Magic at Atlanta Hawks: Meaning and matchups

The Hawks sure do sound confident about playing the Magic. Not that I thought they’d say they are worried or anything but a more measured tone might be expected after last spring’s beat down, the extenuating circumstances surrounding the three previous meetings this season and Atlanta’s issues since the All-Star break.

It’s that last part that had Smoove playing down what tonight’s game might mean for the likely rematch in the playoffs.

“The playoffs and regular season are completely different,” he said. “We just want to play consistently right now.”

L.D. and J.J., meanwhile, obliged media types looking for that playoffs angle.

Joe: “We’ve played them pretty well during the regular season. Obviously the playoffs are a lot different but
we know we can play this team.”

Drew: “I think it’s definitely a carryover. We want to approach this game like it has true meaning, which it does. Win, lose or draw we have to come out and establish ourselves and compete and play hard. The last thing you want to do in a game like this is not play with an aggressive instinct. The way we gave played in the month of March we don’t have any room for that. We have to come out and we have to be the aggressor from start to finish. ”

Al’s view falls somewhere in between: “I think it will be a good test for us. I don’t think that determines everything but we have to come with that [playoffs] mentality.”

This is all just talk, of course. The Hawks generally executed a sound plan against the Nets and Cavs which, while certainly better than the alternative, did little to answer questions about this team’s ability to do so when there is more resistance.

So the talk about the Magic must be backed up with action, though I’m sure my blog people welcome such talk if it increases the chances that the Hawks will be ready for this.

“I think we got embarrassed so bad in the postseason last year when we play this team we know what to expect and I think we tend to play a little harder,” J.J. said.

Game Notes

  • L.D. is using the Hinrich, J.J., Josh, Al, Twin lineup. Jameer will play for the Magic.
  • L.D. and Hawks players all seem to agree that the big lineup has made the difference vs. the Magic: “I think big Jason Collins has done an unbelievable job on them each time we have played,” Joe said, adding that he was a little unsure about the alignment at first. “I didn’t know how it would work but it has really played into our hands.”
  • Al on Atlanta’s increased confidence vs. Orlando: “It’s all about match ups. I feel the time we have played them our bigger guys like Zaza and Jason have done a good job on Dwight. He’s obviously having an MVP-type season but we have been able to play better with a bigger lineup.”
  • Josh on one benefit of the big lineup: “Defensively it helps a lot because with Dwight setting those mean picks, I can guard him fairly well. I mean, not as well as big men, but probably better than most threes when make the switch.”
  • Drew on the plan: “Obviously with Dwight, he’s a load. You have to really be refined on what you are doing against him. This team is a really good 3-point shooting team. Our game plan going in it won’t change from the first three times we played them. We have to do a good job with Dwight [and] we have to do a good job defending the 3-point line.”
  • Drew on the post-trade Magic: “They’ve gotten some rhythm. The guys they’ve gotten in the trade have certainly gotten acclimated to what they do. That was just going to be a matter of time. We knew that. Turkoglu can cause a lot of problems with his size and ability to handle the basketball and make plays. Arenas is very capable. Richardson seems to be playing at a high level. They are a tough ball club. They have got weapons all over the floor. We can’t let Dwight go crazy and at the same time we have to do a good job defending that 3-point line.”
  • Orlando media types tell me Arenas has lost much of his explosiveness in addition to struggling with his shot. So much for rejuvenation: Arenas’ player efficiency rating, offensive win shares and field-goal percentages, already at or near career lows with Washington this season, have declined even further with the Magic. Sounds like a job for Teague.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

466 comments Add your comment

Rev in Tampa

March 30th, 2011
3:07 pm

ant banks

March 30th, 2011
3:08 pm

dammint tampa

ant banks

March 30th, 2011
3:09 pm

congrats bruh, no hatin’ here. lol

Rev in Tampa

March 30th, 2011
3:16 pm

MC,

Thanks that last little goad for Drew to use Teague. It makes no sense from what I have obseved Teague do in games where he played with the starters to leave him to languish on the bench. It begins to seem like a personal vendetta.

Does Drew ever interact with you over things you have written or read on the blogs?

Ryan

March 30th, 2011
3:17 pm

Who is Teague? Smh

Rufus1

March 30th, 2011
3:20 pm

Every game matters…

The Magic swept the Cavs in the regular season 2 years ago and beat them in the playoffs.

The Magic demolished the Hawks in 3 of 4 games last regular season= Playoff beatdown.

THIS IS THE 4TH GAME, IN A BEST OF 11 SERIES!!!…Don’t try to sell this game short.

GO HAWKS!!!!

Michael Cunningham

March 30th, 2011
3:23 pm

@ Rev in Tampa: “Does Drew ever interact with you over things you have written or read on the blogs?”

nope. it’s been my experience that most coaches/players/GMs don’t read much of what’s written about the team or at the very least don’t let reporters know that they do. that’s probably a good strategy in the long run. it can’t be easy to have your job performance critiqued on a daily basis. they make a lot of money but they are still human.

Kenny C

March 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

I like the big line up, it has proven to do pretty well this year. I actually like any line up other than the Kirk/JJ/Marvin/Josh/Horford one. That line up seems to get smashed almost every time.

aytunstopable

March 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

you know what i want them to win and by some miracle if they beat them in the playoffs I will say hawks for the title lol.

In all seriousness I mhope they come out on fire. Also glad they aren’t playing the meaning of this game down… well atleast drew and joe aren’t. Normally they play it down and don’t show up so maybe by them not playing it down they will show up.

I said earlier in the year that the Hawks are better than the magic pre trade and post trade. and If atl hadnt been in this slump I’d still say it even now. All in all though if they just follow up like the heat. The heat beat a couple of bad teams then beat a good one and got on a major roll. hopefully the hawks will do the same after beating the Nets, and Cavs.

Geemack

March 30th, 2011
3:34 pm

Michael Cunningham

It’s sad when the most interesting thing about a team is their beat writers column.

Keep up the good work.

brigadierjerry

March 30th, 2011
3:42 pm

northclyde,

Yes Lenny was a very good coach for the Hawks.Hated the Manning trade. Manning was always hurt and underachieved that is why when Nique came back he killed Manning.What did you think of Mike Fratello as coach?

When you think about it with the right coach there isnt any reason why the Hawks ceiling cant be what the Mavericks are. The Hawks are equal to the sum of their parts. I would love to see Josh Smith play the same way Zach Randolph plays with the boards but the problem is and I think will have to be addressed is that Smith and Horford play the same position and it is my belief that one of them will have to be moved for the Hawks to get further

atlienforlife

March 30th, 2011
3:43 pm

This is a game tailor-made for teague to play. Sadly, I predict another dnp-cd.

Michael Cunningham

March 30th, 2011
3:45 pm

@Geemack: ha . . . . thanks, appreciate it.

2 for JOHN DREW

March 30th, 2011
3:51 pm

MC
I’m vacationing in Miami … And my BB buddies are asking me ” Why y’all don’t play Teague “?
It’s a shame b/c all I can honestly tell them (in my best scooby-doo tone) ….. ummm know !!!!!

Mike is back

March 30th, 2011
3:51 pm

What’s up MC, I thanked You, KS, and Big Ray on Big Ray’s blog…and I want to thank you personally easing pain of a tumultuous season…I don’t think I would still be engaged this season…if it wasn’t for you guys.
I have always been curious why JJ was such a cerebral quite guy…when he opens his mouth…you start to understand…dude rarely has anything substantive to say.

JJ and LD must know something about Orlando we don’t…Anyway…I don’t see Vangundy and Dwight losing a lot of sleep…if they have face LD and the Hawks…instead of Collins and Philly…But heck…what do I know.

Michael Cunningham

March 30th, 2011
3:55 pm

@Mike is back: thanks . . . J.J. surprises me sometimes. for example, he was the one guy downplaying the hot start to the season because of the competition and he’s seemed most affected by the recent slide. i didn’t expect either reaction from him.

Michael Cunningham

March 30th, 2011
3:56 pm

@ 2 for JOHN DREW: “MC I’m vacationing in Miami”

stop by Ted’s Hideaway and tell Potsie Mike C sent you . . .

JohnGTFan

March 30th, 2011
4:02 pm

You know what I expect from JJ…a good ball game….how about 20+ points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds. Pretty modest numbers, but compared to what he usually does against better competition, I’d take it! Oh, and this from a a guy making max money. Please someone buy this team. But season will be over soon and Braves season starts tomorrow!!!!!

JohnGTFan

March 30th, 2011
4:03 pm

of course he’s going to go 6 – 20 from the field, score 15 points, and sit out most of the 4th quarter…Orlando by 21. Hawks are just maddening.

JohnGTFan

March 30th, 2011
4:10 pm

I would love this lineup for tonight:

PG TEAGUE
SG WILLIAMS
SF SMITH
PF HORFORD
C COLLINS

Bench:
ZAZA
HINRICH
JAMAL
ETC
ETC

DNP – COACH DECISION: JOE JOHNSON!!!

LD would get my respect for that move! I’d love to see it. But, won’t happen.

Big Daddy

March 30th, 2011
4:16 pm

Dwight cannot beat the Hawks by himself no matter how many points he scores. With him being a lousy free throw shooter, we have a lot of fouls to give looking down the bench as long as they don’t use them all up right away. If the guys play their man tight and we double down everytime Dwight gets the ball we can force him to pass. If we do that we stand a chance. If they don’t, it will probably be another beat down. Make THEM a jump shooting team.

By the way, on the stream that I was following the Hawks v Cavs game, the announcers wondered out loud why LD doesn’t play Teague more. How is it everyone see that but the coach?

Ramon

March 30th, 2011
4:24 pm

MC, is there any chance you could ask JJ if he feels as if he’s lived upto his contract this season with his play? What is his view on his play, and does he still THINK he’s one of the elite?

newkid

March 30th, 2011
4:25 pm

Hint to Sund: Here’s how you build a team around D12 (if you’re fortunate enough to be around in future). “Obviously with Dwight, he’s a load. You have to really be refined on what you are doing against him. THIS TEAM IS A REALLY GOOD 3-POINT SHOOTING TEAM.” my emphasis added to the last sentence.

Your mission Mr. Sund, is to turn over all rocks to find the absolute best pure shooters available with your #36 pick in the upcoming draft (as well as with your 50th or 51st pick); cats who can be extremely effective in spreading the floor from range; cats like the kid Otis Smith picked up from the Nets in the Vince Carter trade; cats with the sort of potential represented by the kid you just traded to the Bullets.

It’s called taking the long view Mr. Sund, then acting – sooner rather than later – on that view. You’ve heard of that philosophy, haven’t you Mr. Sund?

Ramon

March 30th, 2011
4:25 pm

This is crazy, I can’t post on the site from my home pc anymore now that I’ve moved to Smyrna, but I can post from Bestbuy? Crazy. Every since I moved to Atlanta I’ve been unable to post any comments on the board.

terrell

March 30th, 2011
4:26 pm

“This is just all talk of course”. Exactly!

big o

March 30th, 2011
4:55 pm

Someone Anyone….. BRING DEWIGHT HOWARD HOME !!!!! number 1 pick for 3 years should do it. The Hawks win title if DH is on team next year Bring him home he will come

2 for JOHN DREW

March 30th, 2011
5:14 pm

THANKS MC,
One of my boys told me, the drinks are great but stay away from the eats!
I’ll see for myself. I glad ur name’s not Richie (as in Cunningham)w/ur boy Potsie and all, I would have been lookin’ for the FONZ ….. WTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I MUS WRITE

March 30th, 2011
5:36 pm

Big O….We can only dream- Dwight /Al Horford back court would be the best in the League. I dont know if we can afford dwight next summer with JJ;s contract hanging over our heads.

Trade for dwight next year before the Trade deadline – JJ,Smoove,Teague-2 1st round picks ofr what ever it takes -keep horford

drmaryb (*_-)

March 30th, 2011
5:39 pm

North-Cyyyde!

And to add to that stellar post, Mr. Johnson picked The Hawks – The Hawks did not pick him! How flattering was that to an 11 win team coached by
Lon “Freddie” Kreuger and Terry Stotts?

Then Eric Daimpeer and Kenyon Martin only came to be recruited by
The original Afro – Billy Knight. They only came for the steak dinner at Bones and to see the girls at “Magic City”. We were spurned by B-Level FA’s.

Joe came here to build his own team and be the man! We haven’t had anything close to getting that Super-Star! We just are not that attractive as an organization. We don’t need a team filled with B-Level talent, we need a block buster player now, a HOFer player now.

Maybe we can get Dwight under a new owner? If he would come, I honestly believe ASKG would go into the Luxury Tax to keep the main core. It’s our only hope now.
____________________

BrigadierJerry!

I posted my choice for coach on page 2 of the last blog, with great detail as to my rationale. I chose Jeff Van Gundy over Mike Fratello.

Like northcyde, I also like Lenny Wilkens too. Our defense was absolutely lights out! We harassed the hell out of MJ and Scottie with:

Mookie
Steve Smith
Stacy Augmon
Grant Long
Dikembe Mutumbo

Lenny turned Grant Long and Steve Smith into defensive stalwarts with his schemes, something those two were not known for.
The unforgivable was trading Nique. Also, Lenny won his 1000th game as a head coach in Atlanta. I was there the only time we fans ever saw confetti rain from the rafters! Those were the days.

JSS

March 30th, 2011
5:42 pm

You all have to admit, the old Woody-vs-Jeff Schultz battle was mighty fine entertainment!

JSS

March 30th, 2011
5:47 pm

drmaryb (*_-)
March 30th, 2011
5:39 pm
“They only came for the steak dinner at Bones and to see the girls at “Magic City”. We were spurned by B-Level FA’s.”

Somebody call Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the Way Back is stuck again on the Hawks! Somethings never change!

Rod from College Park

March 30th, 2011
5:53 pm

Ramon,

Same thing here. I still can’t post from home. Don’t understand it.

To all you Bring Dwight Home people. He a’int coming if Josh Smith is not here. Hope you guys are willing to get rid of Horford.

drmaryb (*_-)

March 30th, 2011
5:54 pm

MC

Great blogs all week long! Thanks man, I’m glad you’re back, I thought I was gonna have to come down to the practice facility with my portable table and hook you up with some chiropractic treatments!

I’m glad you’re ok. I was thinking you were under the weather?
I knew you had some shoulder injuries when you were out West on that 13 game road trip. So, glad you’re fine.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 30th, 2011
6:02 pm

From the previous blog…

“On this team, even a mediocre playing JJ takes pressure off of the other guys. Not because JJ is that good, but because teams gameplan to stop JJ like he’s that good. ”

There is no law that states that a successful offense has to have someone who can command a double team. As the Nuggets are showing, a guy who draws a double team but can’t consistently use the opportunity to quickly get the ball to the open guy doesn’t necessarily have a positive effect on the offense as a whole.

There was a point when Joe was productive enough that teams threw an extra defender at him because a single defender couldn’t consistently stop him. But at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets doubled solely because teams see on tape how slow he is to react to the extra defender and realize they can shut down the Hawks offense entirely by doing so. In other words, it’s not the threat of him taking over a game but rather his inability to handle it that draws the double team in the first place.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 30th, 2011
6:06 pm

“So the talk about the Magic must be backed up with action, though I’m sure my blog people welcome such talk if it increases the chances that the Hawks will be ready for this.”

At this point I think we are all pretty tired of talk, since most of the talk from this team hasn’t been backed up with action in a long time.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 30th, 2011
6:09 pm

The last time I was at a regular season Hawks/Magic game, Smoove won it with a putback dunk at the buzzer. The last time I was at a Hawks/Magic game of any kind, I lost my voice by halftime yelling “Fire Woodson”. Let’s hope tonight my experience at Philips is more like the first and less like the second.

J from the A

March 30th, 2011
6:10 pm

Rod from College Park

March 30th, 2011
5:53 pm

“Ramon,

Same thing here. I still can’t post from home. Don’t understand it.

To all you Bring Dwight Home people. He a’int coming if Josh Smith is not here. Hope you guys are willing to get rid of Horford.”

I think this is right. I also think Orlando will be looking for a starting-quality center in any trade involving Dwight. Al AND (Marvin or Zaza) for Dwight? The money works out. The other option would be offering JJ and some picks for Dwight. Money works out here, too, but I doubt the Magic bite on that one (although the Magic might also be in need of a starting-quality 2-guard next year).

I don’t know about the rest of the blog folk, but even though I would hate to see Al go, I would definitely trade him if it meant bringing home Dwight. The only problem post-Al-for-Dwight trade is that the little bit of depth the Hawks had would absolutely be killed, and there would be no cap space to pay for any additional really good role players.

Damn Teague

March 30th, 2011
6:12 pm

As a Hawks fan you go into every game hoping that this will be the game that it “Clicks” for this team. That Josh Smith realizes that the 3-point shot is not his most dangerous move, that JJ doesn’t struggle with double teams, Marvin Williams plays like his is 6′9″ & plays aggressive, that Al Horford demands to be more integral in the offense, Teague doesn’t spend majority of his time sitting in basically glorified floor seats with another DNP-CD, but most importantly of them all that this team gives 48 minutes of just consistent effort on both ends of the floor. Sometimes the Hawks can tease you and do some or all of these things for stretches, quarters, whole games even (against lesser competition) Only to revert back to the same bad habits that caused them to be historically swept last year. This year as I watch the games I found myself less interested in the final score as much as I used to be, but instead focusing on whether this team is forming winning habits, playing hard, playing like they actually care out there.

I know that it is unrealistic to believe that this will be the game where this coaching staff and players all “figure it out” but as a fan I can HOPE…….. right?

I feel a W tonight! Go Hawks!

Najeh Davenpoop

March 30th, 2011
6:17 pm

“If the guys play their man tight and we double down everytime Dwight gets the ball we can force him to pass. If we do that we stand a chance.”

If anything this is exactly the opposite of what has worked. Single cover Dwight, make him score, let him get his, and stick to the perimeter supporting players like glue. That’s what worked against them last March, that’s what has worked this season, and that’s what will work tonight.

And it wouldn’t hurt to take the ball at him strong and get him into foul trouble, although we all know that’s not going to happen with this team.

The Game Has Changed

March 30th, 2011
6:18 pm

What made me mad if last year they hardly played Collins. Come playoff time, the first time they put him in he did well. Once he picked up his 3rd foul in the first half they took him out. Im saying to myself leave him in. If he is the only one that can stop him leave him in you havent played him all season. As soon as they took him out we got blown out.

vava74

March 30th, 2011
6:27 pm

Howard is headed to LA.

Stop that nonsense.

On the different note, read again and register what MC said about JJ.

Criticise him for not reacting well on court to adversity/frustration but record MC’s words anyhow.

The guy cares.

W.R.Terrell

March 30th, 2011
7:02 pm

I get the feeling that the “SOFT’S” are expected to throw a BEATDOWN on Orlando. That means you expect the “smoove” to play within his strengths…..ohhhhhh k, and that ISO Joe won’t POUND…..POUND….POUND. Hmmmmm….Has anybody thought that the Magic wants to deliver a message also. I would like a win and what happens if we win? Glory for a couple of days. I want wins for the remainder of the regular season, not just one game. We deserve that suffering thru what we have witnessed so far. If the “smoove” launches and ISO pounds then the usual will happen, another blistering defeat. I am going to the t.v. now because I wanna yell and scream and see a victory, I have a secret weapon just in case they perform as usual, it’s called “BLOGGING”, or hostility release. See ya’ll at halftime.

soldierman

March 30th, 2011
7:12 pm

a tell tale sign for tonight constant passing outside the lane ending with josh taking a 3.

Jae Evolution

March 30th, 2011
7:14 pm

Wow, terrible start.

J.J.M

March 30th, 2011
7:14 pm

joe will lose this game for the hawks

Jae Evolution

March 30th, 2011
7:14 pm

Joe airball a 15 footer, oh boy.

soldierman

March 30th, 2011
7:14 pm

is it me or does when jj is playing the hawks are a different team in regards to playing in the paint? almost as if they depend on JJ too much

J.J.M

March 30th, 2011
7:15 pm

come on josh dont be scared of howard geez

Jae Evolution

March 30th, 2011
7:17 pm

Yo Jason Collins LOVES playing Dwight Howard LOL!

soldierman

March 30th, 2011
7:17 pm

2 files on DH we should be destroying the paint now