We’re LIVE from Hawks-Magic: Can they make it a series?

Hawks coach Mike Woodson has seen his team play inconsistently in the postseason. (AP photo)

Mike Woodson's Hawks have been inconsistent in the playoffs.

There’s a saying in sports that a playoff series doesn’t really begin until a team loses a home game.

It’s understandable if you’re not feeling that way after seeing the Hawks dismembered in Game 1 and fizzle in Game 2 against Orlando, losing two games of this playoff series by a combined 57 points. But back now in Philips Arena, where all is usually well, this is the Hawks’ last chance to show a pulse — and maintain it for 48 minutes.

It has been stated enough times in this corner but here we go again: The Hawks are at the point in their evolution where they shouldn’t be defined by the regular season (53-29) but by the postseason (4-3 over undermanned Milwaukee; 0-2 against Orlando).

Granted, only the most optimistic of folks projected them to beat Orlando in this series. The Magic reached the finals last year. They may win the championship this year. They’re superior at basketball’s two key positions: center and point guard.

But what you wanted to see from the Hawks this series is passion, intelligence and consistency under fire, and too often that hasn’t been the case.

Can they win tonight? Absolutely. In a 2-0 series, the trailing  home team tends to play its best game, knowing at 3-0 the series probably is over. (For what it’s worth, Las Vegas has this as a close game: The Magic are favored by 2 to 2 1/2 points.)

The Hawks’ objectives shouldn’t change: pound Dwight Howard inside as much as possible with rotating hackers (Zaza Pachulia, Joe Smith, Jason Collins). Play pressure defense to try and force turnovers. Hope Orlando doesn’t get hot from trey-range. See where you’re at in the fourth quarter.

The Hawks are 37-8 at home this year (34-7 in the regular season; 3-1 in the playoffs). However, Philips Arena is not a cure all. We saw Milwaukee win Game 5 here to push the Hawks to the brink of elimination in the first round.

In fact, since winning four straight home playoff games in 2008 (3-0 vs. Boston) and 2009 (first game vs. Miami), the Hawks have gone only 5-4 at Philips. The breakdown: 2-1 in the rest of the Miami series, 0-2 vs. Cleveland, 3-1 vs. Milwaukee.

So what do you think. Can the Hawks make a series of this? We’ll be here blogging live during the game, but let’s hear your predictions now.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

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484 comments Add your comment

I was a Hawks fan

May 8th, 2010
3:53 pm

We are gonna get blown out……again.

I was a Hawks fan

May 8th, 2010
3:54 pm

im not keeping high hopes for these hawks again.

I was a Hawks fan

May 8th, 2010
4:00 pm

Im predicting the hawks get blown out by 25.

wordsmithtom

May 8th, 2010
4:04 pm

The can win. If they work the ball to Horford in the high post early and often. If they revert to that same old second half iso-Joe/iso Crawford. Forgetaboutit. Orlando has that game stopped.

For an “old school” coach, Woodson is a failure. Reverting to jumpshooting instead of ball movement. Time for new leadership; win, lose or draw.

DocDawg

May 8th, 2010
4:04 pm

Any adversity and they’ll go in the tank. The team has some great complementary pieces, but without leadership, a decent point guard, or a dominant center they have peaked.

Dawgs2010

May 8th, 2010
4:07 pm

To put things into perspective:

The second has not been kind to our beloved Hawks. In fact, you have to go back to 1997 since we have won a game in the second round. That was on the road, Game 2, in Chicago.

Here is the breakdown friends:

2010 – Orlando, Games 1 & 2 = Losses
2009 – Cleveland, 0 – 4
1999 – New York, 0 – 4
1997 – Chicago, 1 – 4
1996 – Orlando, 1 – 4
1994 – Indiana, 2 – 4…..We were the #1 seed.

That is as far back as I want to go without bringing up the heartbreaks of the late eighties.

3DawgKnight

May 8th, 2010
4:13 pm

This is a sad commentary but, a great # of fans ( myself included)
probably wish for a quick and painless elimination by Orl. so the
*process* can begin.
( Prediction – Magic in Four)
* New Coach, new direction, new outlook.
* No need to start over!
* Address flaws you mentioned.(center and point guard)

shane

May 8th, 2010
4:17 pm

Prediction

Hawks feed off energy of the crowd and come out hot but Magic superior skill takes over in the 2nd half and they win going away.

Musically Challenged

May 8th, 2010
4:32 pm

Hey Jeff-

Any Steely Dan playing at Phillips?

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Jeff D.

May 8th, 2010
4:38 pm

They can make it interesting. Prediction: Hawks 92 Magic 88, Randolph Morris will hit one short jumper and two hits from the oxygen tank.

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Art Vandelay

May 8th, 2010
4:40 pm

Jeff, not to be a stickler, but the Hawks only need to maintain a pulse for 48 minutes, not 60 — which still may be asking too much.

Woodys No Goody

May 8th, 2010
4:40 pm

Are people really going to watch this game?

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
4:44 pm

Musically Challenged — You’re so young. How could you possibly appreciate great music or rich lyrics? Punk kid.

CATlanta

May 8th, 2010
4:44 pm

I sure hope they can work some magic in game three (pardon the pun). This has been a recurring bad dream lately with the way the Braves and Hawks are playing.

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
4:44 pm

Jeff D. — I like your prediction, especially the part with the oxygen.

Edlver

May 8th, 2010
4:46 pm

Hawks win by 4. 88-84

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
4:48 pm

Art — Yeah, but 60 would be REALLY good, don’t you think? (fixed).

Edlver

May 8th, 2010
4:50 pm

Steely Dan is solid, chicks certainly like it

Time

May 8th, 2010
4:52 pm

Hey, all you Josh Smith he’s not mature enough blah blah people. Turn on the NBA shootaround pregame show now.

Time

May 8th, 2010
5:02 pm

That’s the real Josh Smith. Not the doesn’t care only me superstar some around here like to spout off about. He’s a guy this city should LOVE. Not hate because he’s not LeBron.

Hawks win 103-90

FIRE MIKE WOODSON EXPRESS

May 8th, 2010
5:03 pm

I truly hope Rick Sund has not made up his mind on a contract for this guy we call a head coach. I mean really people why keep this guy around? He is awful and can’t motivate a team to save his life.

FIRE MIKE WOODSON EXPRESS

May 8th, 2010
5:04 pm

@Time: your a idiot no question about it.

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:07 pm

Fire Mike Woodson Express — FYI, it’s not just Sund, it’s ownership, and I don’t think they’ll make up their minds until after the season.

Jeff D.

May 8th, 2010
5:07 pm

Jeff Schultz, how is the crowd? Late as usual?

NCBravesFan

May 8th, 2010
5:09 pm

Schultz is live-blogging the game, which means the fix is in! Hawks will win a squeaker!

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:09 pm

Yes, late crowd as usual. About 3/4 full right now.

Time

May 8th, 2010
5:09 pm

Yep, I’m a idiot because I see the good things Josh does and doesn’t rant and call people they don’t know on the internet names. Good stuff.

Watch Josh tonight. He’s going to be the reason we win and we get right back in this series. With or without bandwagon hater fans.

Harry The Hawk

May 8th, 2010
5:10 pm

Want to be optomistic but the Hawks lack one crucial ingredient:heart. Magic in 4….5 at the most

Harry The Hawk

May 8th, 2010
5:12 pm

Case in point, 2 minutes in and Josh is already sulking (trailing an OFFENSIVE play)…no heart!

Zach

May 8th, 2010
5:12 pm

Dear Jeff,

We should play defense. It might help.

Love,

Zach

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:13 pm

Hawks moving the ball early on offense. That’s a good sign

Harry The Hawk

May 8th, 2010
5:14 pm

Replays just showed an iso of Josh’s ‘ole’ defense on dwight

Jeff D.

May 8th, 2010
5:14 pm

Time- I love Josh but if he gets a rebound and tries to take it all the way down the other end, through the middle of the defense I’ll never wear a headband again.

Zach

May 8th, 2010
5:15 pm

Why would you not attack dwight on every possession. If he blocks five but you get three fouls on him isn’t that a victory?

FIRE MIKE WOODSON EXPRESS

May 8th, 2010
5:15 pm

Jeff does the Hawks coaching staff ever say anything to the players?

Zach

May 8th, 2010
5:15 pm

Man josh has improved his outside stroke.

Zach

May 8th, 2010
5:16 pm

Welcome back to ATL Howard, where every single call hopefully will not go your way.

Zach

May 8th, 2010
5:16 pm

Welcome back to ATL Howard, where every single call hopefully will not go your way.

MitchC

May 8th, 2010
5:16 pm

Jeff, I think the Hawks will go down in five. I think they will win tonight, lose Game Four, and be finished in Orlando in Game Five. Something tells me that a combination of the home crowd, and more frenzied play by the Hawks, will make a difference tonight, but, ultimately, the Magic will find a way to win Game Four, and then, there is no way the Hawks are winning a Game Five in Orlando.

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:18 pm

Hawks are getting some open looks on offense but shooting only 4-for-13.

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:19 pm

Zach — sound advice. I’ll pass that along to the coaching staff.

Rod

May 8th, 2010
5:19 pm

I thought it was at 8 tonight. Good thing I just checked the ajc or I would have missed the game.

FIRE MIKE WOODSON EXPRESS

May 8th, 2010
5:19 pm

What do you expect Jeff, it’s the Joe Johnson – Josh Smith show.

Time

May 8th, 2010
5:19 pm

If they just keep moving the ball. Best sign is Joe has actually just caught and shot a couple times.

Jeff D.

May 8th, 2010
5:19 pm

I’d rather not see Josh perfecting his outside stroke during a game that counts.

FIRE MIKE WOODSON EXPRESS

May 8th, 2010
5:20 pm

Funn guy Jeff: LOL please pass it along!!

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:20 pm

Fire Mike Woodson — That’s what I hear. But sometimes they don’t listen. Translation: Not always all the coach’s fault.

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2010
5:21 pm

Mitch C — I also have a hard time seeing Hawks win a game in Orlando, if they get back to Orlando.