Tag:2011 NBA Playoffs
Posted on: April 20, 2011 2:47 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:15 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: Game 2 Reactions

Reactions from around the web from Hawks-Magic Game 2. 
Posted by Matt Moore



In the second half, Atlanta tried everything to make up the deficit.

After sitting out for most of the first half, it was clear that Larry Drew was going to try everything in his power to get Al Horford involved offensively. Larry Drew did just that, as he immediately called for Horford to get the basketball on the low block-and-go to work against Brandon Bass. However, even though Bass got beat a few times, he put up a great stand against Horford defensively and held his ground more often than not. Horford is a strong player, no question about it, but Bass’ lower-body strength allowed him to dig in the trenches. Horford tried all that he could to overwhelm Bass, but he couldn’t do it.
via Recap: Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 82 | Magic Basketball .

This turn of events was really significant. When the mid-range jumpers were failing in the first half, Drew turned to Horford in the block. The Magic even brought help but Horford was rightfully focused on taking Bass on offense (he should have been able to based on scouting reports) and couldn't kick start the perimeter rotation. Not that the Hawks run any sort of perimeter ball movement, but even the theoretical was thwarted. Horford has to be a huge factor in this series if Howard's not guarding or spying him weak-side. He's got  to produce as he did in Game 1, even if that means using the mid-range jumper. It was a good example of the Magic's improved defense on the night. 
Orlando's head coach used only Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu at point guard after halftime, leaving Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon benched. The decision forced the usually gun-shy Turkoglu to play more aggressively, and though he missed 12 of his 16 shots, he a least ran the offense well and made proper passes. The 6-foot-10 matchup nightmare dished 5 of the Magic's 9 assists, with just 1 turnover, in splitting his 39 minutes between small forward and point guard. If Gilbert Arenas, who's struggled mightily since coming to Orlando in a midseason trade with the Washington Wizards, is out of the Magic's rotation, you bet your sweet behind that's news. For what it's worth, Arenas shot 1-of-3 from the field, with 1 rebound and 1 turnover, in 6 minutes.
via Orlando Magic 88, Atlanta Hawks 83 - Orlando Pinstriped Post .
Turkoglu had a fantastic game for a guy who shot 4-16 from the field. A shortening of rotations is expected in the playoffs, but an abandonment of Arenas is pretty big. That makes Arenas a $17 million towel-waver. But you also can't blame SVG for going this route. Turkoglu has the best pick and roll chemistry with Howard. In Game 1, the Magic ran zero plays for the pick-and-roll with the ball going to the roll man. In Game 2, they ran four such plays, with three to Dwight Howard. The result? Foul drawn, layup and-one, dunk. The Magic ran those plays in the first half. They did not return to them in the second half. The Magic do run sets out of the pick and roll to the post for Howard, but with Howard's physical and athletic talents, you have to ponder at why in the name of Brian Hill the Magic don't go to that set more often. 
In Game 2, the Hawks shot much worse and had a chance to win despite Larry Drew. It was a terribly wasted opportunity but, if Drew can either commit to playing his best players until they are disqualified or not play his worst players until absolutely necessary, the Hawks, in possession of home court advantage, can still conceivably win this series. Which is rather amazing considering they were outscored over the course of the 82 game season and their head coach either didn't try his hardest or proved himself obscenely incompetent in one half of their playoff games.
via Hoopinion: Atlanta Hawks analysis. Run on pessimism and truth.: Orlando Magic 88 Atlanta Hawks 82 .

There was a lot of talk about the rotations. Collins didn't play much. Horford was sat with two fouls until the half and finished with two fouls as noted by Hoopinion. But the bigger question in my mind was why, in a series where the Hawks have such advantages in terms of the athletic personnel like Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford who can play big and in space, the Hawks are slowing the ball down. The question came to me after Game 2. If you flipped coaching staffs in this series, even with Dwight Howard the best overall player in the series, wouldn't the Hawks be an overwhelming favorite? If the Hawks had any semblance of discipline and systemic value with this roster as constructed, wouldn't this look like a clear advantage for the Hawks in terms of matchups and overall ability? 

If the Hawks win this series, it's going to seem like they did so despite Larry Drew, not because of him. That's how it's played out in the first two games. 
The bigger issue was losing Al Horford. He drew two fouls in the first two minutes and Drew made the curious decision — as he has all season — to sit Horford out for the remainder of the half. When Horford got back into game in the second half, he looked out of rhythm and didn’t hit his first bucket until the fourth. The Hawks were outrebounded 52-39. Orlando had 20 offensive boards — most of those when Horford was on the bench.

“I got taken out of the game quick in the first half — I feel like that affected us,” Horford said. “They had 16 offensive rebounds in the first half. That’s something I have to be more conscious about. I was out of rhythm. It took me a while to get going. The team played well but we just missed some shots.”
via Hawks lose to Magic but prove something in process | Jeff Schultz .

Here's an interesting one. The Hawks had 13 rebounds and 15 second-chance points. The Magic had 20 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points. So the Hawks were actually more effective when they did get offensive rebounds than the Magic were. But the question still has to be asked. 

What are you saving Al Horford for? Horford's not a streak shooter you want available late. He's the consistent, productive, efficient player that anchors the team and can prevent them from turning into the ISO-heavy disaster they are so often on offense. Two fouls? This is the playoffs. You can't be timid with your best players' minutes. You have depth for a reason. Drew buried himself with this decision.
Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson woke up with a migraine headache on Tuesday morning, causing him to sit out shootaround and putting his status into question leading up to the Magic’s playoff game against the Hawks.

He went straight home after shootaround and laid down for several hours. Nelson took some medicine before declaring himself OK to play.

Nelson even considered wearing the migraine sunglasses Miami’s Dwyane Wade wore earlier this season, but “my teammates were laughing at me,” he said.

Asked how he felt a few minutes ago, Nelson said, “sleepy.”

He should be OK moving forward, but it’s at least something to monitor.
via Jameer Nelson played through migraine vs. Hawks – Orlando Magic BasketBlog – Orlando Sentinel .

This just makes Kirk Hinrich's night that much worse. The Magic played terrific defense. The fact that their starting point guard was having such pain and they still executed says a lot. It also speaks volumes about benching Duhon and Arenas. 
 


Posted on: April 20, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:06 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: A return of logic

Magic tie the series up with the Hawks by locking down. It's becoming clear this will be system vs. players to the death. 
Posted by Matt Moore




We told you in the Series Reset the Magic defense would likely get back on track, but the mismatches would remain in place. And, heavens to Betsy, we got one right. The Magic held the Hawks to 40 percent shooting; just 7-20 from the arc. The Magic won the rebounding battle 52-39. They gathered 43 percent of all available offensive rebounds. They earned 36 free throws compared to just 17 for the Hawks. 

They won by just six. 

Now, the important thing here is that they won. A loss would have buried them in an 0-2 hole going back to Atlanta. Even the Hawks' terrible home-court advantage couldn't keep them from a series win in that scenario. The Magic responded with a defensive firestorm in Game 2, and that, combined with a terrible shooting night for the Hawks, was enough to lift them to victory. If the Hawks' exceedingly high shooting percentages in Game 1 were an aberration, than Game 2 was one of those painful situations where everything they put up was either brilliantly defended or just rimmed off. But if you wanted a good indication of the impact the Magic's defense had... Go big and go fast. 

Go big.  The Magic obviously dominated the glass. Dwight Howard was in rare form again. Just as he did in Game 1, Howard dominated the glass, just ripping the ball out of the Hawks' paws. But more impactful was what he did to interior drive attempts. When the Hawks looped to the basket, Howard was there. Twice Joe Johnson posted Hedo Turkoglu, spun around him and had a very makeable high-glass floater. Twice he had to adjust to get it over Howard's outstretched arms, and the result was a miss. Offensively, the Magic didn't dominate the points in the paint -- it was only a 36-32 advantage for Orlando -- but the Hawks shot themselves in the foot by shooting just 50 percent from short range. A grind-it-out, tough game, where one side has a dominant performance from the best center in the league... That's good enough for a win. 




Go fast . The Magic's transition defense gets a gold star here. They cut off passing lanes, shut off driving lanes, and scummed up any chance for the Hawks to get out in transition. Not that the Hawks' really made a concerted effort. Too often the Hawks elected to settle down. You would think Larry Drew would recognize that the Hawks' biggest advantage is in getting away from Howard on the break and using their superior athleticism. You would think he'd recognize that, but you'd be wrong. Regardless, the Magic were disciplined and relentless. The Hawks had seven fast break points the entire game on 2-6 shooting. 

The Magic's offense? Still missing. The Hawks' matchup advantages? Still there (Josh Smith 17 points, Jamal Crawford 25 points). But the Magic reasserted some of their own with Jameer Nelson edging Kirk Hinrich (who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a submarine in the middle of a deep-sea trench Tuesday night). But systemically the Magic got what they needed. The Hawks got their win in Orlando and now head back to Atlanta. 

System vs. Personnel. The battle continues. We've told you again and again. This one is going to be long and tough. And even in a loss, you have to wonder if the momentum doesn't lie with Atlanta. 
Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 12:11 am
 

NBA Playoffs Knicks-Celtics: Rondo goes nova

Rajon Rondo scores a career-high 30 points in Celtics' win over the Knicks. Tough shots? Hardly. Light speed layups all night long. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Rajon Rondo's not a scorer, supposedly. He's a distributor and a defender, but not a scorer. He's scored 30 points or more in a game three times in his career . He had never scored 30 points in the playoffs until Tuesday night, when he dropped 30 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals in the Celtics' Melo-overcoming win .

Usually, when a player drops a 30-point line in the playoffs, it means someone hit a barrage of three-pointers, or had the pull-up mid-range jumper moving. But then, most times in the playoffs, a player isn't facing Toney Douglas in Mike D'Antoni's system. Rondo's attack was not a perimeter barrage. Take a look. 



For more on Tuesday night's Knicks-Celtics Game 2, check out our GameTracker

That nice square right in the center of the paint? That represents 20 of his 30 points. Rondo had a parade of layups in the first quarter, with Douglas at one point literally running the opposite direction on a break. Well, maybe parade isn't a fair term. A parade only passes through once, not five times. Rondo did have seven assists as well, putting in close to half the Celtics' total offense by himself either scoring or producing. 

Rondo's speed looked back to where it was early in the season, a gear that was mostly missing during the last half of the year. Post-game, Rondo told TNT the rest in between games helps. That could be a huge factor going forward, not just in this round, but in future rounds should the Celtics advance. Considering how close these first two games have been, and how close the Celtics have come to falling to the Knicks in both contests, Rondo's production is crucial. 

Just another point guard leading the way for his team in the 2011 playoffs with brilliant play after brilliant play. 
Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:12 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:01 am
 

Carmelo does his best LeBron impression in defeat

Carmlo Anthony does his best LeBron James impression during a loss to the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver.
carmelo-knicks-2

Stop me if this sounds familiar: A do-everything forward carries a cast of castoffs against a more talented opponent, knocking down shots from everywhere, pounding the glass when necessary and reading the defense brilliantly once the defense over-commits to stopping him. For years, that was the LeBron James biography in Cleveland, a series of spectacular and single-handed postseason performances that wound up just short due to the incompetency of his teammates.

With Amar'e Stoudemire nursing a sore back and Chauncey Billups out with a knee injury, the newest Knick, forward Carmelo Anthony, suddenly found himself in James' shoes. Facing the Boston Celtics in a must-win Game 2, Anthony found himself putting the likes of Roger Mason, Shawne Williams, Bill Walker and Anthony Carter on his back, turning in an eye-popping line of 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. Those are numbers, according to Basketball-Reference, that haven't been put up in a playoff game in more than 25 years.  (James is the only other player to go 40/10/5 in the last two years in the playoffs.)

Anthony scored in every way that you can score: knocking down threes, knocking down threes with a hand in his face, knocking down threes after being bumped, finishing at the rim, finishing at the rim in traffic, hitting the elbow jumper, hitting the elbow jumper with a hand in his face and, most importantly, he got to the free throw line (where he shot 10-11), something he had failed to do with any regularity in Game 1. Immediately, his shooting performance drew comparisons to Knicks legend Bernard King, and for once the reference wasn't a gross overstatement. 




The rebounds piled up because someone had to step up in Stoudemire's absence and Anthony wasn't going to wait around to see if any of his teammates were up to the challenge. In the end, the Knicks rebounded exceptionally well, killing Boston on the glass, 53-37, and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds. 

It was Anthony's passing, though, that will be the overlooked part of his masterpiece. Much like James has for years, Anthony threw some great, well-timed looks to cutting teammates once Boston started sending hard double teams his way. With just under six minutes, Anthony notched his last assist to Jared Jeffries, for a lay-up that put the Knicks up 86-84 and made the upset possibility feel very real.

Unfortunately, just like James, Anthony trusted his teammates just a little too much in the critical game-deciding sequence. Trailing 94-93 with 13 seconds to play, Anthony tried to force another pass to Jeffries after Celtics forwards Paul Pierce and Glen Davis double-teamed him. Unfortunately, Jared Jeffries is Jared Jeffries, and he bumped the ball underneath the hoop as Celtics forward Kevin Garnett converged. The pair hit the deck, Garnett emerged with the ball and Boston called timeout. The Knicks never even got off a potential game-winning attempt.

Here's a look at the sequence.



The Knicks now fall behind the Celtics 2-0 in the series after dropping Game 2, 96-93. Stoudemire's status is uncertain, Billups is heading for an MRI and Anthony's royal effort was wasted. Despite the fact that the first two games both game down to the final seconds, it's difficult to imagine the Celtics failing to advance. James knows that feeling well.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 10:34 pm
 

Amar'e Stoudemire leaves Game 2 with back spasms

New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire left Game 2 against the Boston Celtics with back spasms and did not return. Posted by Ben Golliver. amare-stoudemire

New York Knicks All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire leads his team in rebounds, blocks and is its second-leading scorer while also serving as its heart, soul and mouthpiece. Unfortunately, Stoudemire was confined to the bench for the entire second half of Game 2 of a first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics due to back spasms.

Stoudemire, who signed with the Knicks last summer, has been the popular face of the franchise, leading New York to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004 and to a winning record for the first time since 2000-2001. At the 3:21 mark of the second quarter, though, Stoudemire called mercy, and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni motioned for his team to foul to stop the game action so that he could remove Stoudemire from the game. At the time of his injury, the Knicks trailed the Celtics, 38-37.

Stoudemire left the court to receive treatment and he was initially listed as "questionable" to return. During third quarter, that diagnosis changed to "out" for the remainder of the game. 

Following the game, the New York Post reported that Stoudemire "doesn't know'' whether he will be able to play during Friday's Game 3 but is hopeful."  The paper also noted that Stoudemire has "never had back spasms before" and that Stoudemire first starting feeling pain when he was "dunking in warmups."

The loss of Stoudemire comes just hours after Knicks guard Chauncey Billups said he will undergo an MRI on his left knee after a strain kept him out of Game 2 action. It goes without saying that losing either Stoudemire or Billups -- let alone both -- would be crippling for New York's chances to advance against the favored Celtics, who already lead the series, 1-0. Stoudemire, especially, is irreplaceable, as no one else on New York's roster can approximate his combination of athleticism, strength and overall skill.

It's worth noting that Stoudemire was incredibly durable this season, appearing in 78 games and playing 36.8 minutes per night. He finished the season with averages of 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 6:14 pm
 

Knicks PG Billups (knee) to undergo MRI

New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups will undergo an MRI on his left knee. Posted by Ben Golliver.

On Sunday, we noted that New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups left Game 1 with a left knee strain, an injury that kept him out of practice on Monday and will officially keep him out of Game 2 on Tuesday night. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that "Billups says when he took off on his left leg, it 'buckled. ... It just kind of gave out on me.'" 

CSNNE.com reports that Billups will undergo an MRI on his knee on Wednesday. "Of course there's concern," Billups told CSNNE.com. "Tomorrow, hopefully I'll have a better idea of what's going on."

The MSG Network also reported that Billups "is walking MUCH better, feels better but told me he'll have an MRI tomorrow in NY." Earlier Tuesday, ESPNNY.com reported that the Knicks said Billups would not undergo an MRI. It's unclear what changed their mind.

In Billups' place, the Knicks will turn to Toney Douglas, a second-year guard out of Florida State who is averaging 10.6 points and 3.0 assists this year.

Here's another look at the play in which Billups sustained his injury.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Series Reset: Can Portland bounce back?

We reset the Blazers-Mavericks series with Game 2 ready to tip Tuesday night. Can Portland bounce back in the Big D? Posted by Ben Golliver.

blazers-mavs1


The Narrative:

Dirk Nowitzki's big fourth quarter -- including 13-13 from the free throw line -- did Portland in during Game 1. Blazers coach Nate McMillan was left to gripe about the officiating afterwards, earning himself a big fine from the league office. On Tuesday, though, it was Dallas's turn to be up in arms about the referees, as longtime franchise nemisis, Danny Crawford, is set to be the Game 2 crew chief. As ESPNDallas.com points out , the Mavericks are just 2-16 in playoff games that Crawford has officated. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has refused to comment (so far).

The Hook:

Game 1 did not play out as expected : Nowitzki struggled from the field, Jason Kidd exploded for a season-high and both Jason Terry and Gerald Wallace were virtually invisible. About the only things that went according to plan were LaMarcus Aldridge's continued dominance of his Mavs defenders (27 points and six rebounds) and the lackluster shooting from Portland's guards (Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez combined to shoot 4-13, and Portland shot 2-16 overall from three-point land). If there's a big concern for Portland, it's that shooting. The slow-tempo Blazers had to love that neither team cracked 90 points in Game 1, but desperately need a third scoring option to emerge to take pressure off of Aldridge and point guard Andre Miller

That person figures to be Gerald Wallace, who was out-of-sync in Game 1, and had trouble finding space and touches as Dallas's defense packed it in. Wallace has talked about the need for upping the tempo , but what he really means is that Portland needs to win the turnover battle (each team had 13 in game one) and convert some easy buckets in transition. Wallace is a star in the open court and a few runouts off of steals or one-man fast breaks off of defensive rebounds can change momentum in a hurry. 

The Adjustment:

The must-watch strategic decision will be how many minutes Blazers guard Brandon Roy plays. For most of the last month, Roy's playing time has hovered between 15 and 20 minutes as he's been tasked with being a facilitator off Portland's bench. In Game 1, though, McMillan chose to ride Roy for virtually all of the fourth quarter. The move didn't work. Roy's production -- 1-7 shooting -- was in line with his recent struggles (he shot 33% in April). Meanwhile, Portland's starting two guard, Wesley Matthews, sat watching on the bench without ever impacting the game. While Matthews is wise and mature beyond his years, he's still a second-year player with consistency issues; McMillan's Game 1 rotation sent a fairly clear message that he didn't feel that Matthews could be counted upon at that moment. Was that a one-time thing? If so, how will Matthews respond? 

Does McMillan re-think that decision and go back to using Matthews down the stretch? It's something he's done for most of the spring and which has paid dividends in big games, like when Matthews picked Manu Ginobili to help set up a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the San Antonio Spurs in March. Or, does he decide to ride or die with Roy, a player who has had playoff success but who has also admitted that his struggles are "mental"? No one can know for certain, and it's unclear whether McMillan is planning that decision in advance or waiting to see how the early stages of Game 2 play out.

The X-Factor:

Terry, Dallas's second-leading scorer during the regular season at 15.8 points per game, continues his struggles against the Blazers. He reached his season average just once in four regular season games against Portland and scored just 10 points in Game 1, with five of those coming on late free throws. That Terry would only attempt five shots in 27 minutes is eye-opening, but it's also a product of Kidd frequently calling his own number. Kidd was red hot in Game 1 -- going off for six three-pointers and 24 points -- and that's not a performance we'll likely see in back-to-back games. With J.J. Barea also struggling and Rodrigue Beaubois set to be a game-time decision, Terry simply must produce for Dallas. Otherwise, the offense will be imbalanced and Nowitzki will be swarmed liked mad. 

The Sticking Point:

With so many veterans playing big minutes and so little production coming from each team's bench in Game 1, a major sticking point to watch for the rest of the series is whether both coaches tighten their rotations, applying even more pressure on their stars and elder statesmen. McMillan is playing just eight guys while Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle played nine. How McMillan divvies up playing time for Aldridge (who played 41 minutes), center Marcus Camby (29 minutes) Andre Miller (34 minutes) and Gerald Wallace (39 minutes) will be the place to start. It's quite possible all four of those players see more time in Game 2, pending foul trouble of course. For Dallas, unless Barea steps up, the temptation will be to ride Nowitzki (39 minutes), Kidd (34 minutes) and Tyson Chandler (32 minutes) even harder as well. 

Who, if anyone, breaks first under the strain of additional playing time? And at what point in the series does it happen?
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. 


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com