It's a detail that's probably going to get buried beneath stories of cervidae phobia, of rookie generals that ain't shook, of 14-0 runs that make us take our medicine and the continuation of an improbable journey to 3-2. And, frankly, it should. But since we've got the space, the time and the inclination, let's quickly dap up Marvin Williams for being a problem last night, providing us with one of the more pleasant surprises in a Game 5 that was chock full of them.
From the game's first possession, which he capped with a dunk, the Atlanta Hawks forward and frequent "Hey, something something Chris Paul instead of you!" punchline pressed the action, using his quickness to attack the Milwaukee Bucks' stout defense off the bounce and get into the lane. Once he got there, Williams used his athleticism and length to finish, and man, did he do it efficiently -- the shot chart from his 8-for-10 evening looks like a sharpshooter's target practice grouping, featuring a tightly packed 4-for-5 cluster right at the rim.
He also took advantage of the trips to the charity stripe that tend to result from such aggressive driving, nailing all six of his foul shots to finish with 22 points and (according to my English major guerrilla math, at least) an obscene True Shooting Percentage of 87 percent. (NOTE: Please understand that, as I am not a child, I'm not extrapolating this single-game sample to suggest that Marvin Williams is the greatest offensive force that the world has ever seen; I'm merely saying that, in this game, dude was strict-up phenomenal.) It's a damn shame that for several reasons — like Al Horford getting whatever he wanted on the block, Joe Johnson being near-max enough to need his shots and Jamal Crawford choosing to celebrate his Sixth Man of the Year Award with 18 heaves — he didn't get more than 10 field-goal attempts. With the way Williams was feeling it, a damn good night could've become truly special.
That said, I'll admit that this post's headline might be a bit hyperbolic. After all, Williams has scored more points in the league -- his career high is 33, earned on 12-for-20 shooting against the Seattle SuperSonics on Jan. 25, 2008. And with just 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal last night, the rest of his stat line wasn't exactly overwhelming. Heck, he's even had better numerical nights this season, popping for 29 points (13-for-19, 3-for-5 from three-point range) and 9 boards against the Rockets on Nov. 20, 2009, and 26 (10-for-14, 5-for-5 at the free-throw line) and 9 against San Antonio just over a month ago on March 21, 2010.
Obviously, the fact that Williams had such a great night in a playoff game, with the series knotted at 2 and so much on the line, ratchets this outing up a notch. But that's not it — not all of it, at least. Thing is, while I certainly don't profess to have seen every Hawks game since 2005 (or even most of them), I'm hard-pressed to remember a time when Marvin Williams seemed so dangerous. When he made you think, "Wow, at this point, the Hawks should really be looking for Marvdawg every trip down the court." All of the enticing measurables and overdrive draft-night adjectives that led the Atlanta front office to call Williams' name, finely aged by five years in the big leagues, came out to play last night. We shouldn't ignore that kind of harmonic convergence just because his squad took an L.
- Marvin Williams