Sneak Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5 | Magic Basketball

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Apr 26

Sneak Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5

AP Photo/John Bazemore

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “At some point Jamal Crawford has to cool off, right? The Atlanta Hawks shooting guard has torched the Orlando Magic in the first four games of this playoff series, averaging 24 points and shooting 56.5 percent from three-point range. In a series defined by ugly offense and hard-nosed defense, Crawford’s finesse and efficiency shooting the basketball have stood out. And the frustrating part for the Magic is they’re keeping a defender nearby and in his face — he’s just connecting on the jumpers, anyway. […] Crawford’s remarkable consistency — he’s scored 25, 23, 25 and 23 points in the four games — has carried the Hawks. The Magic assumed the law of averages might help limit Crawford, but that hasn’t worked. His shooting percentage (47.1 in the playoffs compared to 42.1 in the regular season), three-point percentage (56.5 to 34.1) and points per game (24 to 14.2) are far above his usual performance. He’s not going to just start missing on his own, as the Magic may have hoped. So on Monday at practice, the Magic focused on stopping Crawford (and Joe Johnson, who’s averaging 20 points per game this series).”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The doors to Amway Center’s practice court opened around 3:45 Monday afternoon, and visitors looking to interview coach Stan Van Gundy witnessed something that’s been absent this postseason. Orlando Magic players made shots. Lots of them. Ryan Anderson, Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick and, later, Brandon Bass attempted shot after shot after shot — and made most of them. Staccato bursts of the sport’s prettiest sound filled the air. Basketballs fell through hoops and touched only the nets. Swish! Swish! Swish! The Magic need to duplicate that success when they host the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5 of their playoff series. Trailing three games to one, Orlando must win to avoid elimination. […] In Sunday’s Game 4 loss, the Magic went 2-for-23 from 3-point range. Van Gundy and his assistant coaches analyzed those attempts, and they found that if they excluded tries that came at the end of a quarter or just as the shotclock expired or were simply bad shots, the Magic went 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. Of those 15, eight were wide-open. The Magic made just one of those eight wide-open attempts.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “About seven months ago, the Magic were star tenants in the spectacularly giddy grand opening of Amway Center. They certainly don’t want their season to close at their hoops palace Tuesday night with a final, farewell performance. Trailing the Atlanta Hawks three games to one in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series, the Magic look to avoid curtain-closing elimination. This could either be the start of an historic run for the Magic or the stunning end to a disappointing season, with repercussions possibly resonating through the summer. The futures of coach Stan Van Gundy, General Manager Otis Smith and superstar Dwight Howard could be affected. An early ouster obviously wouldn’t sit well with Howard, a five-time all star who can leave the Magic after next season as a free agent. He has had to carry the club this postseason, desperate for help from his lackluster supporting cast. Smith’s reputation as a front-office executive who built a contender has taken a hit. His two blockbuster trades in mid-December dramatically changed the team, but not necessarily for the better, and improving the already expensive roster will be difficult. And Van Gundy will be under scrutiny if the Magic are dispatched in the opening round. They tumbled to a 52-30 record this season after back-to-back 59-win seasons under the fiery coach. He has seen his offense, which relies heavily on the 3-point shot, fizzle against the Hawks.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was his usual load and vocal self after Sunday night’s Game 4 to the Atlanta Hawks as he searched for positives to encourage his frustrated basketball team. The gist of message was this: Nothing about the Magic’s plight – other than being in a must-win situation – has changed despite being in a 3-1 hole. The Magic still hope to protect their homecourt against the Hawks in Tuesday’s Game 5 at Amway Center. If they can force a Game 6 on Thursday, they still have to find a way to win in Atlanta, something that has been a reality since losing Game 1 in Orlando last week. And to do both of those things they still must figure how to get some sort of offensive flow going in a series where points and made shots have been tough to come by. And, oh yeah, the fourth-seeded Magic have to do it right away come Tuesday night or a season filled with so much promise could be over at the hands of the fifth-seeded Hawks.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Now that his sizzling scoring has helped put the Hawks on the verge of advancing past the Magic into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the praise is flowing for Jamal Crawford. But Crawford remembers the tags critics not so long ago used to hang on him. He was a scorer but needed a lot of shots to get his points. He put up big numbers but he did so while playing for bad teams. His one-on-one style was good for highlights, bad for winning. […] Most of those criticisms fell by the wayside last season, when Crawford joined the Hawks via trade and had the most efficient scoring season of his career. Atlanta won 53 games and Crawford was voted the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. He further bolstered his credentials last spring when he was Atlanta’s most consistent scorer in his first postseason appearance. That hardly gained notice, though, because the Hawks wheezed past Milwaukee in the first round before getting summarily swept by Orlando. Now Crawford is doing it again and more people are taking notice, especially Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.”
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