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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Atlanta's Fast Break

Photo: Jeffrey Phelps / AP

For years everyone has commented on the fact that Atlanta has the wing and post players to run a very effective fast break. Josh and Al (even with a torn pec muscle) can outrun 99% of the 4s and 5s in the league. Marvin can get out and run, and Joe should know how to run the break from his days in Phoenix.

However, the Hawks never had anyone to start the break. Bibby was too old and slow and Joe does everything in smoothly (aka in slow motion). This combined with the fact that both Woody and Drew preach grinding out every possession resulted in the following pace rankings from the 2006-2007 on: 21st, 19th, 24th, 27th, and 27th. Now that Teague has finally been given the reigns as the starting PG, you can start to see the Hawks starting to want to run a little bit more. The problem is this: they have no clue how to run an effective fast break.

Last night Marvin was dribbling down the court after a steal with two defenders in front of him. Josh was actually sprinting down the court on the right wing (instead of his usual trot), because the defender on the right wing was Brandon Jennings. I'm sure every Hawks fan was thinking this would be an easy lob. Instead, Marvin puts his head down and tries to bull his way to the basket. He luckily got the foul call, but instead of an easy lob and dunk he has to get his points from the free throw line. This is but one of many examples of how the Hawks are missing out on easy points night after night. I'm not saying the Hawks should become the Nuggets of the East, but there is no reason they should be squandering so many chances for easy points.

Even worse, every time a play like Marvin's happens, it discourages Josh from running the court and encourages him to try and run the break. Ideally, Josh should be looking to get the ball to Teague as quickly as possible and then sprinting down a wing looking for a lob. Additionally, Teague needs to stop waiting for everyone and just take off. So many times he could simply run past the plodding big men of the other team and get an easy layup. There were several times last night when Teague slowly dribbled the ball up the court, allowing Bogut time to get entrenched in the lane, before trying to drive the lane.

As much as I think Brandon Jennings shoots too much, Teague could take a lesson from Jennings' second half performance. He was in attack mode after every missed Hawks shot. At that point he could either dish for the assist, hit the layup because our big men were being slow, or circle around and dribble the ball back out. The more Teague attacks, the more the rest of the team is going to run with him. This is especially true if he sets up some lobs for Josh.

Everyone loves lobs...


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