Second Look: Orlando Magic 98, Atlanta Hawks 84 | Magic Basketball

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May 11

Second Look: Orlando Magic 98, Atlanta Hawks 84

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “For a team driven to be the last men standing, the Orlando Magic have hung around the least amount of time of any playoff entrant. It’s getting so you can see Dwight Howard more on TV in his movie trailers or in his cell-phone commercial than in a series. It’s not as if the Magic don’t enjoy their job or don’t play well with others. They just have been that frighteningly efficient and dominant, more so than any of their contending rivals. On Monday night, the Magic made short work of the Atlanta Hawks with a 98-84 victory at Philips Arena, eliminating them in four games to set up a repeat appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic are halfway home to winning the franchise’s first title, looking poised and purposeful to complete the task after beating a 53-win team by 43, 14, 30 and 14 points.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Just when you think this team might take a night off, they throttle it up and shoot 74 percent in the first quarter Monday night to bury any hopes the Hawks might have had. It’s no wonder Philips Arena seemed more like a cemetery. Atlanta fans obviously took star Joe Johnson’s words to heart. Johnson, after the Hawks were booed off the floor after Game 3, said he “could care less if [fans] show up” at the arena. Well, thousands of fans didn’t’ show up for Game 4, and it’s probably just as well. Why endure even more Magic-inflicted misery? [Stan] Van Gundy obviously doesn’t adhere to the philosophy that his team needed to sample the bitter taste of defeat in order to toughen them up for Cleveland or Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. Although Van Gundy admits a loss can sometimes “wake up” a team; he says the great teams don’t need to lose.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando finished with 27 total assists, a high for them this postseason. On a night when unselfishness was the norm, two of the more important assists came from Howard and [Rashard] Lewis. Howard kicked the ball out early in the fourth quarter to Lewis, who made a 3-pointer to extend Orlando’s lead to 78-66. On Orlando’s next offensive possession, Lewis rotated the ball out to Carter, who sank a 19-foot jumper to give the Magic an 80-66 lead — and control of the game. The offense had worked to perfection.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “How thoroughly dominant were the Magic against the third-seeded, 53-win Hawks? The Magic’s 101-point margin of victory (wins of 43, 14, 30 and 14 points) is the most in NBA history in a four-game playoff series.  “This team is ready for anything,” said Howard, who scored 13 points, made all five his shots and finished with the highest shooting percentage (84.4 percent) in a playoff series. “We are on a mission. It’s not about the individuals with us, but instead what the team can do. We don’t care who gets the points, the rebounds and the shots because it’s just about winning.” Off seven days between the first-round series and the second, the Magic will now have another extended break before getting the survivor of the Cleveland-Boston series. The top-seeded Cavs and fourth-seeded Celtics are locked in a 2-2 tie with Game 5 Tuesday in Cleveland and Game 6 Thursday in Boston. The Magic’s series in the Eastern Conference Finals won’t begin until Sunday at the earliest and Tuesday at the latest. Games 1 and 2 would be in Orlando if Boston emerges, while the series would start in Cleveland if the Cavs survive.”
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “The Magic ran their offense to perfection in the first quarter, and got open looks wherever and whenever they wanted. They scored on 15 of their 22 possessions in the period. To further stress the magnitude of the clinic they put on, turnovers from Howard accounted for 3 of the 7 empty trips. Throughout this series, the Hawks failed to consistently take any one facet of Orlando’s offense away. They couldn’t contain [Jameer] Nelson on the pick-and-roll, Howard in the low post (except for when he turned it over), or any of the perimeter shooting which proved a huge factor in their undoing in this series. Lewis and [Mickael] Pietrus got warmup jumpers thanks to some clean passes, as they did throughout the series. Atlanta tried countering that for a spell by assigning the long, athletic, shot-blocking Josh Smith to cover Pietrus for a few possessions, but rather than use his physical tools as a closeout nightmare, he played off Pietrus and let him shoot. Because playing a guy who had taken 33 of his 46 playoff shot attempts from beyond the arc for the drive is totally reasonable.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “They’d just beaten the Bucks in the first two games of their opening playoffs series. Their offense was clicking, the defense was effective and both Hawks players and their fans were happy. The Hawks weren’t the same thereafter. They lost three straight to Milwaukee, offering lackluster defense and fraying chemistry. They recovered to win that series but two days later walked into a disaster at Orlando, suffering their worst playoff loss since the franchise moved to Atlanta. […] In just nine days, everything changed for the Hawks. Now they head into an offseason that could bring major changes.”
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Johnson averaged 21.1 points this season, 11th-best in the league. If he leaves, those points would have to be made up somewhere. Who’s going to do it? Neither Horford nor Smith is a pure scorer — good players, yes, but not pure scorers. Is Marvin Williams apt to double his average? (We pause now to laugh really hard.) Is Mike Bibby capable of averaging even 10 points a game? I say again: You might not like the way Johnson plays — I myself soured on Iso-Joe last season — but you can’t deny he puts up big numbers. He’s not Kobe or D-Wade, but he’s the third-best shooting guard in the league. Unless the Hawks can find someone better, they’re better off sticking with Joe. And they won’t find anyone better.”
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “There’s a difference between being embarrassed and being disappointed. Losing a playoff series is disappointing. Losing playoff games by lopsided margins because of lack of effort is embarrassing. That’s not about talent.  It’s about character, chemistry and coaching. If ownership and Sund don’t make a coaching change, they basically are saying that getting pushed to the brink of elimination by an undermanned Milwaukee team in round one and getting waxed by a combined 87 points in three games against Orlando in round two was an aberration. The bet here is they’ll decide otherwise. Woodson will be gone.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “The Atlanta Hawks had no answers for the Orlando Magic. Most of the time, they looked unable to recognize which questions were being asked of them. A successful season bred an unsuccessful post-season, first against a less talented team that could better execute a game plan specific to the occasion then against a more talented team that could simply execute a better game plan.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “For the Magic, and their championship hopes, it was a second consecutive sweep, and now another long break to rest and recuperate before facing an opponent in the conference final that will come directly from a hard-fought series. For the Hawks, it’s a dreadful ending that surely will overshadow their best regular season in 12 years, leading to major changes in the franchise, which could include departures by coach Mike Woodson and All-Star Joe Johnson, both without contracts for next season. It has Atlanta burning. It has Orlando thinking it is unbeatable and on track to win a title. The Magic became just the sixth team in history to win its first eight games in a single postseason.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “See if you can wrap your heads around this one: Orlando has outscored opponents by a whopping 421 points over its past 30 games. To put this in perspective, the Lakers, Suns and Celtics — who could be the other three teams left standing when the conference finals start next week — didn’t outscore the opposition by 421 points over the entirety of the 82-game regular season, much less in the final 30 games of it. That’s an average of 14 points per game, which simply isn’t done over long stretches — nobody else in the NBA had an average margin even half that size during the regular season. This isn’t run-of-the-mill good, people. This is blow-your-doors-off, hide-the-women-and-children level domination. The Magic are so good that Stan Van Gundy is in danger of running out of things to worry about.”
  • John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk: “The one caveat for them going forward is that Howard will be facing either Kendrick Perkins or Shaquille O’Neal down low in the conference finals, both of whom provide a much more formidable challenge than Al Horford or Zaza Pachulia did in this series. If Howard plays like he did against Charlotte, The Celtics or Cavaliers could muster up enough offense to send the Magic home. If Howard can be effective in the post and stay out of foul trouble, the Magic have to be the overwhelming favorites to come out of the East again this season, and have a very good chance of winning the first championship in Magic history. The Magic are only halfway to their goal, but they sure do look like a juggernaut at the moment.”
  • Paul Forrester of Sports Illustrated: “Recall, if you will, much the same was asked of a Cleveland team that had blown through the first two rounds without a loss while the Magic wrestled to get past Philadelphia in Round 1, before struggling to get past the Celtics in seven games. Sound familiar to this year’s potential scenario, only with the Magic and Cavs switching places? Look, Orlando has played exquisitely through eight wins, but the Magic haven’t exactly been tested, not against the overmatched Bobcats or the vacation-thirsty Hawks. Both Boston and Cleveland offer far more difficult matchups, from size in the middle to length on the wings to defense on the perimeter. Of course, none of those matchups will mean much if the Celtics or Cavs don’t play with the discipline the Magic have demonstrated. Orlanddo’s defensive rotations are crisp, rarely revealing an open opponent. The passing on offense is endless, the ball moving until it finds an open target. And their shot-making is accurate, punishing double-teams on other areas of the floor. In other words, it’s going to take a combination of talent, effort and focus to beat the Magic, a stew few teams, the kind Boston and Cleveland are capable of, but have yet to show in these playoffs.”
  • Eric Freeman of The Baseline: “Orlando took this game by doing what they’ve done throughout the playoffs: outclassing their opponent in every facet of the game. A 34-23 first quarter announced they were going to end this series tonight, and they carried that performance through the rest of the game: 55.4 percent shooting, 27 assists on 36 field goals, holding the Hawks to only 40.5 percent shooting, etc. ad infinitum. Five players scored at least 12 points, including Vince Carter, who led the team with 22 on 7-of-12 FG.”
  • Sean Deveney of The Baseline: “With their 98-84 win to complete a sweep of the suddenly hapless Hawks, the Magic are now looking at perhaps a week off for rest, relaxation and rust prevention. That’s not always a simple task, and the big question facing the defending East champs is whether the last five weeks have been too easy in advance of what figures to be a tough conference finals matchup. Orlando has not lost since April 2 and swept both of its playoff foes by an average margin of 17.3 points. It’s going well for the Magic. Perhaps too well.”
9 comments
Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Adolfo

I think the Magic's chances against either the Cavaliers or the Celtics are good, but it won't be easy pickings. I'll have more content regarding that topic in the next coming days.

Adolfo
Adolfo

@Everybody
I totally hate Bill Simmons plain and simple!!! Changing the topic I'd totally like a deep analysis from Eddy about the Magic road to the ECF and their chances against the Celtics/Cavs... checking the score at this moment it's more likely the Celtics... GO MAGIC...!!!

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Billy (slickw143)

Yeah, I'd have to agree that's an inaccurate statement.

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

Bradley really believes Johnson is the 3rd best SG in the league??? Has he heard of someone named Brandon Roy? Ginobli is better than Johnson when healthy too. I'd rather have Ginobli at his extension than Johnson with a max contract.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Will, @steelerfaninflorida

That's Simmons for you.

steelerfaninflorida
steelerfaninflorida

@ Will, I saw the column and I wish I hadn't read it...you're right he talked negatively about all things Magic. Very disheartening...

Will
Will

A little off topic (and since we MAY play the Celtics next round): Bill Simmons new column on ESPN is so aggressively anti-Magic/anti-Carter it nearly made me vomit. Don't read it. He even finds ways to use the 1995 Finals against us. . .naturally the Celtics are awesome in the column. Ugh. DON'T READ IT!

I tried to stay unbiased (I generally dislike Simmons) but it seemed that any crack at the Magic was made. . .the stadium, the fans, the history, the players. . .it never ends! Ugh. I am officially off Simmons forever.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Frenchfried

Yeah, the two situations are mutually exclusive. The topic surrounding the Magic's opponents will surely surround the team until the Eastern Conference Finals start, no doubt about it. I'm going to try to see if there's any validity to that "claim" in the next coming days.

Frenchfried
Frenchfried

I noticed this during game 3 and game 4, and even now reading some of these articles, it seems like the media trend before the next round is going to be to question the Magic because they faced "inferior opponents" and had an easier time than the Cavs or the Celtics, making them exactly the same as the Cavs from last year. The problem with that comparison is that the Cavs swept a Detroit team that had given up halfway through the season and a Hawks team that was riddled with injuries. Not at all similar to sweeping one of the best defensive teams in the league (Bobcats) and a 53-win team that didn't give up until after the Magic made them give up in the first game (Hawks).