Recap: Orlando Magic 105, Atlanta Hawks 75 | Magic Basketball

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May 08

Recap: Orlando Magic 105, Atlanta Hawks 75

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

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In a game that was rather uneventful from the opening tip, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 105-75 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Magic were led by an excellent performance from Rashard Lewis, who had 22 points and five rebounds. Dwight Howard finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Jameer Nelson and Matt Barnes chipped in with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Jamal Crawford led the way for the Hawks, with 22 points.

First of all, let’s go back to the closing moments of the third quarter in Game 2. For those that don’t remember, Crawford makes a ridiculous, rainbow three-pointer to briefly give the Hawks a two-point lead at 84-82. There’s only a few seconds left remaining in the period and it looks like, for the moment, Atlanta will be heading to the fourth quarter with a lead on the road in a game that they have to have if they want any chance at winning the series. Unfortunately for the Hawks, on the ensuing play, Nelson sprints down the court and is able to bank-in a three-point shot at the buzzer to retake the lead for the Magic. For Atlanta, it was a damaging blow to their psyche and the events of Game 3 merely confirmed that fact. The Hawks, to be frank, looked like a defeated team in tonight’s game and it’s not too outlandish to point back to the aforementioned sequence of events in Game 2 to explain this phenomenon.

In the first quarter, Orlando ran a number of 4-out/1-in offensive sets for Howard and Atlanta’s response defensively was to send double-teams. Perhaps this was a reaction to Howard having his way on offense in the first quarter in Game 3. Well, whatever the case may be, it was a bad choice for the Hawks. Howard showed tremendous patience in the post and kicked the basketball out to the perimeter on almost everyone possession. And just like Game 1, the shooters for the Magic had a field day. Even if Orlando missed shots, which they did, there were open looks to be had. Howard did get into foul trouble late in the period, which did throw a wrench into the synergy that was being showcased on offense, but Marcin Gortat was able to fill-in admirably.

Even in Howard’s absence for the early portions of the second quarter, the Magic didn’t miss a beat offensively. This was a testament to Gortat’s energy, which was fantastic, as he was able to keep possessions alive for Orlando by grabbing a few offensive rebounds. For example, on two different instances in the period, Gortat was able to snag an offensive rebound, which resulted in threes for Nelson and Lewis. These are the type of plays that demoralize an opponent, as they did to an already demoralized Atlanta team. When Howard checked back in the game, the Magic returned to their inside-out attack. It didn’t result in a lot of points for Howard but it did open things up for other players to score, like Mickael Pietrus.

In contrast, the Hawks didn’t do much of anything the entire night. Joe Johnson’s alter-ego “Iso-Joe” reared his ugly head, missing jumper after jumper and agitating the home crowd with his poor shot selection — this is the player you want to reward with a max contract in free agency this off-season? For a third consecutive game, there was very little ball movement from Atlanta. There would be a pass here and there but it would leave, inevitably, to the Hawks clanking long two’s off the rim. If you didn’t know already, that’s the most inefficient shot to attempt. Amidst the rubble, Crawford deserves credit for giving a crap and making some shots but he was one of the few players for Atlanta that seemed to care their playoff lives were at stake.

Honestly, there isn’t much else to say about a series that’s been very one-sided.

The Magic, if anything, played like the team that was down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. There was a sense of urgency from Orlando for 48 minutes and it wasn’t too hard to tell by how they played. The ball movement was crisp on offense, the execution was great on both ends of the court, and the Magic played like a team dead-set on going in for the killshot. All the credit needs to be directed at head coach Stan Van Gundy because he has his players prepared and keeps them grounded despite the success they’ve had so far. Very rarely will Orlando’s focus waver at the task at hand. This was evident in the first round against the Charlotte Bobcats when the Magic finished things off on the road and it’s evident now against the Hawks.

Orlando is primed for a second consecutive sweep in the postseason and the reason why they’re in this position right now is very simple.

The Magic have executed to near perfection.

11 comments
Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Adolfo

Van Gundy won't let the Magic be overconfident. If the Magic sweep the Hawks or beat them in 5 games, surely the "lack of competition" storyline will be explored and played out. Problem is, you can't compare this year's Magic team to last year's Cavaliers team. It's the easy way out but those are teams with different players, different motivations, different coaches, etc.

@Jayson

This team knows that a championship doesn’t get delivered to your door; it gets earned through the accumulation of every possession of every game. They wont take any team lightly from here on in.

You nailed it with your last two sentences ...

@Dana the Magic Fan

The Magic didn't sweep the Cavaliers during the regular season last year. They won the season series 2-1 but I get what you're trying to say. No matter what Orlando does, Cleveland will be favored in a potential matchup in the playoffs. You know what? That's fine ... not sure why people are so obsessed with wanting the media to bow down to the Magic. Personally, I think it's better that Orlando is continuously overlooked. Even then, to think that the Cavaliers aren't deserving to be the favorites isn't outlandish. Cleveland is an excellent team, as exhibited by the fact they were second in the NBA in efficiency differential during the regular season (+7.3). And the Cavaliers have the best player on the planet, so certainly I can see why people would like them to win in a series with the Magic. Whatever the case may be, we'll find out soon enough who's better than who.

@Lisa

The Cavaliers rested James as a precaution, not because they were getting ready for the Magic. Cleveland has to take care of their own business with Chicago and Boston. At this point, I think it's foolish to be overconfident. Orlando hasn't done anything, yet.

@NC Magic Fan

Correct.

Adolfo
Adolfo

Good replies guys...!!! I was just a little bit worried because I've seen every game of these series (Bobcats and Hawks) and the Magic make it look so easy...!!! but your comments have been a relief... GO MAGIC...!!!

NC Magic Fan
NC Magic Fan

@Adolfo
Easy road?

Against the team with the leagues BEST defensive rating, swept with an average winning margin of 9.25.

The team with the leagues SECOND BEST offensive rating, three for three, holding them to an average of 81.3 points per game and an average winning margin of 29 ppg. Holding their All Star Franchise player to 9 ppg below his season average.

It has not been weak competition, the best defensive team, a 53 win team with two All Stars (and complaints that they didn't have a third). No it is not the quality of the competition, it is the fact that it has been pure domination.

Lisa
Lisa

It's crazy how badly everyone in sports news wants Orlando to lose. I'd love to ask Cheryl Miller to explain how being undefeated is a BAD thing. It seems like only Charles Barkley has the guts to go against his party (NBA) and give the Magic some props. Every single headline I've seen this playoff has been about how the opposing team lost, not how the Magic have dominated.

Funny how being undefeated was a good thing for the Cavs at this point last year, but then, seeing as how they HAD to rest their star just to be ready for the Magic, maybe I can see their point. And getting Shaq to stop D12? Maybe if Dwight just stands at center court all night, Shaq can keep up. Cleveland should have checked with Phoenix to see how that "Magic bullet" worked out for their playoff hopes!

Dana the Magic Fan
Dana the Magic Fan

Its upsetting that last year the magic had a tough road in the playoffs (phillie in six, bos in seven) and still weren't the favorites to beat cleveland (because they swept first two rounds) in the ECF eventhough they(the magic) went through more adversity. Then this year sweep charlotte, sweep atlanta (almost) and we are still not the favorites. The media is sooo in love with the cavs that no matter what we (the magic) do they have us down and out. You can even go back to the hypocrisy of the media in which last year we swept the cavs in the regualr season and it was dismissed for the playoffs but we dominate. Then the cavs split with us and have a favorable record against the contenders (lakers, bos) this year and now they definitely will win and be the favorites. I just wish that the media and educated and respected basketball blogs will just say that my team (the magic) will be a tough out for anybody instead of constantly overlooking us and being in love with lebron and kobe.

Jayson
Jayson

@Adolfo

I see where you're coming from. In the pre-game show they seemed to question the Magic because they hadn't played anyone on their level yet. But they can't control that. All they can do is win. And that's exactly what they've done.

And lets take a moment to talk about how they've won. Yeah they should beat Atlanta and Charlotte. But instead they've crushed them. Atlanta is a 53 win team, a three seed. And we've made them look like they don't belong in the playoffs at all. The Cavs and Celtics are going to beat each other up for two more games at least. After that we'll see what we do against "real" competition.

But honestly, watching the other Eastern Conference teams play, the Magic have been far and away the best team. We have had contributions from each and every guy on the floor. We have been the most focused, team oriented squad in the playoffs. Just watch all those interviews they show during and after the game. Vince Carter says its all about winning; he doesn't care about how much he scores. Dwight says that its bigger than one game; its about hoisting a banner. This team is the scariest team in the league right now. Maybe Cleveland or Boston can beat us, but they need to rise to our level to do it.

And I don't think they'll be overconfident. We would have seen that already. they could have come into game 3 and mailed it in expecting their superior talent to take care of the Hawks. instead they stayed focus, fought for a good looks on offense and strong contests on defense, got the ball to the hot guy, and won a game against a team that should have wanted it more. This team knows that a championship doesn't get delivered to your door; it gets earned through the accumulation of every possession of every game. They wont take any team lightly from here on in.

Adolfo
Adolfo

The Magic have had an easy road so far, What do you think? This might affect next series, lets say overconfident or not enough level from these first two teams to prepare them for the Cavs/Celtics?

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Patrick

Fixed. Thanks for the catch. That's my bad.

Paul
Paul

I love watching this team.

Patrick
Patrick

Eddy, you're better than that. You references fo games in the 2nd paragraph are off by one. Rookie mistake. Love the rest though. Keep up the good work

Adolfo
Adolfo

The Magic is just playing PERFECT...!!! they make it look very easy... GO MAGIC!!!