There really is nothing more productive Orlando can do than get stops. The Hawks shot an efficient (for them) 51.4 percent from the floor and 55.4 percent effective field goal percentage, way up from their 46.2 percent shooting and 50.1 effective field goal percentage. In all likelihood the Hawks will shoot worse in Tuesday’s game as they fall to their mean.
However, even though Atlanta hit some very difficult shots the majority of the team’s looks were largely uncontested. Orlando just got beat whether it was Atlanta trying to get Jamal Crawford free off a curl or Al Horford or Joe Johnson working the post. The Hawks got where they wanted with little resistance.
The Magic are definitely at a size disadvantage. Johnson generally had free reign against J.J. Redick whenever he was in and could bully his way around Jason Richardson. Seeing as this is the Playoffs, Orlando should look to play with a little more physicality and trying to set a more physical tone.
“What we’ve got to do, I think, is do a better job taking away their space to get the pull ups,” Stan Van Gundy said Sunday. ”We’ve got to get our help to them a little bit earlier and try to keep them out on the perimeter.”
Dwight Howard is going to do his thing. But it almost felt like at times, the Magic were deferring their defensive responsibilities to Howard. The only problem is Atlanta is not a team that gets to the basket, and moreso when Howard is in the paint.
Atlanta took 14 shots at the rim, which is not so bad considering how bad Orlando played defensively. But the Hawks made 13 of 27 shots from 16-23 feet, according to HoopData. This is, by and large, the shot the Magic want to give up because it is a difficult shot that is worth only two points. It is the least efficient shot on the floor. The Magic, who played so poorly offensively, made only 2 of 10. I do not think you will see very many games where a team wins shooting 20 shots from this range.
“Even the 51 percent was deceptive because going into the fourth they were at 58 percent and that’s when the game was decided,” Van Gundy said. “They really had their way with us and we’ve got to be a lot better defensively, no matter what we do offensively.”
But the Hawks might be the exception to that rule. Atlanta averaged 23.6 field goal attempts per game from 16-23 feet according to HoopData and hit on 43.8 percent of their field goal attempts. This would mean the Hawks shot slightly above average on these shots.
Remember, this is the shot most defenses want to give up. Yet, it is the shot perhaps Atlanta is best at taking. And it is not like Atlanta is taking many of these shots as spot-ups. Most of them come off the dribble. This is where Van Gundy said the Hawks really hurt the Magic as they got only eight layups. Atlanta is not a team really looking to get to the rim a lot.
This makes it key for Orlando to frustrate their rhythm. Being a little more physical on the perimeter could help do that. The Magic don’t have the physical enforcer that they had the last few years. But that does not mean Orlando should shy away from playing physical defense. Orlando has to be willing to throw the first punch in Game Two and put Atlanta on its heels.
“If we’re going to have to score 105 or 106 points every night to win, then we’re going to be in trouble,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve got to do a lot better job on the defensive end.”
The Magic will certainly be working on their defensive rotations. Guys have to do a better job packing the paint and closing down driving lanes and being available to help if there is penetration.
Photo via DayLife. Additional reporting by Carlos Pineda.