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Tag:2011 Hawks-Magic
Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 3:38 pm
 

Series Reset: Atlanta has to keep up

The Hawks took out the Magic in every phase of the game except guarding Dwight Howard. What trends are we seeing as the series moves forward Tuesday night?
Posted by Matt Moore




The Narrative:   The Magic likely assumed they would win because they're the better team and because Atlanta has been so mediocre over the past two seasons, especially down the stretch. But somewhere in there, they overlooked the matchup advantages that Atlanta enjoys in this series. Dwight Howard is not a matchup problem, he's a fact of life. The Hawks are going to lose that battle no matter what. He's the best center in the league. Atlanta's matchup advantages come in lesser known areas. Like Josh Smith versus whatever slow, perimeter-based forward the Magic want to put on him. Or how well Kirk Hinrich matches up with Jameer Nelson (despite his 27 points, a good chunk of which were not defended by Hinrich). Orlando has to figure out a way to get the entire offense involved. They didn't in Game 1, and they sunk to the bottom of the sea even as Dwight Howard demolished everything in his path. Unless they get equal contributions from the other players, the Hawks may just resign themselves to getting dunked on while keeping the perimeter in check. 

The Hook: The Atlanta Hawks took 24 shots at the rim, or within nine feet of the rim . They took 27 shots from 16-23 feet. They were efficient down low, don't get me wrong, shooting 63 percent in that area, but they took an obscene amount of shots from mid-range. And, while they made 48 percent from that distance, that's simply not something you can count on in any basketball game. I mean, look at Al Horford's shot chart for crying out loud. 



(Click on the image for more from our GameTracker, Game 1 .)

That's just not production you can count on. Or is it? Horford shot 53 percent from the field in the regular season from 16-23 feet . If the Magic keep letting him hit from space, Horford's going to eventually force them out, which opens up passing lanes. This is a pretty big concern. That's five of their 13 makes from range right there. You have to think the Hawks will try and even out their production at some point, but they may want to take their chances with what worked in Game 1.


The Adjustment: According to Synergy Sports , you know how many pick and roll plays the Magic ran? 31. You know how many wound up in the hands of the roll man? None. Zip, zero, zilch. That makes Dwight Howard's night more impressive, but it also means a few things. One, if you go back and watch, the Hawks are closing two to three defenders on Howard or whoever the roll man is. Two, that adjustment means that the Magic, had they opted to, would have had an open shooter off the second pass on the pick, drive and kick. But instead, they just launched. Nelson comes off the screen, he kicks out, catch and shoot. Except that they were rushing all those shots. They had the opportunity to spin the ball when the Hawks started to try and recover, but instead just let it fly. The result? Brick city. 

The Magic are at their best not when they're just launching threes, but when they're actually creating stupendously open shots from their ball rotation. That's how they beat the Celtics and Cavaliers in 2009, and going away from that strategy in 2010 hurt them, as it's hurting them now. They have experienced, competent passers and shooters on the perimeter. The Magic need to slow down their decision making, not their pace, and work to create the best shot possible. Do that and their perimeter game will finally start to click. 

The X-Factor: Joe Johnson. Johnson should be the focal point of Orlando's defense, right? After all, he's their All-Star (along with Horford), and as close as it gets to a star player. Johnson went ISO 13 times in Game 1. He was 6 of 10 scoring, drew two fouls and had one turnover. The degree to which Atlanta puts Johnson in ISO tends to be a source of mockery for them, but you need someone to make tough buckets in the playoffs, and Johnson can do that when he's on. Furthermore, the Magic have nobody to guard him. Jason Richardson can't stick him, neither can J.J. Redick, Turkoglu, or the other wings. He's a nightmare, and when he's on, he can cause severe damage in a series. Just ask the Celtics. 

The Sticking Point: The Magic were knocked back defensively in Game 1. But this is one of the best defenses in the league. They were knocked back offensively. And they're one of the most dangerous offensive units. At home, down 1-0, you would expect things to get back on track. But this series has already shown a series of matchup problems for the Magic. Joe Johnson said after Game 1 that this isn't the same team they faced last year at all. And that much has become apparent, when you look at the player-versus-player breakdown. But, overall team strength has to come into play at some point, and the tug-of-war between those two elements will likely end up decidiing this series. 


Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Ranking the NBA Playoffs opening weekend games

Ranking the Game 1s in an epic opening weekend of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. 
Posted by Matt Moore




What a weekend, huh? The NBA's first round is often looked at with a "ho-hum" response most years. Not in 2011. The opening weekend we had three upsets, two near-upsets, and the other three games were close right down to the finish. It may have been the best opening weekend of the playoffs in league history. So we thought we'd look back and rank the eight Game 1s on a level of awesomeness. 

8. Miami 97 Philadelphia 89: Leave it to the Heat to give us the least interesting game of the weekend. It says a lot that the worst game of the weekend was one in which the 7th seed lead after the first quarter and made a serious run in the 4th before falling to the power of Wade. This one suffered from letdown, having to follow the Pacers-Bulls insanity of the opening game, and with the Heat grinding out a tough one against a feisty Sixers team, the playoff intensity didn't really shine through, no matter how much Chris Bosh (rightfully) yelled. 

7. Atlanta 103 Orlando 93: Again, how amazing is it when a game where Dwight Howard scores 45 points isn't even in the top half of the games? Howard was incredible, and watching the Hawks' energy was really infectious, but the game itself wasn't as compelling. The Magic's shooting, combined with the Hawks casual dominance, was enough to overcome the thrill factor of watching Howard dominate in what would have been a classic performance. This series looks like it might be mighty interesting overall, but matched up against the insanity of the top, it didn't hold. 

6. Dallas 89 Portland 81: A good game of runs, featuring a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Mavs behind a vintage Dirk Nowitzki clutch performance. The Blazers had about fifty alley-oops in this one, and the game featured a Jason Kidd 3-point barrage for crying out loud. It had everything you look for in a classic, right down to a series of questionable calls that will probably get the visiting coach fined for his post-game comments. The Mavericks hang on, but everyone has to think this is going to be a long, great series based off of Game 1. 

5. New Orleans 109 Los Angeles 100: The defending champs, the second seed in the West, falls to a seventh seed team without its second best player behind one of the best point guard performances in recent history, and it's not even in the top half. This one would have been higher if the Lakers had made any effort whatsoever. They did not. A truly pathetic defensive effort individually, systemically, categorically from the Lakers. It was exciting due to the Hornets pulling off a huge upset. But the game itself was a massive conglomeration of defensive fail by the Lakers. Now, if we're ranking top performances of the Game 1s? Paul's got a case for the top spot. 

4. Oklahoma City 107 Denver 103: Maybe the best played game of the opening weekend. It was an offensive slugfest where every time a team thought they had made the play to put the other one away, the opponent would respond. An incredible effort from Kevin Durant (41 points, 9 rebounds) who was simply unstoppable, and a heroic game from Nene, fighting off a knee injury to nearly push the Nuggets to the win. It came down to a series of tough, tough shots from the Thunder and a questionable non-call. If it weren't for the drama of the top three, this would have easily taken the top spot. 

3. Memphis 101 San Antonio 98: The 8th seed gets a win versus the top seed in the West, earning their first ever franchise win with a Shane Battier 3-pointer and a last second miss from Richard Jefferson.  The actual game featured a ton of free throws, but it also featured scrappy play, great aggression on the perimeter, vintage Tim Duncan, and brilliant interior offense from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The world didn't know who the Grizzlies were on Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon they had a pretty good look. 

2. Chicago 104 Indiana 99: The team with the worst record in the playoffs leads all the way until the very end, when the presumptive MVP leads a furious 16-1 comeback run capped off by a drive-and-kick assist to the little-known crack 3-point assassin for the win, destroying what would have been one of the biggest Game 1 upsets in history. What more can you say about Derrick Rose? What more can you say about how heartbreaking the game was for the Pacers? What more can you ask for in the first game of an incredible weekend? The Bulls' defensive effort was severely lacking, the Pacers' offense was impressively on target. It had all the makings of a magical upset. And yet the cliches come a-running in. Big-time players make big-time plays. Derrick Rose made the plays. 

1. Boston 87 New York 85: I assure you this isn't big-market bias. You can check my zipcode if you want proof of that. This game had everything. The juggernaut struggling to get its feet under it. The impressive upset bid from the upstart New York team. The defending Eastern Conference champs buckling down and doing what they do best, creating opportunities for borderline calls and turnovers, then crunching down on shooting percentages. Amar'e Stoudemire takes KG to the rack. The twisting layup. Toney Douglas' step-back 3-pointer. And of course, Ray Allen, Ray Allen, Ray Allen. Throw in the dramatics of Carmelo Anthony's failures and how close the Knicks came towards that big step forward and you've got the best Game 1 in a weekend full of them. 

Let us know where we screwed up in the comments. 
Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 4:16 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Buzz 4.18.11: Wade's status and more

Posted by Matt Moore
  • Roddy Beaubois' status for Game 2 is still up in the air. He shot at practice for the Mavs Monday, but it's unknown as to if he will play. Caron Butler, who has really focused on getting back for the postseason, has expanded his workouts to more intense shooting but it's still unclear as to if he'll be able to make a return this postseason.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:02 pm
 

NBA Playoff Buzz 4.17.11

Posted by EOB Staff 

Continuing updates throughout the day on playoff miscelanea.  

  • The Hawks' Joe Johnson says that the Magic are a "totally different team" from when they faced them last year in the playoffs. That's true from a lot of perspectives, but that might be used as bulletin board material. They are, literally a different team in terms of roster, so, there's that. 
  • Wild sequence to end the first half in Los Angeles. Kobe went down and appeared to hit his head on a fan's knee, then Chris Paul drained a 3. THEN Ron Artest hit a halfcourt shot while everyone was looking at Kobe. Here's the video of it.
  • The Palm Beach Post reports that Mike Miller's thumb injury could be "worse than the team, or he, has been letting on." Miller only said “Not touching that” and "we'll make it through.”
  • During the first quarter of Game 1 between the Lakers and Hornets, Lisa Salters said that Kobe Bryant told her "I used to beat up a lot of kids even in high school who used to tease my friends because they were gay." This was a follow up to a recent controversy in which Bryant used an anti-gay slur in reference to a referee that drew a $100,000 fine from the NBA.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies secured their first ever franchise victory by downing the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Here's video of a clutch Shane Battier three that pushed Memphis over the top. The win comes much to the delight of Memphis Grizzlies fans who gathered at the FedEx Forum for a viewing party. Here's a picture of the group ... that appears to number about 40 people.
  • San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, always known for his zingers, says on the TNT broadcast that Kevin McHale, working the color commentary for Spurs/Grizzlies, "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about." 
  • Grizzlies-Spurs underway without Manu, as reported yesterday. Memphis with an early lead, but it's been really physical. 
  • Tony Allen suffered a calf strain against the Spurs in the second quarter. His return is probable . The Spurs' side of the floor has seen a ton of slips by both teams. They need towels.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:46 am
 

NBA Playoffs First Round Saturday Wrap-Up

Click on each photo for our coverage on Saturday's first-round playoff games. 





Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:47 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: Howard not enough

Dwight Howard has a historic performance... and it wasn't enough as the Hawks take Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore




In 2007, Kobe Bryant scored the following point totals in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns: 39, 15, 45, 31, 34. The Lakers lost in five. They managed to push the Suns to seven games the year before, but still fell. And the strategy was more than apparent, and is what led the Lakers to become so aggressive the following year. And, it's what nearly cost them Kobe Bryant in a trade demand before Andrew Bynum developed and Pau Gasol was delivered for $1.50 and some lint. The strategy was simple: Kobe gets his, no one else does. They essentially surrendered bucket after bucket to Mamba (before he was called that) and shut down his underwhelming, unworthy teammates. It became a standard approach in the league in guarding Bryant, until he wound up with Pau Gasol, Andre Bynum at full strength, Derek Fisher came back and Lamar Odom's head got screwed on. Then everyone was just doomed (hence the two titles).

More on Hawks at Magic
 
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On Saturday night, the Atlanta Hawks employed the same strategy on Dwight Howard, and the result was eerily similar in the Hawks' 103-93 win over Orlando . Howard scored 31 in the first half, and finished with 46. He had 19 rebounds. And the Magic lost. In the first half, the Magic went to Howard consistently. In part because the Hawks were helpless to stop him. You name the defender, we can show the highlight. Jason Collins. Zaza Pachulia. Even Etan Thomas got a turn (and a vicious block from Howard). Howard hit the whole array. Alley-oops. Offensive rebound put-backs. Hook shots. Jumpers. The works. But in part, the Magic went to Howard as consistently because the rest of the team was a bunch of popsicles. It was a truly terrible offensive performance for a team that relies on its shooting. 

So when the second half came around, the Hawks went to a different approach. They started fouling Howard more aggressively. Howard finished the first half 8-9 from the line. There was literally no way to stop him. Second half? 6-13. That's seven more points he left on the board. The Magic still would have lost, but it should be noted, because that was a subtle correction the Hawks made. Let Howard do whatever he wants for 24 minutes while you focus on getting the shooters out of rhythm. Then make him earn it at the line in the second half. Throw in some frustrating physical play that led to Howard's first technical, and it was one of the most disappointing 45-point playoff performances in NBA playoff history. Disappointing for Howard, not because of him. There wasn't much more Howard could have done. We can point out the missed free throws, but Howard still hit 64% of his shots from the stripe. But to have that kind of a performance and lose? Unheard of. 

As a matter of fact, in 20 years, no player has dropped 45 points and 19 rebounds in the playoffs. Howard was the first. And he still wound up with the L.




The loss was a complicated combination of the Magic's supporting players having an outright miserable performance, Kirk Hinrich having a better-than-expected game, and Josh Smith dominating a matchup we thought he would . The Magic have to improve on offense, defense, in transition, in the half-court and in terms of composure. Dwight Howard did everything he could, the Magic have to step up in support.

Oh, and one last thing before notes. In 2009, the Magic put themselves on the NBA map by downing the Celtics and then the best team in the East that season, the Cleveland Cavaliers. They did so by letting LeBron James go off for whatever he wanted, and shutting down all the rest of the Cavaliers. The Magic got a strong dose of that in Game 1 vs. the Hawks. 

A few other notes: 

  • Kirk Hinrich finished with a quiet 13 points on 6-10 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. But his impact was so much bigger. Even with Jameer Nelson going off for 20 points in the third quarter, Hinrich played excellent defense, knocked down shots, and prevented Nelson from dominating the matchup like he did against the Hawks in 2010. 
  • Jamal Crawford was 4-7 from the arc, including a dagger at the end of the game with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. 
  • Jason Richardson: 4 points on 2-8 shooting, 0-4 from the arc. The word there is: curtains. 
  • The Magic can survive Josh Smith abusing its forwards. They can handle Al Horford dismantling their forwards from range. They can't handle both. 

Posted on: April 16, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2011 9:51 pm
 

Magic C Dwight Howard draws Game 1 technical

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard drew a technical foul in Game 1 of his team's first round NBA playoffs series. Posted by Ben Golliver.

We've spent a good part of the second half of the season lamenting the fact that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard just doesn't get it when it comes to technical fouls. Howard, enabled by his coach Stan Van Gundy, has convinced himself he's a target for hard fouls of opposing players and the recipient of some unfair whistles from unsympathetic officials.

That may be true, but Howard has a permanent blind eye to his own behavior, which alternates between baby-ish and unnecessarily physical. Howard's act earned him 18 technical fouls during the regular season -- costing him two games worth of suspensions without pay -- and, on Saturday, it was the same old story during Game 1 of Orlando's first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

With his team trailing 68-54 midway through the third quarter, Howard lost contact with Hawks center Zaza Pachulia as he looked to provide help defense, and Pachulia smartly turned that into inside rebounding position once the shot went up. Howard, already with three fouls, decided the best course of action was to hack Pachulia from behind to prevent the putback lay-up attempt. Howard executed the hard foul but followed through with extra force -- for no apparent reason -- causing Pachulia to fall to the ground and leading the baseline referee to instantly assess a technical foul for the action.

Here's a look at the sequence.



The Hawks held off the Magic, 103-93.

It's unclear if anything or anyone will ever be able to get through to Howard regarding his on-court behavior and decision-making. As it stands, Howard is the league's most unstoppable force as he proved by putting up a playoff career-high 46 points and 19 rebounds. Imagine how good he would be if he didn't self-handicap so frequently.
Posted on: April 16, 2011 8:28 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2011 9:12 pm
 

Dwight Howard scores 31 in first half vs. Hawks

Dwight Howard scores 31 points in the first half against Hawks in Game 1.
Posted by Matt Moore

Dwight Howard finished the first half against the Hawks on Saturday night with 31 points. Thirty-one. Thirty, and then one more. The rest of the Magic had 17 points. Howard had nearly twice the total of his entire team. Which is partially why the Magic trail at the half to Atlanta. It was pretty good. 







The Magic fed Howard, and he delivered. But defensively, Kirk Hinrich is finishing off Jameer Nelson with an array of step back jumpers. The Hawks have played Jason Collins, Zaza Pachulia, and Josh Powell on Howard, but haven't stuck Al Horford on him. Which is odd, because Horford actually surprisingly does play Howard well and manages not to foul. The Hawks have a lead at the half, but if Howard keeps up this kind of production, is there any way the Hawks can win?

They keep shooting 55% and yeah, they've got a good chance. 

Follow along with Magic-Hawks here


Some thoughts from our Twitter followers on what the Hawks should do in the second half to slow down Howard: 

"Use a taser." 

"Do nothing, ur winning, let Dwight take every shot and not allow the other guys to get going"

"PRAY!"

"Bill Russell."

"Mix in some zone to keep multiple bodies around Howard and protect Horford from getting in foul trouble."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com