I caught the overtime of this game last night, and it was downright puzzling. The Hawks kept trying to force their offense through Joe Johnson. That’s understandable. He’s been their best and most clutch player for a long time now, and is one of the best in the league this year. However, their spacing was terrible, and the Nets were giving good help, and the whole time Josh Smith had Vince Carter on him. I know swingmen moonlighting as powerforwards is the new hotness, but let’s get serious. Vince is no Ron Artest. Well, they ignore the matchup again and again, and when they do finally try to exploit it, the Nets are ready for it, and Vince gets help from Lopez and winds up stripping the ball at the rim a la Jordan or Malone – that’s Michael and Karl – not Eddie and Brendan.
At the other end the Nets were a little bit better about exploiting that same mismatch – probably because running their late-game offense through Carter is not such a stretch for them. They did still try to force the ball into Harris’s hands while it was clear that Vince could get by Smith at will and the team D was stacked against Harris – nice job by Joe Johnson on defense in that overtime actually. They switched him onto Harris and let Bibby cover a stationary, perimeter Jarvis Hayes, and Joe J did a nice job guiding Harris to the help and not leaving his feet. It looked like the Nets had gone to the clearly dry Harris well once too often when he coughed it up and gave up a 1 point lead.
But Carter hit one of those Kobe-deep threes that he hits and that was that. All in all I hate second guessing coaches, and basketball is less of science than an art, but I bet if they could play that overtime again both teams would be more aggressive in using their mismatches and less reliant on their old standby isolations.