Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 1: Why will it be any different this time?
Orlando–That’s the question, isn’t it?
Unless you believe lots of Twin vs. Dwight is going to make up for 101 points of beat down. . . or Orlando vs. Atlanta without VC, Rashard and Gortat is that much worse than Orlando vs. Atlanta with J-Rich and Arenas . . . or L.D. is going to get something out of these players that Woody couldn’t . . . then there has to be something else to explain how the Hawks can win this series.
I’ve said I think the problem with the Hawks isn’t that they are good enough but just aren’t utilized properly or give in too easily, but rather they give in because they realize they are just not good enough. But I could be wrong about that. Maybe “something else” for the Hawks has nothing to do with match ups or lineups or shot selection or L.D.
Perhaps that’s why Hawks coaches included a couple appeals to players’ character among the usual keys on the pregame board:
“Good or bad, go to the next play.”
“Show no weakness or frustration.”
So I asked the Hawks: After what the Magic did to them last spring, why do they believe this series is going to be any different?
- “The biggest lesson is experience,” J.J. said. “We went through that the previous two years. We definitely know what to expect in this first-round series.”
- “I’m not really giving excuses, but there were a lot of guys not healthy last year,” Josh said. “There are no excuses this year. Guys have got to go out there and match their physicality. I think for those four games they controlled the whole game. They were may more physical than us, and it showed. We have got to be able to come out in this series and show these guys we are ready to play.”
- “Our first game down there in the regular season we went there with the mindset, ‘Let’s close the book on last year,’” Twin said.
- “I think we erased that during the regular season,” L.D. said. “With the playoffs being here now, I think our guys have responded to how they played last year vs. Orlando. I think they feel that they are a very capable ball club. Regardless of what happens tonight I don’t think it is going to shatter or waiver our confidence. I think our guys have gotten over the hump as far as what happened to us last year.”
- “It’s a different year,” Zaza said. “They have got different players. We made some changes. Last year is history; this year is what we are dealing with. We are controlling ‘right now.’ We can’t do anything about last year.”
- “It’s completely different,” Al said. “It’s a new year. We are playing a new lineup against them this season and that’s why we feel so confident going into the series.”
- “I don’t even remember what happened last year,” Jamal said. “It’s a totally different year, a totally different team.”
- Pape Sy, Magnum Rolle and Hilton Armstrong are inactive.
- The word from Orlando media types is Dwight is irritated by the “Twin as Dwight stopper” storyline. “It is what it is,” Dwight said. “None of these people who write these articles are out there playing. They don’t know. We are the ones playing.”
- Twin, meanwhile, says he’s been kind of amused by the sudden interest in what he has to say: “I haven’t seen this much attention since I was playing in the Finals.”
- The tenor of the stories about Twin suggest that people are amazed that he can have any success against Dwight but he notes that he does have a track record: “I’ve had a lot of experience guarding Shaq, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, going up against great post players in the playoffs. This is just another name on the list.”
- L.D. admits that the notion of defending Dwight straight-up probably isn’t sustainable over a seven-game series. “I think it’s important that you do give this team different looks in how you are going to defend Dwight, how you are going to defend any other actions you have to defend. No one can defend Dwight head’s up through a seven-game series. He’s just too big and too strong. I think overall your team concepts, you have to mix them up.”
- Judging by L.D.’s comments over the last couple days, Jamal, Zaza and Marvin are the only bench guys who definitely are part of the rotation. The other bigs are available for Dwight if necessary. As for Teague, Drew said: “We will see how it goes. I hope I can get him in there because he did a good job in the last few games.”
- Teague, comparing this year to last year’s playoffs: “There’s a possibility I actually might get in the game this year. Other than that, [I] just prepare for it like any other game.”
- Joe on if playing less minutes and coasting over the final four games will benefit the Hawks: “That’s the plan. Hopefully it does. Regardless of that, I am ready to play. I just think it’s time that we answer the challenge. We all should be ready.”
- J.J. Redick is active after missing the final 17 games with an abdominal injury. “We will play him like we normally would off the bench,” Stan Van Gundy said. “When J-Rich goes out, he will go in. How much he plays, he is going to have to figure that out and so am I and figure out where his conditioning is at.”
- As you might expect, the Magic don’t put much stock in the regular-season series: “It’s all different now,” Van Gundy said. “It doesn’t really matter.” Said Dwight: “The regular season is over with. It’s a new ball game.”
- Van Gundy does acknowledge that the Twin lineup has altered things: “They have played us bigger. They’ve defended us really well. We’ve got to attack them better and different. “
- AJC wise guy Jeff Schultz is chatting during the game.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat