Atlanta Hawks: Hawks’ Ballers vs. Magic’s Maulers?

Looked in on the Magic last night trying to gain some insight into what the Hawks might be up against in the next round (too soon?). Watched the Magic beatdown the Bobcats in Game 2 despite Dwight Howard’s foul trouble. Saw them suffocate Charlotte with D. Shoot, I even saw VC attacking the rim.

What’s that all mean for the Hawks? Well, Charlotte is a poor offensive team and the Hawks are a good one, so if the Magic were to hold the Hawks to anything close to 77 points then something is seriously wro . . . Sorry, what’s that you say? The Hawks have had their own problems scoring against the Magic? Oh, then nevermind about that, I guess.

Lots of attention has been paid to how the Hawks would need to figure out a way to slow Howard, control the Magic’s 3-point shooters, or do some reasonable combination of those two. Those are important factors, of course. But what might be more important for the Hawks, since they’ve shown more production and potential on offense than defense, is to figure out a way to score efficiently against Orlando, which the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi opines doesn’t get enough credit for being a bruising defensive team:

Once and for all, isn’t it time everybody stopped portraying the Magic as just a bunch of running, gunning, cunning 3-point shooters? Yes, they made more 3-pointers this year than any team in NBA history, but this team would just as soon lock you down as gun you down. Even offensive-minded players like Vince Carter are spouting Van Gundy’s defense-first mantra.

“If we’re going to be the last team standing, we’re going to do it with our defense,” Carter said.

The Hawks say the same kinds of things, of course, but as I’ve said before they’ve never shown a consistent commitment to dogged defense since I’ve been watching them closely. The Magic are another story, as reflected in the numbers.

Remember, though, the Bobcats are a terrible road team while the Hawks are . . . pretty good? Decent? Unpredictable might the best way to put it, unless you are talking about their late-season proclivity for losing leads in the fourth quarter. The one thing you can say for sure about the Hawks is that overall they are a very good offensive team. With more offensive talent than Charlotte, perhaps the Hawks can do better with figuring out their advantages and exploiting them. Says Magic blogger Ben Q Rock about Bobcats-Magic Game 2:

The Bobcats had, I thought, learned their lesson in Game 1: if they attack the basket and draw fouls, they can hang with Orlando. That simply did not happen tonight, as they helped the Magic’s cause by looking for long jumpers. That’s what it looked like they were doing when they weren’t throwing the ball away or dribbling off their knee, anyway. Just a sloppy, sloppy showing on their part, in the first three quarters, and cost them their chance to really challenge the Magic, whose offense wasn’t that much better due to their own turnover problems, particularly in the fourth period.

It’s been impressive to see the Hawks have work their advantage in the post against Milwaukee, but what happens when Kurt Thomas/Luc Mbah a Moute/Ersan Ilyasova/Dan Gadzuric are replaced by Howard/Martin Gortat/Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson? If Josh and Al continue to make good decisions with the ball against the Magic, and the Hawks move it around the perimeter, will they find much room against a team that ranked 10th in 3-point percentage allowed this season? (Wonder if having the Defensive Player of the Year on the backline makes it easier to sell out on closeouts.)

We shall (likely, probably, possibly) see if the Hawks can score more effectively against the Magic in the postseason than they did in those four regular-season meetings. Are you more confident the Hawks can do that than you are that they can lock in on D against the Magic? After seeing the Hawks for two postseason games, are you starting to feel like they can do both?

Or do you refuse to even acknowledge any feelings about the next series because you are still concerned about this one and really wish I wouldn’t talk about the Magic? If so, my bad.

MC

52 comments Add your comment

central aj

April 22nd, 2010
11:12 am

first & I like looking ahead to the majic, and I dont think we will have any trouble scoring. I’m worried about al and josh staying on the floor after being called for cheap fouls while guarding howard. We all know ZA ZA can’t guard anything with a pulse for more than 2-3 minutes.

Alp Can

April 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

It is time to give Hawks the credit, if we play our game instead of Orlando’s game, we will beat them… Defense wins championships and Hawks can play the defense… It is very clear to see what teams are trying to do against Howard, attack him, put him in faul trouble and they are done… Charlotte is a bad team, their lack of offensive power makes it easier to defend them, they dont have a post game, they are playing Jump shooting game… they cant beat orando with that game…. once you make their feet move, it is easier to score on them… it will be great series, and i think Hawks can get some respect for what they are made of.

Brad in Jasper

April 22nd, 2010
11:17 am

Let’s remember Boston overlooking us two years ago – nearly bit the eventual champs on the butt early. Bucks have two home games coming up. If the Hawks can take one or both – it’s probably done in the Hawks favor. If they even things up in Milwaukee, things could get interesting. Assuming we do meet the Magic and play our best, I still don’t see us getting the best of them in seven. Sorry, I haven’t seen anything yet (even the last second win a few weeks back) to convince me otherwise. Prove me wrong, boys. Beat Orlando and the Cavs will be pushovers! ;)

a1andonly

April 22nd, 2010
11:18 am

Not worried too much. If the Hawks stay focued on offense and tenative on defense (throwing multiple players at Dwight), I think they have a great chance of beating them. Our backcourt has to play well also. But first I wanna see us sweep the Bucks. That will show everyone that the Hawks can win on the road when it counts. Let’s Go Hawks!!!

a1andonly

April 22nd, 2010
11:20 am

What matters is their “confidence level” is up!!! They feel like they can beat anyone. That in itself goes a long way.

phoenix falcon

April 22nd, 2010
11:50 am

they got to get pass the bucks first.

antoine carr's shattered backboard

April 22nd, 2010
11:58 am

watch how the calls go when the lakers or the cavs get in trouble the nba is in need of a Lakers Cavs final and will do anything to make it happen.
I see the hawks winning 1 game maybe 2 against orlando

TigerWoods

April 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

MC, my wise old guru, Hawks do not have a chance against Magic. It is all about matchups.

Hawks Horford will be 100% neutralized from inside vs. Howard, resorting to his outside shooting. Smoove will have the most success of frontline. Magic has no defense for Smoove.

But it comes down to JJ. If you listen to JJ after games against Magic during the year, he says we have to figure this team out, or this team has our number. It is clear why. JJ scores many of his points on slow moves inside taking advantage of his height mismatches. Against this team, who first have long players, and second they have the two time defensive player of the year in a fast moving center, it is pointless. Those inside moves will be batted away as certain as afternoon rain in Florida. That is game, set, match.

Jamal will have more success, assuming Jamal gets out of whatever funk that is hanging over him the first two games. Jamal moves quicker, and assuming his shake and bake is working, he can score well against Magic.

Until Hawks can get a better center, which is at least going to keep Howard’s attention part time, and can rebound on the defensive side, and most of Hawks points do not come from slow developing moves inside, Hawks have no chance. I think Orlando in 5 or Orlando in 6. A sweep by Magic will be disappointing.

ATL fan

April 22nd, 2010
12:09 pm

@ central aj – apparently you didn’t watch Zaza take out KG 2 years ago – or see him man handle O Neil last year. Don’t be ignorant

After watching the Magic last night, ANYONE can beat them. They are very vulnerable.

HawksFan11

April 22nd, 2010
12:15 pm

antoine carr’s shattered backboard

April 22nd, 2010
11:58 am

“watch how the calls go when the lakers or the cavs get in trouble the nba is in need of a Lakers Cavs final and will do anything to make it happen.”

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but i have to cosign here. The league has marketed this match up ever since last year’s all-star break. Trouble is, Orlando didn’t get the memo and they had momentum before the refs could stop them.

Not the story this year though. They have put everyone on notice early, by enacting the LeBron rules, that Cleveland is the chosen team for the finals.

Message: No one is allowed to play defense against this team.

The sad part is that James does not even need this crutch. He is easily the best in the game and has proven that even when he doesn’t get the calls. He simply elevates his game and keeps playing basketball.

This is what the Hawks need from Josh Smith; turn that anger inward, get back and do what you do man.

GO HAWKS!

Greg

April 22nd, 2010
12:19 pm

TigerWoods, you nailed it on the Magic and Hawks matchup. The Magic’s focus and intensity on defense is what’s needed to get a team to the next level. The Magic know what it takes since they went to the finals last year…wouldn’t be surprised to see them beat the Cavs again this year. The Magic will get stops vs the Hawks more consistently than vice versa and their 3 point shooting will burn the Hawks switching defense. Game, set, match. The Hawks might win 1 or 2….I think it’s more likely that they’ll win none than two.

It is premature to even think about that series at this point. The Hawks are definitely not a “pretty good” road team and “decent” is stretching it too. Is 3 games below .500 decent? They won a couple of road games at the end of the year, but lost 6 straight on the road(including some to very mediocre teams) just prior to that. If the Hawks don’t focus for an entire 48 minutes, they’ll blow these two in Milwaukee in the 4th quarter just as they have so many others during the course of this year.

HawksFan11

April 22nd, 2010
12:19 pm

ATL fan, that’s nice but have you seen Zaza THIS YEAR?

Barry

April 22nd, 2010
12:22 pm

Hey, I think the Hawks are going to win this round, but come on…Are you seriously already talking about the 2nd round? There will be plenty of time for that when it comes, especially with 2-3 days between games. How about discussing how the Hawks can more effectively use their bench in this series, get Teague untracked, more effectively use Joe Smith? They are going to need some bench play if they are going to meet their goals and advance at least to the conference finals. And I’m not just talking about Jamaal, Zaza, and Mo. Teague could supply some speed and Joe Smith will absolutely have to provide some solid rebounding and defense (and a supply of 6 fouls) to bang with Howard or Shaq (if they make it to the conference finals). Let’s talk about that stuff, not already putting the eggs in the basket.

Greg

April 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

Woodson hasn’t effectively used the bench all year so why would you expect him to do it now? Coaching advantage goes to the opposition no matter who we play. The Hawks don’t know how to close anybody out and any close game should make a Hawks fan nervous considering who is leading them on the sideline.

central aj

April 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

@ atl fan.
I wish i could say that today’s version of zaza is the same one that guarded kg two years ago. he’s not. he barely plays and when he does, I cant wait until we can get the starters back on the floor so we can stop giving up fast break point and turnovers, curtosy of zaza.

Joey

April 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Does anyone really think Woody will have new wrinkles for the Magic, who beat us 3 out of 4 in the reg season? I hope he surprises us, but if not, the Magic will win the series in 5 or 6 games.

central aj

April 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Barry I agree that we should be discussing how to use our bench more effictively, but greg is right, “Woodson hasn’t effectively used the bench all year so why would you expect him to do it now? ”
Our bench is good as long as Jamal and Evans are on it. Once those two get the minutes, the bench becomes very mediocre at best.

darrell starks

April 22nd, 2010
12:36 pm

The only way i see the hawks beating magic woody have 2 go big specially in the 4th, i like this combo.
JAMAL, JOE, JOSH, HORFORD, ZAZA.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!

Joey

April 22nd, 2010
12:43 pm

hawksfan11: “The sad part is that James does not even need this crutch. He is easily the best in the game and has proven that even when he doesn’t get the calls.”

When has LBJ ever NOT gotten calls? I’d like to see the replay of that one play in 5 years . . .

darrell starks

April 22nd, 2010
12:43 pm

Collins could play a big role against magic 2.
GO HAKWS!!!!!!!!!!!

Section 303

April 22nd, 2010
12:53 pm

Is it just me or is the Magic/Bobcat series not the most boring series of them all to watch? I love NBA hoops, but that series is just dull. Just hope the Bobcats can win a couple of games and prolong round one for the Magic.

Greg, now Woodson did not manage the bench the right way? What exactly would you have done differently? Bring in Salim Stoudimire? Just stop with this stuff. Whatever Coach Woodson did, I would say it’s working. 53-wins and a 2-0 lead in the first round series. I know a few teams who would love to be in that position.

bigdave

April 22nd, 2010
1:09 pm

good read MC… nothing wrong with foreshadowing..

Mike is Back

April 22nd, 2010
1:13 pm

MC, Yeah I think its too soon. I have the up most confidence that the Hawks will win this series…but no team ever won a seven game series with two wins…and to add to that this is a young team that starting to come into its own…this is uncharted waters for the coaches and the players. I think game three will be a better precursor to the outcome of the series…than games one and two. We know the Hawks can dominate at home…now its time to see if they cured, their ills own the road.

However, Steve Smith is one of my favorite and I respect his opinion…so if he says a sweep…that’s GREAT!! He was here from the start…he is probably just proud…more than any thing of the maturation of this team, and he is coming out and giving his stamp of approval. I personally would like to see game three before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

Mike Woodson

April 22nd, 2010
1:14 pm

Thanks for the support, Hawks fans!

In this personal message to the AJC, I would like to campaign for a contract extension. We are a YOUNG ATHLETIC team with TREMENDOUS UPSIDE and have improved our record EVERY year since I took over as head coach.

Joe Johnson is an elite player — as good as, if not better, than Kobe, Wade, and LeBron.
Horford is an absolute beast on the boards.

In addition, we BEAT the Lakers (NBA Champions) this year — we are clearly one of the best teams in the league.

I have always let my offense take care of itself — I am a defensive coach. This is why I really vouched for us getting Mike Bibby. He is clearly still tremendously athletic, an incredible 3 point shooter, and a superstar defender.

Let’s Get ‘Em!

Also, don’t expect RandMo or J.Collins to play. These guys are big bodies but they are not LONG and ATHLETIC so they do not fill the bill!

Westurd

April 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

We haven’t even played on road game in the playoff yet………
Orlando? Shhhhhhhhhh, let get past the Bucks please. Dang Hawks fans,
have you not been watching the Hawks for the past few years? If you have you wouldn’t even be mentioning Orlando yet? Lots of basketball to play before round two starts.

O'Brien

April 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

I don’t mind looking ahead, because I don’t think the Bucks or Bobcats can win 4 out of 5 games against the Hawks and Magic.

@ TigerWoods

“Jamal will have more success, assuming Jamal gets out of whatever funk that is hanging over him the first two games. Jamal moves quicker, and assuming his shake and bake is working, he can score well against Magic”.

In theory, yes. But the numbers tell a different story. In 4 games against the Magic this year, Crawford went 4-13, 4-14, 6-17, and 4-14, which is a combined 31% FG average. So those numbers don’t give me any confidence when it comes to Crawford against the Magic.

In fact, in 4 games, the Hawks averaged 82.25 points against the Magic, while shooting 40%. But hey, we are #4 in offense, so I’m sure the offense will be fine…

I think it will come down to JJ and Al. Al will need to knock down his mid-range jumpers consistently (hopefully draw Howard out, which might open up the lane a little bit), and JJ is going to have to be Batman. It would be great if we can get Howard in foul trouble too.

JeJe

April 22nd, 2010
1:17 pm

JOE WILL CHOKE IN ALL THE 2ND ROUND GAMES AND THEN CLAIM “WE DIDN’T SHOW UP TO PLAY” RATHER THAN “I DIDN’T SHOW UP TO PLAY”

FIRE WOODY

D ole Hoops Coach

April 22nd, 2010
1:20 pm

There is an old saying that a Playoff series doesn’t begin until someone wins one on the road. It is too early to be thinking Magic.

But……I have to say to TigerWoods, too bad you have been too busy playing golf (or with other activities) to watch the Hawks play. If you had, you would understand that Horford is not just a post up player. He now has the ability to consistently knock down the J from 12 to 18 feet. This changes the Hawks ability to attack the Magic offensively in a huge way. Instead of leaving Howard under the basket as the last line of defense without regard to Horford as they were able to do in the past, they will now have to choose their poison. They can leave Howard under the basket to have the Hawks set up Howard at either elbow or they can take Howard outside with Horford and open up the lane for Smoove, JJ, Crawford and anyone else who can attack the basket. This will make the series competitive.

That said, the Bucks are still the business at hand.

Khao$

April 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Stay focused on the Bucks. These Hawks haven’t earned the right to look past anyone…

victor

April 22nd, 2010
1:28 pm

I see the Hawks competing very well on offense and defense against the Magic. I believe they will take the ball right at Dwight Howard and being more successful doing so because they are more talented inside than charlotte because we have Josh Smith and Al Horford who play well of each other. I also believe Mike Bibby will surprise nay sayers with his ability to get into the lane and play pick and roll/ pick and pop with Al Horford as he did in the first game against the Bucks. Al has gotten better at hitting that shot 15ft away from the basket. Defensively I believe they have their wake up call, and will play much like thay did in the beginning of the season being one of a few undefeated teams to start the season keeping opponents between 80-90 points a game while scoring 100+ themselves.

Steve

April 22nd, 2010
1:59 pm

Its safe to look ahead, but look ahead at the fact we have beaten Orlando ONE time in the last 8 or so games. The ONE time was on a out of this world buzzer beater. I think we will be be in the series, but it is a reach to say we can beat them in a 7 game series when we haven’t proven that at all over the last two seasons.

Mike is Back

April 22nd, 2010
2:11 pm

MC, as for the Magic…Yeah if we come with a strategy similar to the one we deployed when we beat them at Phillips, we can definitely beat the Magic in a seven game series. The difference in that game is we were giving DHoward different looks. The Hawks did a great job of mixing things up. I also agree with other blogger’s sentiments on going Big…we will have to lean on our reserve Bigs more…that way we can play DHoward straight up…and not allow open looks from three. If we contain the threes…we can keep close and have a change to win it that the end.

I think we will need Teague in this series as well. JNelson is back to All-Start caliber form…Teague is the only one with enough quickness to stay in front of him. Hopefully, by than all the butterflies will be gone. lol

Dang MC, now you got me looking forward to Hawks/Magic. THIS TIME…It will be the Hawks coming out party. Then we would get a shot at knocking off LBJ…and that would really piss Stern off. lol

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BravesFan79

April 22nd, 2010
2:19 pm

Yo Cunningham: Great breakdown of the 2nd round series to come. And no its not to early to say both teams will meet next round.

David

April 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

I know it looks as though The Hawks and Magic will play in round 1.But stranger things have happened.I don’t look ahead.Lets beat the Bucks first.Then we will see where we are.If We do meet in game 2.Both teams can win the series.But now,It’s The Bucks and that’s all it should be on.Loose focus on the Bucks.And there won’t be a round 2.

David

April 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

oops i meant round 2.

BravesFan79

April 22nd, 2010
2:28 pm

To all you Queen James lovers out there…. L James is NOT the best player in the league!! I watched a game a few weeks ago in which queen james clanked 3 or 4 critical free throws at the end, then instead of passing for a easy game tying layup, he takes a running 3…. and surprise surprise… CLANK!! Its what Queen James is best at, missing critical free throws and clanking 3’s! And yall wanna crown him the best ever… HAHA When did yall start watching Basketball… in 2005?

i_am_soulstar

April 22nd, 2010
2:55 pm

I for one, refuse to even think about the 2nd round until the 1st round is done. We’re 2-0 in the first round, and I’m enjoying it and proud of my squad. That’s that.

hawfan2

April 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

Yea Al will be neutralized by Dwight and Josh won’t have a 6′5″ player guarding him against Orlando. I guess its back to ISO-Joe & ISO-Jamal.

Section 303

April 22nd, 2010
3:23 pm

Guys, really, does it matter if any of us are thinking about the 2nd round? H#ll, for that matter, does it matter if any of us are thinking about the NBA Finals? I don’t think any of us are Hawks players. Right? So, think about what ever round of the playoffs you want. One of the perks of being a fan.

cp

April 22nd, 2010
3:26 pm

drmaryb from the last blog, please tell me you didn’t think the Sixers should have beat that Lakers team in the finals? That team was pretty much Iverson and a bunch of stiffs. They were not going to beat a Shaq in his prime and a young Kobe.

northcyde

April 22nd, 2010
3:44 pm

LOL . . . you guys know better than this. There is NO WAY anybody should be looking ahead to the next series right now. Hopefully, none of our players read this blog, thinking this series is over.

Win Game 3 . . .then talk about the Magic.

So I guess this sets the stage to everybody flipping out, if we happen to lose on Saturday.

Swatguy

April 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

This is a perfect warmup for the Orlando series. Providing the Hawks close it out in 4 games. Orlando will want to do the same, but going to Charlotte is a lot more difficult than going to Milwaukee. I expect more bruises toward the Magic than the Hawks and perhaps longer than 4 games. I se Charlotte taking game 3 in a very very physical game and a big challenge in game 5. So it is for the Hawks to close the series in four, avoid injury and continue to increase their esteem.
I believe the Hawks will have to take Dwight out of the game and then concentrate on the perimeter. That does mean attacking the paint frequantly.

JSS

April 22nd, 2010
3:57 pm

Any Hawks player or fan that looks ahead to another series before the ledger reads Atlanta 4 victories needs to be flogged in public!

Gwinnett Fred

April 22nd, 2010
4:22 pm

Hell yes it’s too early – with 4 days between games, even if we sweep the possible Magic matchup won’t happen till next month!

Gwinnett Fred

April 22nd, 2010
4:30 pm

Start the clock at 8pm Saturday, April 17.

4/17 8pm – Boston-Miami game 1
4/20 – Boston-Miami game 2; Atlanta-Milwaukee game 2
4/22 – Boston-Miami game 3

What goes on? Bos/Mia plays 3 games in the span Atl/Mil play ONCE???

Mel

April 22nd, 2010
4:54 pm

@Gwinnett Fred

I was wondering the same thing.. why is there a four day span between game 2 and 3??

The Magic-Bobcats series is painful to watch.. Larry Brown does adjust, his players just can’t execute. They seemed to turn it over at every critical junction.

If/When we play ORL Joe needs to just go and not wait for the defense to double/trap him..

northcyde

April 22nd, 2010
5:04 pm

Fred . . . that’s because they’re making sure the BOS – MIA series stays on TNT or ESPN.

MEANWHILE . . they’ll keep us on NBA TV

Jason

April 22nd, 2010
5:48 pm

Go Hawks. Big Z can frustrate D Howard. Rember KG in the Boston series a couple years ago. A few Techs D Howard is out and the Hawks win in 7.

Cali girl

April 22nd, 2010
8:26 pm

this schedule is horrific!! i thought it be every other night not three to four nights gosh!! and the hawks have the absolute worst game span its like they have five days off but only three then plus we always on nba tv not tnt or espn and TNT is here in atlanta

drmaryb

April 24th, 2010
5:58 pm

CP

I know man, but that’s my point right there! Man Shaq & Kobe? Whether they fought each other like dogs or not – Nobody was going to beat that team!

But, here was my point: Larry Brown (an ELITE coach), still can’t WIN without great players.
So why do so many Woodson nay-sayers feel that he should be able to pull off something like that either?

We are only going to go as far as our talent will take us. So, if we play smart & hard – I can live with any outcome!

Now – That’s Keepin’ it Real!