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.