instead of the play that was being diagramed during the huddle. Here’s video of the huddle.
During the actual play, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague set screens for Joe Johnson, who is running to the corner. The Celtics easily switched on the screens and covered Johnson. At that point, it is unclear where the action should be. Josh Smith and Jeff Teague assume the ball will get to Johnson, and Horford is looking for someone to screen before he ends up drawing a foul on Marquis Daniels. Video of the play is below. (Note: the audio is out of sync on the video, so the whistle did not occur that early during the game.)
The Hawks should have been awarded with a free throw and possession of the ball, as Mike Prada explains over at SB Nation. The ball was clearly not yet inbounded when the foul occurred. However, without the bailout foul by Daniels, this play was pretty simple and easily handled by Avery Bradley’s switch. Personally, I was looking forward to Larry Drew calling a play that was run earlier in the season that worked perfectly (except for the missed layup) against the Nuggets. Video of that play is below. Who said Larry Drew couldn’t draw up a mean inbounds play?
On this play, even if the Celtics were to switch, Al Horford (taking the place of Zaza Pachulia in the play) could have sealed his man on his back and rolled to the hoop. Regardless, the play Drew called somehow worked.
After the foul, the Hawks had another side out of bounds play. Daniels is again matched up with Horford, and Atlanta takes advantage of it. Horford walks Daniels into the post, and while Daniels attemps to deny the ball, Horford seals him, creating a wide open lane. Josh Smith delivers a perfect lob, and Daniels is forced to foul to prevent a layup. Video of the play is below
It turns out that if Al Horford didn’t have the opportunity to push around Marquis Daniels, the Hawks would have run an isolation for Joe Johnson. So the good news is that Hawks fans didn’t have to watch another Iso Joe. The bad news is that Horford couldn’t sink the free throws and the Hawks lost the series. Tough season for Atlanta, and one wonders what could have been if Horford wasn’t out for most of the year.