Digi-Blog gives a game 5 preview of Hawks, Magic

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(Updated: 2:05 p.m.)

ORLANDO — The Hawks are one win from clinching their NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic. That’s not going over very well in Mouseland.

As you can see from headlines in today’s Orlando Sentinel above — “Curtains for Magic?” and, “A case of swishful thinking” (cute) — some panic has set in. And while we have spent a little time in Atlanta this season discussing the possible ramifications of a quick Hawks’ playoff exit, consider the case of the Magic. General manager Otis Smith could/should be out. Coach Stan Van Gundy is catching some heat. Center Dwight Howard can opt out of his contract next season, assuming he doesn’t try to force his exit before then, which he probably will.

The Hawks? Hey, it’s all good! They’re suddenly the blueprint!

OK. Nobody is going to assume a series victory, even with a 3-1 series lead going into tonight’s game. We’ve seen too much. But I just came from the morning shoot-around and there’s certainly no sense of relaxation.

Here are a few soundbites, without the sound, from the media sessions. I figured I’d bring you this morning’s game-day blog in Digi-Blog style because I had a camera with me anyway and now I can turn in a fake $19.50 receipt for batteries, claiming they were really, really expensive in the hotel.

(Probably shouldn’t have written that. Oh well. Nobody in accounting reads.)

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box2

This is the box score from game two. It’s the only game Orlando won. Why am I showing you this? Because for some reason it’s still being projected on one of the video screens in the media work room at the Amway Center — one week after the game. Another attempt to brainwash the media, I suspect.

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freeway

This is what was being projected on the Magic’s video scoreboard during the Hawks’ shoot-around. Yes. That is a live shot of the freeway. I’m not sure if Orlando was trying choke the Hawks out with “HDTV reality exhaust,” or they just wanted to get an early feel for the party atmosphere downtown leading up to this potential elimination night (hah!). By the way, if you look real close, you can see Hedo Turkoglu’s feet sticking out from under that 18-wheeler.

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cardboard

These are cardboard cutouts of five Orlando players. Or maybe they’re the real thing. It’s been kind of hard to tell at times this series. The one on the left is Jameer Nelson, who assumed Orlando would have an easy time with the Hawks this round.

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jameer

Jameer insisted on posing for a picture with me. Thanks, pal. Catch you in the second round.

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jerseys

These are Dwight Howard jerseys. The Magic sell them in three different colors. There’s no word on whether Orlando also will be selling Howard jerseys in gold or purple next season when he is playing for the Lakers. Just kidding. Sort of. Josh Smith, Howard’s good buddy, said, “He’s exerted so much energy and he’s played so well, yet they’re still struggling to win games. From the mental aspect, I know it’s frustrating.”

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stan

This is Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy. He was kind of funny and even flip with the media today — far looser than you’d expect from a coach facing an elimination game. When asked about fatigue possibly setting in for Howard, given all of the minutes he has played, Van Gundy said: “I don’t want to give away a big secret here before the game. But he will not get a lot of rest tonight.” On whether there will be any carryover from the game three scrap between Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson, who return from their suspensions: “Yes. I think they’ll square off at center court.” On his defensive plan for trying to slow down the Hawks’ Jamal Crawford: “We’re going to triple team him. We’ll have two guys guard the other four.” Thank you. Try the veal.

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drew

This is Hawks coach Larry Drew, who actually may have more job security than Van Gundy at this moment. Who knew? Drew is saying all the right things about how the Hawks need to play. Unfortunately, he will be in a suit tonight, not shorts. Quoting: “There’s a certain mentality you definitely have to have to close a team out. 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.”

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zaza

Here’s Pachulia. He was suspended last game after head-butting Richardson in game three. Pachulia and Jason Collins both have gotten under the skin of Howard in this series, and Pachulia caught an elbow from Howard in his last game. Pachulia fully expects to be booed tonight. That’s really funny when you consider this: He was a rookie with Orlando back in 2003-04 and was quite popular. Fact is, he was so popular that he was voted the fans’ favorite player. He even made the cover of the team’s in-house magazine. Pachulia: “I was fan favorite — officially. It was voted. … Now I’m the most hated player.”

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Hope you enjoyed the brief tour. That’s it for now. I’ll check back with a live blog about an hour before tonight’s game. Any early thoughts on game five?

By Jeff Schultz

For previous Digi-Blogs, click here

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

67 comments Add your comment

REAL TALKER

April 26th, 2011
1:45 pm

REAL TALKER

April 26th, 2011
1:47 pm

Atlanta and Memphis in the finals, mark it down!

Carlos

April 26th, 2011
1:56 pm

Carlos

April 26th, 2011
1:58 pm

Need to go for the jugular tonight! Don’t give the Magic any hope….

jtb

April 26th, 2011
2:03 pm

Jeff Schultz,
Do you know the last time the Hawks won a playoff series that didn’t go the full 7 games, or 5 before the rule change?

mountain_jim

April 26th, 2011
2:08 pm

Enjoyed the photos, Jeff.

I see where the game is again on NBA TV. Last week’s game that was on NBA TV used the Magic announcers, so I guess this one will too. Then the NBA studio hosts BS over the game and don’t return sound to inside the venue until they feel like it.

I will check and see if DirecTV does not black out the Hawks channel like they do here in NC during regular season. Hope the Hawks close it out here so I can enjoy the NFL draft without channel switching on Thursday night.

Realsquawk

April 26th, 2011
2:12 pm

These Digi blogs are great!

NCBravesFan

April 26th, 2011
2:16 pm

Orlando looks like a nice place to Digi-Blog from, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

rollo lawson

April 26th, 2011
2:25 pm

Yeah, those Magic announcers (especially Matt Guokas) turn my stomach. They complain about everything.

The Hawks should attack Dwight Howard on offense by driving the ball to the basket. Josh Smith is the key tonight. He should make a conserted effort to work in the post exclusively. No hanging around the 3 point line tonight and no long jump shots. Horford should take Ryan Anderson into the post everytime he comes into the game. Joe should make an effort to abuse Reddick every chance he gets as well. There eyes should light up like Christmas. Josh should continue to give Hedo fits also. To all the Hawks: 1)Move the ball, 2) Be Patient, 3) Play smart, and 4) drive the ball to the basket early and often.

BBIB

April 26th, 2011
2:33 pm

“Jeff Schultz,
Do you know the last time the Hawks won a playoff series that didn’t go the full 7 games, or 5 before the rule change?”

No. Why don’t you tell us

Hunter 790

April 26th, 2011
2:38 pm

This game is huge for Atlanta. If they can close this series out on the road…….again…..on the road. Who will they be scared of? If we get through Orland, and end up with Chicago in the next round, I expect the formula to be fairly similar. Force anyone else on the floor aside from Rose to beat you. It won’t happen. I love the draw we have to get to the East Finals. Isn’t it ironic the two biggest needs for the Hawks are a center and a point gaurd. If we beat Orlando, we’ll have conquered a dominating center, and if we can pull an upset next round against Chicago with the same mentality, down goes one of the best points in the NBA.

GO HAWKS!

Willy

April 26th, 2011
2:47 pm

Orlando had this coming, they are way too snooty about their Magic.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
2:48 pm

JTB — Of 7-game series that the Hawks have won, the last one that didn’t go 7-games was 4-1 over Chicago in 1969-70. Is that what you were asking?

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
2:50 pm

Mountain Jim — Thanks. … And yes, if Hawks’ lose, there’s going to be some channel-switching going on Thursday night with the first round of the draft.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
2:50 pm

Realsquawk — Thank you, kindly. I’ll pass along the sentiments to my photography staff. (Me.)

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
2:52 pm

NCBravesFan — On Orlando: There are worse places to live. Actually a couple of really cool neighborhoods near downtown that are Virginia Highlands-like. Just have to stay away from Disney-fied areas. And traffic.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
2:53 pm

BBIB — asked and answered above (if I understood question correctly).

wxwax

April 26th, 2011
2:55 pm

On the Stan van Gundy piccie… could you please write a column on the hair of the guy at the far left in the blue shirt?

Bob Rathburn

April 26th, 2011
2:56 pm

Make sure you tune into to the game Hawks fans!! I plan on putting my foot up a refs ass when they dont call another moving screen on Howard. Go Hawks!!

wxwax

April 26th, 2011
2:57 pm

The Hawks will lose in the second round.

All this feel-good stuff is only because they happen to match-up well against the Magic.

The Bulls will squash them. Or prong them. Or whatever it is rampant Bulls do.

Tech Fan

April 26th, 2011
3:02 pm

I live in Orlando for 4 years and it was awful….terrible place to live…but yes there are worse places. Winter Park is Virginia Highlands like. If you can afford it.

wxwax

April 26th, 2011
3:05 pm

I’m serious.

That guy must spend hours constructing his hair every day. He must hate wind like the rest of us hate horse meat.

Tech Fan

April 26th, 2011
3:06 pm

Horse meat? nom nom nom nom nom!!

wxwax

April 26th, 2011
3:07 pm

Or it could be a toupee.

The kind that leaves a generous forehead.

Reid Adair

April 26th, 2011
3:07 pm

Next to the Count, the digi-blogs are some of my favorites. Enjoy your time in Orlando, Jeff.

teedub

April 26th, 2011
3:08 pm

Jeff – The bunny ears on Nelson were great. I was thinking a nice cut-out crow perched on his shoulder would be very fitting..

jtb

April 26th, 2011
3:09 pm

Yeah that’s what I was wondering. Thanks.

Tech Fan

April 26th, 2011
3:12 pm

See that picture of downtown Orlando? Its so hot down there you could probably fry and egg on the picture.

Naylor

April 26th, 2011
3:22 pm

doesn’t Larry Drew look about 75 years old in that pic? It looks like he is about to scream for his walker!

ScottG

April 26th, 2011
3:28 pm

Cute….. congrats for finally having something to potentially cheer about in ATL. But to do it with such a tasteless article shows your true (support them when they win, kick them when they don’t) character. Perhaps a beat reporter for the Chicago Bulls will have the same thing to write when they run you over but I doubt it. Even though I am not a Chicago Bull’s fan, they have tasted winning before and are a least professional about it. You’re pathetic!

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
3:30 pm

Wxwax — “On the Stan van Gundy piccie… could you please write a column on the hair of the guy at the far left in the blue shirt?” … Haha. That’s Brian Schmitz of Orlando Sentinel. Good guy. His hair isn’t quite as bad as the picture would suggest.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
3:30 pm

Thanks Reid.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2011
3:31 pm

Teedub — Funny thought on the crow.

Mike

April 26th, 2011
3:36 pm

Jeff,

If the Magic does lose tonight, would you think that Dwight will try to force the Magic to trade him during the off-season or just wait until next season when he becomes a free-agent?

ASHCAN.

April 26th, 2011
3:46 pm

@REAL TALKER thats not real talk.The hawks and memphis? were did you buy those rib sandwiches?

Dawglasville

April 26th, 2011
3:56 pm

Josh tonight – I predict 4 blocks, 4 missed three pointers, 4 turnovers, and at least 40 minutes walking around with his hands out like he is getting nailed to a cross.

Tech Fan

April 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

And 40 minutes of him giving the who just farted look

Peter

April 26th, 2011
4:11 pm

Well……If JJ and Crawford can contain their urge to go ISO in the second half, we should win. This team is longer and better than the Magic……We somehow need to play smarter.

I am hoping smarter actually happens and they take the series, get a few more days rest, and digest what “TEAM Ball ” means.

Maybe watch a bunch of Celtic tape, and see how the ball moves around on offense !

Dawglasville

April 26th, 2011
4:15 pm

Tech Fan – That’s funny and accurate.

Ole Smoky

April 26th, 2011
4:15 pm

Ya gotta love Van Gundy’s candid take on a game that likely will be his last !

Vick Supporter

April 26th, 2011
4:23 pm

My HAWKS are going to close it out tonight! Maybe we can get 20pts from Marvin (a wish of course)

Tale of Woe

April 26th, 2011
4:23 pm

Wait???? The Hawks are in the playoffs? And they are up 3 game to 1? When did this all happen? I have been camping out in hopes of seeing Kate Middleton….

Ethan Benoff

April 26th, 2011
4:42 pm

Who would have ever thunk it…. Go Hawks!!!!

JSS

April 26th, 2011
4:44 pm

Just move up to Lake Mary, spent 3 of the hottest weeks of my life in the O in 1977. That grinder was like an oven in hell.

Oh yeah, Hawks: “Make it happen!”

JSS

April 26th, 2011
4:47 pm

“Brian Schmitz of Orlando Sentinel” = Trump Lite!

JSS

April 26th, 2011
4:49 pm

They love Horse meat in Australia!

heartofdarkness

April 26th, 2011
5:00 pm

Don’t worry, Jeff, whatever happens tonight, it will be your fault. Enjoy.

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 26th, 2011
5:09 pm

Why is Dr. Drew interviewing Larry Drew?

Intervention issues?

Runner-

April 26th, 2011
5:53 pm

Far looser than you would expect? Maybe because he knows his old ref buddies at Amway Center will have no trouble finding a way for the Magic to win. You’ll see, this game will be a complete disgrace

By popular demand !

April 26th, 2011
6:15 pm

JJ
Hinrick
Marvin
Smoove
Howard