Zaza and Richardson to miss Game 4: Advantage, Hawks

"My head's harder than yours!" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"'My head's harder than yours! Want me to prove it again?'" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Losing Zaza Pachulia hurts the Hawks. Losing Jason Richardson hurts the Magic more. It’s pretty simple why.

Zaza is a sub splitting minutes at center, where the Hawks have other choices: Jason Collins is the starter in this lineup, and Al Horford has had some success at the position, having twice made the All-Star team. Richardson is a starter and was, at least during the regular season, the second-leading scorer on a team starving for options beyond Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson

Howard has averaged 33.3 points in this series, up nearly 10 over his regular-season yield. Of Orlando’s 92 baskets, he has 33. Nelson has 19. That means 56.5 percent of the Magic’s offense is coming from two players. That’s why the Hawks lead 2-1. The rest of the Magic men have been, in a word, lousy.

The trades the Magic made in December were bold in the sense general manager Otis Smith acknowledged his team as constituted couldn’t win an NBA title, but being bold isn’t always being smart. The Magic were clearly better with Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat than with Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas. Better offensively, better defensively, better every which way.

Turkoglu has been the biggest dud. He was great as a point forward in Orlando’s run to the 2009 NBA finals, but after a stint in Toronto he’s half the player he was then. He has made 25 percent of his shots in this series, and his 3-point try over Al Horford with 30 seconds remaining Friday was, as coach Stan Van Gundy conceded more than once, a “horrible shot.”

Without Richardson, Turkoglu will need to shoot more. And somebody — J.J. Redick or Gilbert Arenas — will need to start. If it’s Redick, he’ll have to guard Joe Johnson, which is a howling mismatch. If it’s Arenas … well, Van Gundy rates him so highly he was deployed for six minutes in Game 2 and not at all in Game 3.

Howard worked 45 minutes and three seconds of Game 3. He sat only at the start of the second quarter, over which time the Magic were outscored 8-3. (The Hawks would win 88-84. Pretty big three minutes, those were.) Said Van Gundy: “He can’t even get a drink of water.”

Van Gundy also said: “We know who our guys [meaning scorers] are — Dwight, Jameer, Turk, J-Rich.” Only two of those have held up their end against the Hawks, and now one of the other two has been suspended for Game 4. Advantage, Hawks.

By Mark Bradley

86 comments Add your comment

J.J.M.

April 23rd, 2011
5:32 pm

2012 FEAR THE END

April 23rd, 2011
5:33 pm

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2011
5:34 pm

Kudos to 2012.

2012 FEAR THE END

April 23rd, 2011
5:35 pm

J.J.M.

April 23rd, 2011
5:35 pm

I think its advantage magic only because j rich really havent been playing well the whole series so what are they really losing? for the hawks we are losing a body that can bang with howard and besides zaza is NOT scared of howard which gets under howard skin.

Mark Bradley

April 23rd, 2011
5:39 pm

Whoops. We had a “first” stuck in the filter. I fear I’ve kudo’ed the wrong firster. J.J.M. takes the checkers.

2012 FEAR THE END

April 23rd, 2011
5:40 pm

Hot sauce

April 23rd, 2011
5:42 pm

Hawks must win game 4 to win series

J.J.M.

April 23rd, 2011
5:44 pm

lol@no thanks

Sean in a car

April 23rd, 2011
5:51 pm

Bradley, my kid just spit green Jello all over me

dave

April 23rd, 2011
5:58 pm

Chpatt

April 23rd, 2011
6:19 pm

Completely agree Mark. For a few reasons. We have shown that we can win with Dwight scoring 46 points, so now that they have lost ANOTHER option (15 ppg from JRich in the regular season) it is definitely advantage Hawks. Also, as you said. the matchup of Joe Johnson and JJ Redick/Quentin Richardson definitely favors the Hawks. However, i would not be surprised if Stan starts Q. Rich over Redick b/c Quentin was 3/3 from the 3 pt line in game 3; however, i don’t think he will be the same starting and playing all those extra minutes that he hasn’t played all season.

todd grantham

April 23rd, 2011
6:26 pm

Mark, you think Zaza will watch the game from Tblisi, Georgia?

Patrick

April 23rd, 2011
6:27 pm

I assume this means Etan Thomas will be activated for Game 4?

merbertmoover

April 23rd, 2011
6:28 pm

hmmm….merbert aint too sure….i love me some zaza for real! he gets all up in everyones faces and acts all scary and stuff….i wanna see zaza kick dwights a$$ in a cage match, you know what im sayin? i pay all kinds of money for that! mmmmhmmmm…..go hawks!!!!!!!!!! cmon baby!!!!!!! make the ATL proud!!!!!!!

BigDawg

April 23rd, 2011
6:30 pm

Love to see the Hawks playing with fire in their belly. I far cry from the regular season and last year’s series!

Jesse

April 23rd, 2011
6:35 pm

Time for ETAN THOMAS to earn his paycheck. He’s been on the bench all year… .he’ll need to come in a use his 6 fouls quickly.

dawg4u

April 23rd, 2011
6:40 pm

Mark, you are right that the Hawks are the better team and the suspensions favor the Hawks. My gut feeling is that the Hawks will win if they do it by at least game six. If it goes to a seventh game then I would favor Orlando.

country boy

April 23rd, 2011
6:52 pm

Hawks need to win game 4 badly. Howard and his refs will be hard to handle in Orlando.

Fair weather fan

April 23rd, 2011
6:52 pm

How bout dem Braves?
Off topic?
Ok
How bout dem Hawks?

Fair weather fan

April 23rd, 2011
6:53 pm

Braves win 5-2

Fair weather fan

April 23rd, 2011
6:56 pm

BTW, Jamaal called glass right after he put it up, right?

Jamaal

April 23rd, 2011
6:59 pm

Damn right. Mark heard me.

Mike

April 23rd, 2011
7:01 pm

ZAZA IS A STIFF!!!!!

Jamaal

April 23rd, 2011
7:03 pm

In that case, Mark’s definitely right.

BigMan

April 23rd, 2011
7:04 pm

I want to see what Etan Thomas is really made of. He showed it towards the end of year-can’t remember which game it was. But, he had like 10 points, 7 Rebounds, and like 4 blocked shots. Etan Thomas is capable of doing it.

J.J.M.

April 23rd, 2011
7:08 pm

etan had a death in the family

Hell hath froozen over ...

April 23rd, 2011
7:09 pm

Let’s put a bruiser in & have him throw some elbows a-la-Howard. Zaza got in Howard’s head … going to miss that in game 4.

TruthSeeker

April 23rd, 2011
7:11 pm

Agree with Bradley. Zaza has done a great job, but he’s basically an interchangeable part. Collins can do the same things we asked Zaza to do. So can Etan Thomas in a pinch.

BCC0224

April 23rd, 2011
7:14 pm

Zaza has played great in this series. He’s as tough as nails, and I’m glad he was standing up to Dwight Howard and the Magic because I know I would be mad if someone elbowed my jaw. Not saying he shouldn’t be suspended, but if the refs pay more attention to Howard’s flaying elbows, then Zaza’s one game suspension is well worth it. And just like the Boston series a few seasons ago, the ATL crowd is solidly in his corner.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 23rd, 2011
7:30 pm

Disagree. In this series, J-Rich has just been another inconsistent perimeter shooter who can’t guard Joe one on one. Redick can knock down 3’s and get burned by Joe just as well as J-Rich can. Zaza on the other hand is one of two effective Dwight defenders the Hawks have. With him out, a gimpy Collins becomes the only Hawk who can limit Dwight or force him into turnovers and/or offensive fouls. Advantage Magic.

Skeezix

April 23rd, 2011
7:31 pm

IF TURKOGLU DOESN’T PICK IT UP, THE HAWKS MAY WIN THIS THING.

Bull

April 23rd, 2011
7:36 pm

Zaza shoud not have been suspended. Dwight Howard whaled his fist backhanded against Zaza’s jaw and Zaza walked away only to have that other dude come over to get in his face.

Bull

April 23rd, 2011
7:37 pm

Advantage Magic.

Nate D

April 23rd, 2011
7:40 pm

Good stuff brad! We might actually make it to the finals! If we dont then we all know we need a center and move marvin to backup sf with pape sy all will need is a backup PF.

confusahawk

April 23rd, 2011
7:40 pm

This has always been the worst officiated sport. Whoever is overseeing the ref’s is a gutless SOS. At some point Josh needs to stay down low and get nasty tough. Go Hawks….

LakeDawg

April 23rd, 2011
7:59 pm

This might be a wash. Richardson was starting to warm up and I’ve been afraid he would go off. However, Zaza has been very effective against the “mauler” D. Howard.

LakeDawg

April 23rd, 2011
8:01 pm

J. Smoove could earn his keep now. Stay down low and take it straight at Howard. He might foul out, but who cares. He might get a few fouls on the “mauler.”

Gwinnett Fred

April 23rd, 2011
8:03 pm

Another reason I think the Hawks come out better is mentally.

Orlando will be grousing about how they got screwed, they lost a starter, etc. etc. and the team has no emotional tie to Richardson.

However, Zaza is a popular player for the Hawks and they can (and hopefully WILL) use his absence to get even more fired up “Win one for the Z” kind of a deal.

At least I hope so – cause as big as the Game 3 win was – I honestly feel the winner of Game 4 winds up taking the series.

LakeDawg

April 23rd, 2011
8:16 pm

Gwinnett Fred…I think you’re right. Game 4 winner takes it.

Eric

April 23rd, 2011
8:30 pm

This scares me, now Orlando will go with JJ who is starting to heat up.This also means that Agent 0 will get some minutes and what if he starts to hit. Hawks must put the stake in the heart Sunday.

Techster

April 23rd, 2011
8:33 pm

Disagree. Zaza, along with Horford, are basically the heart and soul of this team. No he doesn’t score the most points or grab the most boards, but he doesn’t disappear in big games, he doesn’t quit, he doesn’t get intimidated, and he always plays hard. How many of the other Hawks can say that? I fear a letdown by the Hawks and can see Howard having a huge night.

Mike Jay

April 23rd, 2011
8:40 pm

I’m in the it’s a wash camp. nobody can guard Howard but Zsa Zsa gets under his skin and makes him do stupid things. Richardson has had little to no impact this series. Negative more then anything. I guess he might the best available to guard JJ but he is capable of disappearing all on his own. Iknow I’ll personally miss Zsa Zsa a great deal. he plays 110$ and wit ha ton of heart. out of control sometimes but maximum effort every minute. Wish the rest of the team played more liek him.

Mike Jay

April 23rd, 2011
8:42 pm

Opps. Sorry abotu the sloppy typing. Easter Bunny came early and he left me soem 90 proof treats!

James on Pharr Rd

April 23rd, 2011
8:46 pm

Zaza’s value in the playoffs doesn’t come up on the stats sheet or scouting report. He shoots free throws very well for a Big, His ability to get the crowd involved is a big plus for us, and then his fouls are pretty annoying to the opponent and sometimes force Dwight and Bass to jack up quick shots. That being said Richardson was due for a big game, he’ll have to wait it out till game 5. Advantage Magic though….

James on Pharr Rd

April 23rd, 2011
8:55 pm

My biggest surprise of this series has been with The Turk. I had picked the Magic to do what the Hawks are doing all the way up to the conference finals. But, for someone that made his name as a difficult cover in the playoffs, he has proven to be quite a bust since that big Toronto contract that Ottis wisely refused to give him. (Ironic he would re-sign him)

Something important to note as well, is the Magic’s play has been much like the Hawks inconsistency in the last 2 years (remember the Finals Conf loss to BOS last year) Take away their coaching advantage in SVG, they are the Atlanta Hawks with decent talent: which makes me wonder if a coach is all we need here to make that big step.

Shiraz

April 23rd, 2011
9:27 pm

its an Atlanta website, not surprised for redneck hawks bias
–from Raleigh, NC

Magic FTW

April 23rd, 2011
10:06 pm

I’m seeing some Q.Rich down at 2 and Earl Clark at 3. Good ole’ E.Clark is scared of no one and I watched him stuff Durant, LBJ, guard Kobe, etc. We need more Clark and maybe this will finally force Stan to make some good personnel calls.

Mr. Dumb Redneck

April 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm

You’re writing from Raleigh, NC and you’re calling someone else a redneck? That’s pretty hypocritical.

Redneck Hawk

April 23rd, 2011
10:26 pm

Haha Shiraz, sorry for your bitter jealousy. You know, with the local state team not making the playoffs and what-not. What’s with all these outsiders invading our board anyway?