Atlanta Hawks at Magic Game 5: ‘Growth’ business

Orlando–”Growth” has been the buzzword for the Hawks over the last two days.

Marvin: “We have an opportunity to show some growth. We’ve had a chance to close series [early] in the past and we haven’t done that.”

Al: “This is the first time we’ve been in this kind of position where we are up 3-1. We are a different team but they are coming out and giving us all they have. We have to make sure we come out ready and expect it and it will show some growth if we are able to come out on top.”

L.D.: “With this team I am always talking about this team growing. To me them positioning themselves to go into Orlando and finish this thing off, that’s a huge step in our growth process.”

I know what you are thinking. The Hawks have bigger goals than winning a first-round playoff series. That’s true but I’m also inclined to agree that a W tonight would mean be significant in a few ways.

Already the Hawks are the second team in franchise history to lead a seven-game series 3-1 (the ‘69-70 squad beat the Bulls in five). Win tonight and they would be the fifth time in 15 tries that an Atlanta Hawks team closed out a playoff series on the road (the ‘95-’96 squad was the last to do it, winning at Indiana). It also would be just the third time in 24 series the Atlanta Hawks won as the lower seed and the first time in a best-of-seven.

And let’s not forget that the Magic bludgeoned the Hawks last spring, prompting everyone to question their heart. Beating the Magic in five, even a different Magic team, would have to count for something.

That’s historical perspective. From a practical standpoint, the Hawks need the rest. Going seven games with Miami and Milwaukee the past two seasons didn’t help. That was especially true last season, when expectations for the Hawks were high and the Milwaukee series felt like a letdown.

“We were more worn out mentally than physically,” L.D. said. “We were already battered mentally and then we had had to gear up for what was going to be a physical pounding we knew that was going to happen during that series. It took a toll on us.”

So here’s a chance for the Hawks to put away the Magic and get a break between series. It won’t be easy.

“Coming back to this building, the energy is going to be high,” L.D. said. “The Magic have a lot of pride. They play hard. We have to expect we are not going to get a lot of calls. There’s a certain mentality you definitely have to have to close out a team. You play to be the desperate team as well. You don’t play like you have a 3-1 lead; you play like you’re behind 3-1. You play like this is the last game for you.”

More on those missed 3s

It seems one popular narrative in the series is that the Magic are missing bushels of wide open 3s. So I fired up the Synergy Sports Technology machine again to see if the video evidence supports that story.

In Game 3, the Magic got nine clean looks on 3-pointers (not counting heaves at the buzzer) and made four. One of those clean looks was a Redick miss when the Hawks pretty much let him shoot because Orlando was down four with time about to expire.

In Game 4, the Magic got eight clean looks on 3-pointers (not counting heaves at the buzzer) and made two. One of those clean looks was an Arenas miss after Jamal tripped and fell to the court (Jamal, by the way, aggressively defend 3s in that game after hardly working at it in the first three).

The Magic have attempted a total of 90 3-pointers in the series when subtracting the six heaves at the buzzer. By my count they’ve had 39 “clean” looks (43 percent of their legit attempts) and made 13, or 33 percent. I don’t know how many clean looks the Magic normally get or how many they usually make but it’s a pretty safe guess that they are accustomed to more open looks and making more of them.

There’s more to this story when you look at the video. The definition of a “clean” look is subjective but I can tell you mine was pretty liberal because these are NBA players in general and proven 3-point shooters in particular. I counted some looks as “clean” when Hawks defenders were quickly closing to challenge but didn’t appear to get a hand in the shooter’s face or into the expected path of the shot.

Those plays have happened a lot in this series. It’s been rare that a Magic shooter is standing alone outside of the 3-point line without the shot either being directly challenged or with the imminent threat of a closing defender. The Hawks have been very aggressive on their close-outs against Magic players other than Jameer (whom they don’t have to challenge as hard because he’s shorter) because none of them are a real threat to score off the dribble.

If Orlando’s 3-point shooters don’t look comfortable, could that be less about choking and more about being thrown off balance by swarms of long, athletic Hawks defenders buzzing around them? You can see on video that even when the Magic do get clean looks from 3 they tend to rush their shots. Could at least part of the reason for that be because they get only half a beat before a Hawks player is running at them to close off the space?

Maybe that’s why today Stan Van Gundy said: “We have to shoot the ball better, which I think in some ways means we have to have better patience and execution to create better shots.”

Again, I don’t know how many clean looks the Magic usually get in a game. I do know that a principle of their offense is to get those looks by way of Dwight post-ups leading to spot-up 3s. And I can tell you that after four games in this series the Magic still have gotten exactly one open 3-pointer in that manner. One.

That’s stymied the Magic’s effectiveness with spot-up Js, which was of one of their most effective play types in the regular season. Like Ryan Anderson said the other day, the Hawks are forcing the Magic to get their 3-point looks in different ways. It’s not going well for Orlando.

After looking at replays of all of Orlando’s 3-point attempts in this series, my take is that the “Magic are missing open shots” theory holds less water than the “aggressive Hawks defenders are disrupting Orlando’s shooters” theory.

Notes

  • Zaza on the expected reception from Magic fans: “I remember rookie year I was fan favorite. Now I am most hated.”
  • L.D. on fan animosity for Zaza: “It’s not anything he’s not used to. I’m sure in his career it’s happened before. Zaza is a pro.”
  • L.D. expects the Magic to use Arenas in more pick-and-rolls. Van Gundy expects the Hawks to adjust how they defend Arenas in those plays.
  • There have been 194 teams to face a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series. Only eight of them recovered to win.
  • According to Synergy, Jamal leads the playoffs in field-goal attempts per game off the dribble (7.8). Said Van Gundy: “That is a tough thing. It’s not an easy thing to handle. We will make adjustments but when he’s ‘dribble, dribble, dribble’ and then pulls up that’s not easy to deal with without fouling.”
  • Van Gundy on Dwight’s minutes: “I don’t want to give away a big secret but he’s not going to get a lot of rest.”

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

608 comments Add your comment

JeJe

April 26th, 2011
4:58 pm

MUST WIN MENTALITY TONIGHT

FIRST

hawks_4_life

April 26th, 2011
5:00 pm

JUST WIN BABY

Jermaine

April 26th, 2011
5:00 pm

Come on, Hawks, close this series out tonight. The Hawks need to come out with tons of energy and aggressiveness in this game. The Magic are going to be fighting for their playoff lives, so the Hawks need to be prepared to not just match their intensity, but to surpass their intensity. The Hawks need to show that they are truly growing as a team and they are ready to take that next step. I hope that the Hawks come out with fire and desire tonight (like Rick James) and earn a huge closeout victory on the road. Let’s go Hawks! I know you can do it!

JeJe

April 26th, 2011
5:01 pm

Tonight is about heart. I expect Al Horford to step up and make sure everyone is on the same page. He better be communicative with his teammates and make sure Smoove doesn’t screw us over by shooting 3s and getting idiotic Technical Fouls

JeJe

April 26th, 2011
5:01 pm

Orlando has not led much in this series and has not beaten us in a week. We need to ATTACK

Nate ArchiBALL

April 26th, 2011
5:05 pm

LET’S GO HAWKS!!!!

Nate ArchiBALL

April 26th, 2011
5:14 pm

@JeJe – It would help if the following trio shoot better than they did in Sunday’s victory.
Al (6 – 15), Joe (6 – 15 ) and Josh (4 -10)……..40% might not work on the road.

Rev in Tampa

April 26th, 2011
5:15 pm

MC, I appreciate the extra work in the video room for this write up. I will completely affect the way I watch the game when the Hawks are on defense. Great insights.

p2theC

April 26th, 2011
5:17 pm

I especially liked what Drew said about expecting to not get alot of calls. If some of his players can get that through their heads, aka JSmooth, we might actually have a shot at closing this thing out. I believe things go way better for my Hawks when they are able to just move on to the next episode after a foul call. Go Hawks!!!

Freshfromatl

April 26th, 2011
5:18 pm

If the Hawks come out tonight and handle their business the way they are supposed to by closing out this series, we may just have something brewing here.

However, if they come out and get blown out by the Magic, that will let me know that these are the same ol’ Hawks.

I will be watching.

NagoyaHawk

April 26th, 2011
5:19 pm

For us fans, too. Being able to witness history, the better kind that is, is growth and completely new. I’m hoping those guys exorcised away those old Hawks and we never ever see them again. These Hungry Hawks look like the real deal.

JObJO

April 26th, 2011
5:19 pm

I expect the Hawks to loose game 5. Orl will find their shot.
I hope I am wrong.

atlienforlife

April 26th, 2011
5:21 pm

The hawks need this game tonight. They do not need the pressure of this series being prolonged;also, Michael’s right the length of those other series hurt the hawks in the second round, with fatigue and injuries. Jamals been great, but please pass the ball a little more. Josh Smith is the key to this game in my opinion, he needs to bring his energy to match what the magic are going to bring.

The Truth

April 26th, 2011
5:25 pm

LD: “Coming back to this building, the energy is going to be high,” L.D. said. “The Magic have a lot of pride. They play hard. We have to expect we are not going to get a lot of calls”

I’m thinking Orlando’s real six-man will not let them lose tonight

The Referees, that is

Somewhat agree with Chuck on this one, the Hawks have not shown that “killer instinct” in the past (over coming adversity with opponents on the ropes, ripping their hearts out), I would be quite surprise if they showed it tonight. But a win, by 1 or 20, any means necessary is still a win.

Rev in Tampa

April 26th, 2011
5:34 pm

Has anybody ever seen LD work the refs after bad calls? If he is ever going to do it tonight would be the right time to start.

Gamer

April 26th, 2011
5:37 pm

TO HAVE A CHANCE OF CLOSING THIS SERIES DOWN IN ORLANDO IN FIVE GAMES, IS A HUGE FEAT FOR HAWKS..

IF MET BY HAWKS…THEN HISTORY WILL FAVOR HAWKS TO WIN SEMI-FINAL MATCHUP WITH BULLS OR PACERS…

LD IS RIGHT, THE MAGIC WILL PLAY DESPERATELY….MEANING ANYTHING CAN BE EXPECTED FROM MAGIC’S PLAYERS…IT GOING TO GET PHYSICAL AND DIRTY….

IN ORDER FOR THE HAWKS TO MATCH MAGIC’S HIGH-LEVEL INTENSITY IN GAME FIVE, THE HAWKS MUST PLAY AS THE DESPERADOS…..LEAVE NOTHING AFTER THE GAME…..LEAVE IT ALL IN GAME FOR FORTY EIGHT MINUTES!!!!!

NON STOP HUSTLE….HUSTLE HUSTLERS,,,GOT TO BE HUSTLING TO WIN….YEA, YEA,,,MY RAP,,HAWKS FOCUS IN ON MAGIC’S AND THAT’S A WRAP…..

Rufus1

April 26th, 2011
5:38 pm

NO RESPECT….

It could possibly be the 6’4 PG, 6’8 SG, 6’9 SF, 6’10 PF, or the 7ft center and their incredible wingspans that is causing them to miss. Maybe their LEGS are tired from gaurding players who are 20lbs heavier and more athletic.

If they(Magic) were playing the Celtics or Bulls they would get the credit, but the Hawks are just lucky after 8 games….

SWAT Native

April 26th, 2011
5:55 pm

I hope the Hawks can close it out tonight on the Magic’s logo in their brand new arena. They really need to treat this as a must-win game. The Hawks shouldn’t let the Magic get started in this series. Don’t count on game 6 in Atlanta, and you will definitely not win game 7 in Orlando. Tonight’s the night.

doc

April 26th, 2011
6:06 pm

wow one three after a post up. way to defend hawks. keep it up.

the path is by defense. if it is there, these guys can win, no other way. i want to hear more of this defense stuff MC as the tale will be told there. very nice analysis and keep it up. wonder if your detractor here will abide by this rather than rah rah stuff? i just wish josh would say how much fun it is to shut down the other team instead of it is fun to get put and run. he is also not the only one but it suggests a mentality needed.

mykhalc

April 26th, 2011
6:10 pm

AAU ball or not, a closeout W on the road tonite would be impressive!!!

doc

April 26th, 2011
6:13 pm

heh heh at myk.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 26th, 2011
6:17 pm

I have just Two Words about tonight!

DE FENSE!
__________________

I don’t give a rat’s tail about the offense – really.

Section 303

April 26th, 2011
6:24 pm

I always want the Hawks to win. I really want them to win tonight because Game 6 would be too much stress, for them and me. Get it done tonight.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2011
6:26 pm

I don’t want to have to pay for tickets for another first round playoff game. Hopefully the Hawks will let me save my money for Round 2. Let’s get it Hawks.

Freshfromatl

April 26th, 2011
6:35 pm

Co-sign comments made by:

drmaryb (*_-),
Section 303,
and Najeh Davenpoop.

JUST WIN BABY WIN!!!!

SteveW

April 26th, 2011
6:40 pm

That Collins stat from the last blog means with Collins on the floor, ATL is playing unbelievable defense. Near historic defense for the last 4 games really.

Good job Hawks!

Blast

April 26th, 2011
6:40 pm

Let’s Go, Hawks!

Blast

April 26th, 2011
6:43 pm

Finally my posts are showing up again!

Game 5 will tell a lot about Hawks ‘growth’ or not. Close out the series, then they’ve really matured. Lose by not playing intensive defence, then they are not just there yet. Liking what I’m seeing in this 1st round series so far, though.

Jermaine

April 26th, 2011
6:44 pm

“I don’t give a rat’s tail about the offense – really.”

Well, I sure hope that the Hawks care about the offense because good offense is a big step toward good defense. Quick, ill-advised, low-percentage shots lead to easy transition buckets and defensive breakdowns on the other end. I get what you are saying, and I, too, hope that the Hawks play with all-out intensity on defense, but they better be sure that they also play smart on the offensive end, because that will be just as important. The Hawks need to step it up on both ends of the floor, not just one.

Mike W

April 26th, 2011
6:46 pm

Lets Getter Done Hawks,Win tonight and have a boost of confidence going into 2nd round. Play TEAMBALL AND DEFENSE.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 26th, 2011
6:46 pm

Fresh Lettuce!

You feel me Bruh?

Your DE FENSE is your OF Fense. And, if your defense is really good?
It can be down right offensive! (see ZaZa in the Head-Butt department)

Neki Ecko

April 26th, 2011
6:47 pm

I think this game will sum up the Hawks growth during this series. If Orlando wins this one, then the chance that the Hawks get past the first round will be very silm.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 26th, 2011
7:05 pm

Roll Call!
____________

JeJe
Najeh
303
Northcyde
Grand-Daddy
O’Brien
BigDave
Doc
SlimJr
It Was Not A Bad Pick
DUI
Rufus1
Mykhalc
Jermaine
SWAT Native
SteveW
Blast
Kevin M
IMUS
Sautee
Ken Strickland
et. al.
_________________

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!
Gentlemen! Start Your Engines!

Slimjr

April 26th, 2011
7:15 pm

I am PRESENT drmaryb!!!! The ice cold ones are now at the right temp.. The big screen is warmin up!!!!!!!!!!!

I have one word that just came to mind?????

MOTION, MOTION, MOTION, MOTION, MOTION, MOTION
Oh one more thing, Elle Ducan should get some TV time tonight????? LOL

mykhalc

April 26th, 2011
7:19 pm

yep…present!!!

Slimjr

April 26th, 2011
7:19 pm

Folks fyi, Georgia is supposed to get slammed tomorrow by potentially the worst storm in recorded history..So get your gear together and be ready….Man I hope those weather experts are wrong…Those weather radios do work pretty good though..Now back to the game at hand!!!

Blast

April 26th, 2011
7:34 pm

Let’s get it!

bigdave

April 26th, 2011
7:34 pm

LETS GET IT!!!!!

BE SPECIAL….

drmaryb (*_-)

April 26th, 2011
7:35 pm

Haven’t had a beer in a while … Just pulled up with my 6 Pack:
Icehouse on tap tonight. Got my popcorn. Got my game face.

Let’s Go Hawks! Anything less than a win will disappoint!

Killer … Killer. … Killer Instinct … That’s what’s up!

James on Pharr Rd

April 26th, 2011
7:35 pm

Looking to see how well we close quarters tonight.

thwg

April 26th, 2011
7:35 pm

ANOTHER MUST WIN! GET IT DONE!

Rev in Tampa

April 26th, 2011
7:37 pm

Is NBATV off the air in Atl? I typically get it but it is saying it is temporarily unavailable. I can still watch the game on FoxSportsFlorida in high def, but that means I have to listen to the blowhard Magic announcers.

drmaryb (*_-)

April 26th, 2011
7:39 pm

Roll Call!
________

Rod from College Park
Niremental
Honest Abe
Astro Joe
Superior Blogman
NDTKA

Where yall at?

Come on! We need everybody!

James on Pharr Rd

April 26th, 2011
7:39 pm

MC

Did LD make the team watch film of last year’s embarrassing blow out games today as an added incentive?

J from the A

April 26th, 2011
7:39 pm

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2011
7:40 pm

Hard to tell from TV, but does it seem like that Magic crowd is really quiet for the start of maybe their last home game of the season?

mr. phil

April 26th, 2011
7:40 pm

need focus tonight

thwg

April 26th, 2011
7:42 pm

Maybe we’ll win a tip in the second round..

Rev in Tampa

April 26th, 2011
7:42 pm

does Josh not even jump on the tip off?

Najeh Davenpoop

April 26th, 2011
7:43 pm

Smoove vs. Bass jumpshot contest!