Game 3: Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks


The Atlanta Hawks gave a much better effort in Game 2 on Thursday night but still came up with the short end of the stick, losing to the Orlando Magic 112-98 and falling behind 2-0 in their best of seven series. The Hawks hope that returning to Atlanta with the home crowd behind them will help them get back into this series.

Tip-off from Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. EST. The game will be aired by ESPN.  If you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it on AM 580 WDBO.

The officials for the game will be Dan Crawford, Ed Malloy and Eddie F. Rush.

The Line: Orlando – 2.0


Atlanta Hawks

Al Horford

Josh Smith

Marvin Williams

Joe Johnson

Mike Bibby

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard

Rashard Lewis

Matt Barnes

Vince Carter

Jameer Nelson

The Atlanta Hawks played much better in Game 2 on Thursday but it still wasn’t enough. They hung with the Magic for three quarters before Orlando dominated the fourth quarter with good, sound defense and an offense led by Vince Carter, operating primarily out of the pick-and-roll.

Atlanta’s pick-and-roll defense, which has been awful this season, was the main topic of conversation after Game 2. The Hawks switch on every screen and this strategy has not worked at all. Carter exploited the Hawks’ defense by easily getting to the basket on the switch or finding a shooter on the perimeter with an open look.

It’s been said that the Hawks may need to play a near perfect game to beat the Magic but Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy quickly dispelled that notion.

“No, I don’t think it takes anything near a perfect game,” Van Gundy said. “I wish it did, because I don’t think anybody can play one.”

The Hawks hope that the comfort of Phillips Arena will help them get back into this series. They went just 19-22 on the road but were 34-7 at home this season.

“I know they (Hawks fans) will be into it,” Jamal Crawford said. “We have some of the best fans in the league.”

Game 3 on the road in the NBA playoffs is one of the most difficult games to win. The Magic trailed at the half before rallying to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 90-86 in Game 3 of their first round series.

Van Gundy acknowledged the Hawks play better at home.

“There’s no question they’re a better team and it’ll be tougher up there,” Van Gundy told reporters. “I guess the answer is we have to play better. We’re going to have to rebound better. We’re going to have to play better basketball up there and we’re going to have to be very, very tough both mentally and physically to get a win.”

The Magic have been very good on the road during Van Gundy’s tenure and that includes some big road victories in the postseason.

“We’ve been in these situations before,” Van Gundy explained. We’ve been to Charlotte in the first round who had won 31 home games in the regular season and won games. Last year, we went into Cleveland after they won 39 home games and won a playoff game there.”

“I mean, I don’t think our guys get too worried about where the game is,” Van Gundy added.

Dwight Howard has dominated the Hawks. He’s scored 25 points per game on 16-of-19 shooting and has grabbed 14.5 rebounds per game in just 68 total minutes in two games against the Hawks. When the Hawks choose to double the big man, Orlando has several other weapons to burn them with.

“It’s hard because you have to pick you poison when they are shooting the ball that well,” Josh Smith said. “You either have to double team Dwight down low and live with shots when they are on fire, or you have to not double him and let him get at the basket and shoot his righty or lefty hook.”

Howard agreed that the Magic have a lot of weapons but knows that beating any team, including the Hawks, starts on the defensive end.

“We do have a lot of weapons,” Howard said. “But we have to do a better job on the defensive end. We gave them a lot of confidence with the way we played defense tonight.”

“So next game, we have to make a conscious effort to get the job done on the defensive end,” Howard added.

If they do, this series will be over in a hurry.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).