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Hawks/Bucks: Can home cooking kick-start struggling Bucks?

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2009/2010 NBA Playoffs - Round One


53-29 (19-22 road) 
46-36 (28-13 home)
April 24, 2010
Bradley Center
6:00 PM
Radio: WTMJ AM 620 TV: FSN Wisconsin/ESPN
Probable starters:
Mike Bibby
PG Brandon Jennings
Joe Johnson
SG John Salmons
Marvin Williams
SF Carlos Delfino
Josh Smith
PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Al Horford
C Kurt Thomas
Series: Hawks lead 2-0


Hawks Coverage

Peachtree Hoops / Hoopinion / Hawks Str8Talk / Atlanta Journal Constitution

The first 96 minutes of basketball in Atlanta didn't exactly provide much reason for optimism, but take heart: the Bucks are a much better team at home and Atlanta's road record (19-22) is a steep dropoff from their home record (36-7).  While the Bucks' scoring differential is not surprisingly better at home (+3.6 pts/100 possessions vs. +0.1 pts/100 on the road), it's all thanks to improved offense.  The Bucks' defense was actually notably worse at the BC this season (104.3 pts/100 vs. 101.8 on the road), but they made up for it and then some with offense (+6.0 pts/100 at home).   
Charles Gardner writes that Jerry Stackhouse is optimistic that kind of home court advantage will continue:

"I just think playing at home should give us an advantage," said Bucks forward Jerry Stackhouse. "We've been a pretty good home team for most of the season.

"We've just got to come out and play with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, and you tend to do that at home. You take out a lot of their energy plays and their hustle plays they get from playing at home and having the excitement in their crowd, and it's a closer game.

"We're banking on that same energy giving us some separation. I don't think it's so much about Xs and Os at this point. We know what each team is going to do. It's playing harder and getting that little extra burst, and hopefully we can find that at home."

Gardner also writes that Stackhouse can see himself back in a Bucks uniform next fall.  Fine with me.  

Can Delfino and Salmons find their touch?  
The Bucks' starting wings missed all 15 of their three point attempts in the first two games, a big reason why the Bucks have struggled to compete for more than short stretches.  Curiously, Delfino shot better on the road (.429/.370/.807) than at home (.388/.365/.758), but after making just 5/16 in Atlanta it's going to be tough to play worse in game three.  Salmons' aggregate numbers are similarly skewed towards the road, but those stats are tainted by his time in Chicago, where he shot 39% from the field for 12.7 ppg in 35 mpg at the United Center.  No such problem at the BC, where Salmons is averaging 18.6 ppg on .469/391/.835 shooting.  

AJC: Josh ♥ Milwaukee
Bucks fans are pretty sick of watching Josh Smith dominate on the court, but hey, it's good to see he's trash-talking our city, too.    

"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."

By now Hawks PR Man Arthur Triche, seeing where this was headed, had creeped in to try and break up the party. But, Smoove being Smoove ("I don't care!") he wasn't stopping.

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."

I actually don't find this terribly offensive--I mean, I don't know Josh Smith personally, but he's not the kind of guy I'd expect to heap praise on a town like Milwaukee.  Something tells me he's not the art museum type.  Either way I'm more concerned with what he does on the court, where the Bucks simply haven't had an answer for him.  While we've talked ad nauseum about which matchups might work best against Smith and Joe Johnson, the truth is that none of the Bucks seemed capable of checking Smith in game two, much of it coming down to awareness and effort more than anything.  Which has Scott Skiles feeling just great.  Or not.

"Josh had nine field goals, one in the post and one on a jump shot," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "The other seven were on lob dunks after timeouts, two on offensive rebounds.

"I know every coach that plays the Hawks is going to say we've got to eliminate Josh's easy field goals, but it's difficult to do. The guy has a knack of getting that done in a game. We've got to somehow get that solved or at least bring it down. Seven of his nine were too easy, and we need to flip that number a little bit."

"They're not going down in the post over and over again," Skiles said. "They're picking and popping Kurt more than anything else, and they've had an after-timeout play mixed in for him as well. About 60% of their offense comes in the first 10 to 12 seconds of the shot clock. We've got to get them in more low-clock situations, which we've struggled to do so far."

I still think Ilyasova has to be a bigger part of the equation (23.5 mpg thus far), though Mbah a Moute has also hinted he could see time against Smith as well.  One place you would like to see Smith spending more time: the perimeter. While Smith has wisely cut down on threes this year (from 87 attempts last year to just 7 this year), he still takes too many long two-pointers (3.0/game, making just 29%).

SDS: Video Breakdown of the Hawks Screen and Roll Defense
We've talked a fair bit about the Bucks' inability to take advantage of the Hawks' switching defense, and Soaring Down South takes a video look at some of the different things they've done to frustrate the Bucks.

The last clip shows the staple of the Mike Woodson era Hawks Defense. In this sequence you actually see the Hawks switch on two different screens. The first was a John Salmons’ screen for Brandon Jennings in which Marvin Williams switched out on Jennings with Joe Johnson taking Salmons. Immediately Kurt Thomas comes to set a screen for Salmons and the Hawks switch again. This time with Al Horford switching out to guard Salmons. We have seen this ample times in this series. ZaZa Pachulia was not as successful in this match up as Horford has been. In the clip Horford actually gets beat to the baseline by Salmons but is able to recover enough to make the shot attempt difficult and force a Salmons miss.