ORLANDO–The Hawks opened the East semis by suffering a historic beat down. it was their largest playoffs defeat since the team moved to Atlanta. The Atlanta Hawks lost 111-76 at Philly in ‘82 and the St. Louis Hawks lost 133-75 at Minneapolis in ‘58.
– The Magic’s 43-point victory margin was their second largest in postseason franchise history. Their largest lead of the game was 46; their largest lead during the regular season was 38 in that Jan. 9 game vs. the Hawks. They’ve won their last four home games against the Hawks by an average margin of nearly 32 points.
– Not surprisingly, the Hawks talked afterward about how this is just one game in the series. Yes, they said they can regroup. Yes, they can come up with a plan to beat Orlando.
– “Honestly, it would be harder if we lost by one point on a buzzer beater,” Jamal said. “A game like this, you shake it off and move on.”
– “It’s one loss,” Al said. “We can’t let it be a snowball effect. We have to figure something out and play hard.”
– “We’ll bounce back in Game 2,” J.J. said. “It’s a long series. Anything is possible. We just need to look at the tape and make adjustments.”
– There wasn’t much conviction behind their words. But what else can they say? That they don’t have the depth of personnel to deal with both Dwight and the Magic’s skilled perimeter players? That they can’t run an offense with nearly the same precision, speed and effectiveness as the Magic?
– How can the Hawks really believe they can beat the Magic, especially on this court? They can talk about the missed shots, but what about the way the Magic relentlessly shredded their defense, switches or no switches?
– The Magic privately have to be making plans for the East finals but they went along with the cliches for now. “We understand that it’s only one game and in order for us to win this series we have to dominate every night like we did tonight,” Dwight Howard said
– What’s to say they can’t do that? Certainly not the Hawks’ defense. Or their offense. Or much of anything about the Hawks in Game 1.
– “We don’t get discouraged,” Smoove said. “We are a team that perseveres and plays hard. We just have to play better on the defensive end and make it hard for them to score.”
– That’s true but do the Hawks hope to hold the Magic to 70 points? The 10-point second quarter was something that shouldn’t happen in the playoffs. The Hawks had seven turnovers and four field goals in the period. The Magic rebounded 11 of their 13 misses.
– The Hawks seemed to be clueless about how they wanted to attack the Magic. Shoot, there were times when Iso-Joe looked to be better than anything else the Hawks were trying. “We just have to stick with the plan,” J.J. said. “I thought in the first quarter the plan that we had worked pretty good. In the second quarter we just fell apart and never regrouped.”
– The Hawks were back to their “the shots just didn’t fall” explanations. “We haven’t had many games where Jamal, Joe, and Bibby just couldn’t make shots,” Woody said. “It puts too much pressure on you.”
– It happened just a few days ago, in Game 5 against Milwaukee. The Hawks controlled that game until the meltdown because they played respectable D. They didn’t come close to doing that against the Magic. Then again, the Magic ain’t the Bucks.
– “We have to come up with a different game plan because what we have been doing hasn’t been working,” Al said. “We have to figure something out and play harder.”
– They are back to the “play harder, come up with something” line of thinking, too. That’s never a good sign.
– When Al got his first foul, Woody replaced him with Jason Collins and later replaced Josh with Zaza. “That’s the coach’s plan,” Al said. “He felt Jason and Zaza in would be better. I have to deal with that.”
– “I didn’t think that hurt us,” Woody said. “That was towards the latter part of the first quarter. We came in with Jason and Jason picked up a few fouls, but I didn’t want Al going through the quarter with two fouls and now he’s got to be looking over his shoulder going into the second quarter. I thought we played it right. That had nothing to do with second quarter letdown.”
– The Hawks got frustrated with some of the calls, and there were some bad ones that went against them. But most of those came in the first quarter, when the Hawks actually were in the game. “The calls did not go our way but that’s not an excuse,” Josh said. “The refs are not going to help them beat us by 50 points.”
– Howard had a big game. The Hawks’ “no dunks” approach didn’t work. But the Magic might have won with Marcin Gortat playing Howard’s minutes considering how they punished the Hawks on the perimeter.
– At this point, I just don’t see a way for the Hawks to guard everything they have to guard while also coming up with a plan to score efficiently against the Magic to make this a series. “We’ve beaten them before,” Horford said. “We are the third seed so we knew we were going to have to play them. We put ourselves in this position. We earned this.”
– When you look at what Boston is doing in the Cleveland series, what happened to the Hawks tonight, and how they huffed and puffed against Milwaukee, doesn’t it start to look like they didn’t close that gap so much after all?
– “They embarrassed us but we have have another one on Thursday and we will get ready for that,” Bibby said.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.