Joe vs. No Joe
Taking a quick look at the Hawks stat sheet since Joe Johnson was sidelined and the most glaring difference is the team’s offensive output. In 18 games with Joe the team averaged 100.2 ppg, and in the eight games without Joe they are averaging 93.4 ppg. Seven points doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but think about how many NBA games are decided by single digits.
While it would have been safe to expect a bigger bump for Williams and Evans with Joe’s absence, both of them continue to be bothered by knee injuries. After practice on Monday Coach Drew went as far as suggesting that he may restrict Mo’s minutes (or hold him out completely) when the team is playing the second half of a back-to-back.
The other variable that may not be directly linked to Joe’s availability in the long run is that LD has gone to the “Big” line-up more often in recent games. This line-up pushes Josh to small forward and Marvin to shooting guard. This takes them further from the basket and reduces the number of rebounds that bounce their way. This is one explanation for their drop off in rebounds since Johnson went down.
In summary, there have really not been any surprises since Joe’s surgery. While it would help to get an unexpected “offensive explosion” from an unlikely source to help steal a victory, the Hawks have instead relied on a group effort up until now.
The one thing that was evident in last night’s loss to Detroit was that the Hawks depth is compromised when Joe is out. Jamal had an off night shooting and Marvin had a quiet night as well. It would have been a night when the team would have leaned on Joe for offense like they have done so many times in recent years. Atlanta has shown they CAN win without Joe, but everyone on the team knows he makes things a lot easier. He also might be the one guy on the roster that can put the team on his back and carry them to a win on a night when everyone seems to be struggling.