The press release came out late last night, just after media members had filed stories about the Hawks crumbling on the road again — a major announcement in Atlanta at 3 p.m. today (Tuesday). That can only mean one thing:
Jamal Crawford, you are about to be sixth man of the year.
This should be a nearly unanimous vote, Crawford ran away with this. (The fun part, as always, is to see what some media member who barely watches games voted for, ala the David Lee for defensive player of the year vote that made us all laugh and cringe.)
Crawford was a scoring machine off the bench for Atlanta, usually replacing Mike Bibby then changing the energy and flow of the game. He came in with a scorer’s mentality, blowing some games wide open (and shooting them out of a few, too). He was a gunner who stayed in at the end of games and won the Hawks a few in the fourth quarter. That helped break his 11-season playoff drought this year.
Crawford had his best season so far — he scored 18 points per game, not his highest, but it was his best per-minute scoring average of his career (his minutes were down eight per game from last year). What mattered is his shooting got better, hitting a career best 44.9 percent overall, a career best 38 percent from three. Break out the advanced stats and he looks even better — a career best 57.3 true shooting percentage, a career best PER of 18.4. Pretty much if you look at an offensive measure, he had a career best year.
But Crawford is winning this because you don’t need advanced stats to see what Crawford did (many of the older voters are simple Cavemen Sportswriters, and they are frightened by your new technology and stats).
No surprise here, and deserved.
The name Milwaukee comes from the Algonquian tribe word for “good land.” The Atlanta Hawks Josh Smith would like to disagree with that.
Taking the bait from reporters, the Hawks athletic power forward started a little war of words bound to sit poorly with Milwaukee residents, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“There’s pretty much nothing to do,” Smith said. “Miami has some really good restaurants. I never really did anything in Milwaukee. I would be happy to just find a restaurant. I’m not bashing the city but I’ve never actually did anything in Milwaukee so I really don’t know what is around there.”
Someone picked up on the Noah thread and asked Smith if he’d be taking any vacations in Milwaukee.
“Would you go there?” Smith asked. “Everybody knows there ain’t nothing to do in Milwaukee, man. Everybody knows that, (even) the people that live there.”
Well, at least he didn’t use the word “sucks.” (Which Noah did again Thursday, without provocation.)
Hawks management loves Milwaukee, not so much because it is Milwaukee as it is not Miami. There’s a feeling that the team got a little sidetracked in the first round last year because there are so many things to do, so much potential trouble to find in Miami. While you can find trouble in Milwaukee if you want, you have to look a little harder for it. Or for just a top-flight restaurant.
Carlos Delfino cannot play the four.
Let’s just get that out there right away, so we’re all comfortable. The Bucks for reasons beyond belief tried to put Delfino on Josh Smith at the power forward spot and it was an outright disaster. Using Synergy Sports (which released their public version today), we can tell you that Smith went to the post six times on Delfino, and was able to get position each time. Smith only converted 2 of those six opportunities, but I can assure you, the ball touched the inside of the rim more on two of those attempts than the outside. Delfino is simply at too much of a disadvantage inside.
The Bucks’ offense wasn’t really the problem, it was defensively that they seemed to get hung at certain times. They can correct that issue by going with a bigger lineup. According to 82games.com, the best lineup for the Bucks without Andrew Bogut features Ridnour-Stackhouse-Salmons-Ilyasova-Thomas. The second best is the one that has the best chance against the Hawks tonight: Jennings-Salmons-Delfino-Ilyasova-Thomas. It’s this lineup that combats the Hawks’ strengths most effectively.
The Hawks might want to even go so far as putting Salmons at the three defensively and having Delfino play at the 2. In Game 1, Joe Johnson didn’t work in the areas that would give Delfino problems, and his length would probably make for a better matchup and help to keep Johnson off the offensive glass. Salmons would then be left to guard Marvin Williams, who isn’t a vital part of the Hawks’ offense and is unlikely to have the ball moved much through him.
Which leaves Ilyasova to counteract Smith. Smith is still the more athletic of the two, but Ilyasova’s instincts, rebounding and range could help to quarantine the damage a little bit. It’s all these little things the Bucks can do which might lead to them being able to even the series.