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The Orlando Magic‘s utter dominance of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals has been well-documented and, to be honest, this write-up does nothing more than to further throw salt in the wound. And Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post did briefly touch on a similar topic last week. However, I wanted to show how wide the disparity has been, statistically, between the starting lineups of the Magic and the Hawks. Granted, there’s always the issue of sample size when dealing with a limited amount of data but these numbers are too great to ignore. Plus, the statistics do reveal — as first-hand observations would suggest — that Atlanta is better off switching up their lineup even if a series defeat is an inevitability.
There’s only one word to describe what the stats show — wow.
When starting a five-man unit of Bibby-Johnson-Williams-Smith-Horford, the Hawks have had no chance against the Magic. From a basketball perspective, it makes a lot of sense. Whether it’s been Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, or Vince Carter, they all have had their moments of shine against Atlanta’s lineup. Because the Hawks always switch on defense, when necessary, it’s easy to lose count of all the mismatches the Magic have had to their advantage. How many times have you seen Horford guarding Nelson on the perimeter or Bibby defending Lewis in the post? The answer is plenty. That’s the main reason why Atlanta is in the position that they’re in. Their philosophies on both ends of the court have set them up to fail against Orlando.
The Hawks do have a glimmer of hope, though, and it falls on one person.
Even though the Magic still have the advantage against a lineup that replaces Bibby with Crawford at point guard, it’s not as great as before. The reasoning is simple. Bibby is not a good defender. Crawford is no defensive stalwart, either, but he has a better chance of keeping Nelson in front of him as opposed to Bibby. Plus, Crawford has been one of the few players for Atlanta that has given a consistent effort in each game, as well as have some success on offense. Head coach Mike Woodson won’t switch it up in Game 4 with regards to the starting lineup but, in a way, he doesn’t need to. Crawford has gotten the bulk of the minutes at point for the Hawks in the series, anyway, while Bibby has sat on the bench for extended periods of time. For Atlanta to have any chance at winning Game 4, though, Woodson may need to take things to the extreme and limit Bibby’s playing time as much as possible.
The chances of that actually happening, though, are small.