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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic Move On To Conference Finals


The Magic completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season with a 98-84 victory.

The Magic are on a roll. They’re now 8-0 in the playoffs and haven’t lost in 38 days.

"The Magic’s series in the Eastern Conference Finals won’t begin until Sunday at the earliest and Tuesday at the latest. Games 1 and 2 would be in Orlando if Boston emerges, while the series would start in Cleveland if the Cavs survive.“We’re on such a good roll right now and the chemistry has just come together for us so good,’’ said Lewis, who had another 17 points and four 3-pointers. “Doing what we’ve done is a big accomplishment sweeping the first two rounds, but we know now that the level is going to get tougher and tougher.“We can’t say that we’re going to sweep every round because we know it just gets a lot tougher now,’’ Lewis continued. “We’re trying to win every game every night. I just hope we’re not spoiling people winning all of these games because we might lose one one day. We’re not perfect, but we’re just trying to play great every night.’’"

John Denton provides his postgame analysis here.

The Magic got another big win over the Hawks and posted some gaudy numbers.

"Four Magic starters were in double figures, led by Vince Carter (22 points), Jameer Nelson (16 points, nine assists), Rashard Lewis (17 points) and Howard (13 points, eight rebounds). Mickael Pietrus scored 12, joining Lewis and Carter as players hitting four 3s pointers.A team truly in sync, the Magic bedeviled the Hawks with unselfish play, posting 27 assists and shot 55.4 percent. Leading by just eight at halftime, the Magic opened up the third period with an 11-2 run to put the Hawks behind by 17."

Brian Schmitz has that story here.

The Magic fine-tuned their offense in Game 4.

"Even a neutral observer could almost pity the Atlanta Hawks’ dilemma in Game 4 of the teams’ Eastern Conference semifinal series: Every time Atlanta collapsed on Dwight Howard with a double-team, the Magic made the Hawks pay.That translated into a 98-84 victory for Orlando, which closed out the series with another sweep.“If they’re hitting their 3s, they’re unstoppable,” Hawks guard Jamal Crawford said. “Do you leave Dwight open? Or do you stay home on the shooters? You’ve got to pick your poison.”"

Josh Robbins has that story here.

The Magic moved the ball around very well against the Hawks.

"The lead was built in the first quarter by some great ball movement around the perimeter to find open shooters. Yes, Orlando fell in love with the perimeter shot while the team went cold in the second and third quarters. But when it came time to answer a Hawks run, the Magic had the perfect play to answer — whether it was getting the ball to Dwight Howard in the post, driving and dishing or making that clutch 3-pointer."

Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily has that story here.

That Hawks have not been successful against the Magic on either end of the court.

"Throughout this series, the Hawks failed to consistently take any one facet of Orlando’s offense away. They couldn’t contain Nelson on the pick-and-roll, Howard in the low post (except for when he turned it over), or any of the perimeter shooting which proved a huge factor in their undoing in this series. Lewis and Pietrus got warmup jumpers thanks to some clean passes, as they did throughout the series. Atlanta tried countering that for a spell by assigning the long, athletic, shot-blocking Josh Smith to cover Pietrus for a few possessions, but rather than use his physical tools as a closeout nightmare, he played off Pietrus and let him shoot. Because playing a guy who had taken 33 of his 46 playoff shot attempts from beyond the arc for the drive is totally reasonable."

Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post discusses Game 4 here.

Losing is not an option for the Magic.

"“If you’re a team that only improves after a loss then you have the makings of a mediocre team,” Van Gundy says. “There’s improvement to be made every day. You have to be able to do it after wins. You have be able to learn without losing.”Van Gundy will tell you there is nothing – absolutely nothing – negative about being 8-0 in the playoffs. In fact when somebody asked him the other day if his team may be peaking too early in the postseason, he responded sarcastically, “What would you like us to do, try to lose a couple of games?”Not that anybody is suggesting the Magic should have intentionally tried to tank a game, but you have to wonder if they can keep up this torrid pace. The Magic are the only undefeated team in the playoffs and are riding a 14-game winning streak dating back to a regular season loss more than a month ago."

Mike Bianchi has that story here.

George Diaz doesn’t think it matters who the Magic play next.

"Frankly, it shouldn’t matter who the Magic are playing.They are the only team undefeated in the playoffs.They beat the Atlanta Squawks by a total of 101 points, an NBA playoff record during a 4-game sweep.They have won 14 consecutive games overall.Forget the fact that Cleveland has the better record.Orlando is now the team to beat."

You can read his blog here.

The Hawks just couldn’t figure out how to stay with the Magic.

"The Hawks never could figure out how to stop the Magic, and center Dwight Howard, forward Rashard Lewis and guards Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter were just part of the problem. Orlando also has a deep group of skilled perimeter players who can score. Crisp passing, excellent spacing and an inside-out game featuring Howard made them tough to defend.That’s in contrast to the Hawks, whose isolation-heavy and jump-shot dependent offense stalled against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Howard, the NBA;s Defensive Player of the Year, controlled the inside and his teammates held the Hawks down on the outside."

Michael Cunningham has that story here.

Jeff Schultz says change is needed in Atlanta.

"Al Horford gets it. He’s one of the few on this team who gets it. Horford ripped into teammates for their lack of effort following the 105-75 loss in Game 3, when the Hawks should have played with desperation. He didn’t back off Monday.“We had high expectations,” he said. “We wanted to be the three seed and we felt things would be a little different matching up with them. But it didn’t work that way for us.”What was the difference?“Just watch and see [Orlando’s] level of intensity that they played with. That defines their team. They’re a championship caliber team. Just take that in and play like that for next season."

You can find that story here.

During the series, the Hawks took too many inefficient, difficult shots. That didn’t change Monday.

"Atlanta took 24 more long two-point jumpers tonight while watching the Magic attempted 37 three-pointers. This discrepancy more than made up for Atlanta’s control of the defensive glass, their ability (for one night) to get to the free throw line, and forcing Orlando into twice as many turnovers as they committed themselves."

You can find that story on Hoopinion.

Fran Vazquez and FC Barcelona just won the Euroleague Title. M Haubs of the Painted Area touches on Vazquez and runs down the Final Four here.

(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).