Hawks Unsure About Double-Teaming Dwight Howard

by May 04, 2010

Mike Woodson claims not to know what his strategy will be, but there’s some evidence out there that suggests going at Dwight with both single and double coverage. The AJC reports: “Assuming he’s not just being sly, Hawks coach Mike Woodson won’t decide what to do about Magic center Dwight Howard until some time on Tuesday. Woodson is wrestling with a difficult problem. The solution is central to the Hawks’ chances against the Magic in their Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, which opens Tuesday night. ‘We still haven’t figured out what we are going to do yet as far as double [team] him or play him straight-up,’ Woodson said before the Hawks departed for Orlando on Monday. “That is something I will sleep on tonight and make the final decision [Tuesday].’ No matter which strategy Woodson settles on, it may well work better than expected against Howard, at least if the four regular season games against Orlando are an indication. A review of those games indicates the Hawks had more success slowing Howard by sending a second man to help guard him in the post. But Hawks center Al Horford, an All-Star like Howard, more than held his own when left to defend him alone. ‘I feel like if we show both things, it works best for our team,” Horford said. The video and statistical evidence, accumulated by Synergy Sports Technology, seems to support a varied approach. In the four games against the Hawks, Howard attempted to score 34 times on post-ups against Horford. The Hawks sent a second defender before Howard made his move on 10 of those possessions. When Howard was alone vs. Horford, the Magic center scored 16 points on 24 possessions (five field goals and six free throws). Howard turned the ball over four times. That’s excellent defense by Horford, but it’s even better when he gets help. The Hawks forced nine turnovers on those 10 possessions (Howard scored the one time he got off a shot).”