For four games Joe Johnson played mostly small forward and the Hawks actively sought out ways to avoid their biggest mismatch. Now they finally plan to start Johnson at shooting guard, which begs the question: Why the hell didn’t they do this from the opening tip-off in Game 1?
“Oh, Joe Johnson can probably post up Avery Bradley whenever he wants? Let’s start Kirk Hinrich so Paul Pierce can defend Johnson instead. And when Hinrich goes to the bench, let’s bring in Willie Green so we continue to escape our one biggest advantage,” Drew may or may not have said dozens of times during the first 101 minutes of this series.
I almost understand why. Drew has no trust in Marvin Williams, so moving Johnson to shooting guard became a little tougher. But still. Johnson abusing Bradley in the post was Atlanta’s biggest hope to win this series. Didn’t Drew see what everyone else did?
When this series started, my largest fear was, “Damn it, Johnson’s a tank down low and Bradley — even if he’s one of the world’s best defenders — is too small to counteract his post-ups.” Bradley’s size doesn’t hurt him against most shooting guards in the league because he’s quick and athletic enough to make up for it, but Johnson’s one of the few players with the height, girth and skill to punish Bradley on the block.
Of course, Drew must have seen the same thing. Or maybe not, considering his substitution patterns.
The Hawks are finally looking to take advantage of Bradley’s size. They should have done so several moons ago. Johnson is shooting 36.8 percent from the field in this series.
Boston always has Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic, Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels off the bench, so the matchup shouldn’t be a ginormous concern for Doc Rivers. But the move does neutralize Bradley’s defensive abilities and give Johnson a better matchup, even if it’s four games late.