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Second Thoughts: Magic/Hawks Game Five


First Quarter

Brandon Bass uses the first two possessions on contested jumpers. I like Bass, he has a great jump shot, but he definitely defers to it too much. He has had a lot of success this series even against Al Horford taking it to the basket and forcing the action a little more. I know a lot of people want Bass to do this or look to pass more when he gets the ball. I would say, yes. Bass relies on his jumper too much.

–You can really feel the energy in the building early on. Great job from the fans.

–First field goal came on a Jason Richardson curl that led to an open layup. Great playcall and execution to get Richardson going. Magic need more plays like this to get guys open and attacking the basket.

–The Magic tend to go away from Dwight Howard early to try and get other guys involved. And I don’t mind this, Howard has proven he is going to get his points in this series no matter who is defending him. Howard has shown a lot of poise in the paint in handling the pressure defense, even if he has had the turnover problems. Atlanta has dug down more on Howard more and more as this series has gone on. This has opened up more 3-point shooting and given Howard less room to work. He is going to have to continue to work and take what the defense is giving him this series.

–I give Jason Collins a lot of credit for doing a great job pushing Howard out of the lane and off his spot. Howard’s best look at post looks have often come on reposts where he re-establishes position deeper and gets the ball back. Collins is just very good at quietly pushing Howard around.

–It would have been easy for the Magic to fold a little bit when Dwight Howard went out, but they upped their energy and continued to play with great energy. That did not happen in Game Four when the Hawks took control of the game with Howard on the bench early int he first quarter. Instead Orlando played some great defense against Atlanta’s small lineup and looked to really push the pace. Don’t know if Atlanta was expecting it.

–It did not always end in a made basket, but Orlando listened to what I said. The Magic were not settling for 3-pointers and looked to attack the basket to open things up more. This is really how Orlando has to open up its perimeter game.

–I was ragging on Brandon Bass early in this post. But he and J.J. Redick really were the spark for Orlando in the first quarter. The Magic were up 10-8 when he picked up his second foul. They went on an 11-0 run from there after Josh Smith split the free throws following the Howard foul.

J.J. Redick was just simply in a Duke-like zone in the first quarter. He was not going to miss.

–Also something to notice, the Magic bench was much more active as cheerleaders and that is a big energy boost for the team. The Hawks have been active like this all series and you can tell who is into the game because of this.

–The Magic were not perfect in the first quarter. They made some great defensive plays in recovery but also got beat some off the dribble on scramble situations. The Hawks certainly felt comfortable posting up Zaza Pachulia on Ryan Anderson. Strategy did not work.

Second Quarter

–The Magic’s ball movement was just so much better Tuesday than it has been all series long. Consistently went into the paint and dished back out for either an open shot, or up-fake, drive and dish out again. Aggressive attacks like these have to be the thought for Game Six.

–Just like Orlando finally started hitting open jumpers and shots they make all year, Atlanta finally started missing contest mid-range jumpers. It took five games, but the law of averages finally seemed to be working.

–It might be just two games of noticing this, but Gilbert Arenas and Dwight Howard have some decent chemistry on the pick and roll. Arenas is a good enough passer — and has enough flair for the dramatic — to find Howard as they both attack the basket for the perfect pass to set him up for either a dunk or a foul. We saw a lot of that as Arenas attacked the basket in Game Four and he had a little bit more of an eye to pass in Game Five. Arenas might be right, he just needs the time and the possessions to get into a rhythm. We will see wif he can get that knee healthy.

–Magic have to really hope that Josh Smith does not play this aggressively in Game Six. Smith was looking to attack Turkoglu in the post early and often and drew a lot of fouls on Turkoglu — three in fairly quick order in the first half — and this gave Smith more room to get in the post. Orlando wants Smith shooting jumpers, the more he attacks the basket the more problems he can give Orlando. Turkoglu has to really focus defensively in playing solid defense without fouling while making Smith work offensively. Remember, you want him settling for jumpers.

–The confidence is just flowing from player to player… and you can see it with each shot that falls.

–What really should concern Atlanta is that the team never made a run in the first half (nor really in the second half). The Hawks just could not stem the Magic tide or make their own push. Not that they were not playing hard, they just could not pull everything together and were taken aback by the aggressiveness and energy the Magic brought.

Third Quarter

–The Magic played great offensively, really looking to attack the paint but that does not mean all of Orlando’s problems are gone offensively. The Hawks were very slow on their rotations and just did not look able to match the Magic’s energy. Expect that to change drastiically in Game Six on Thursday. Orlando is going to have to continue to be willing to attack the paint even when Atlanta is able to cut the penetration off and rotate. The Magic so far this serieshave not been successful at this stage of the game.

–It is too late for me to keep track of this, but I will bet most of Orlando’s 3-point makes this series have come off of deep dribble penetration. You don’t want guys just receiving a pass and hoisting a three. The Magic have to continue to look to attack, I cannot stress this enough.

Joe Johnson was making many of the shots and floaters he missed in Game Four.

–Turkoglu struggled a lot early in the game and was still searching to find his rhythm offensively. Then in the second and third quarters, Turkoglu attacked the basket and he had his best shooting game of the series. Again, I cannot emphasize it enough the Magic must attack the basket.

–As to Zaza’s non-flagrant flagrant foul: it was not called a flagrant foul because Pachulia wrapped him up before he could get airborne. With flagrant fouls, it really is all about the fall and not about the actual foul. Howard is not a guy who flops for any reason… might be time for him to learn just to protect himself better.

Fourth Quarter

–Matt Guokas brought up the point that the Hawks are purposefully trying to get under Dwight’s skin and make him react or do something foolish. This has been Zaza Pachulia‘s role in the series. Good catch by Stan Van Gundy to recognize what a blowout this became and to take his superstar out of the game in the fourth quarter. Howard should be pretty well rested for Game Six.

–I am beginning to believe more and more that Gilbert Arenas can right his ship next season. He needed to adjust to coming off the bench for sure. But the last two games have shown what an aggressive Gilbert Arenas can do. It is not just his ability to get to the basket, he knows how to pass the ball and has pretty good court vision. He seems a lot more confident in what he is doing now and is much more aggressive because of it.

–Much like Orlando, I think Atlanta is going to expect to make more shots in Game Six. But the Hawks are going to have to make some adjustments too entering Game Six. I do not think they want to trap the ball handler on the screen and roll because that could open up 3-point shooters, but they definitely want to guide the Magic’s ballhandlers to the corners where they can be trapped and prevent dribble penetration. Really that is what Orlando did best in this game to dominate so much. Some increased energy should help, but Atlanta cannot let Orlando’s ball handlers get to their strong side. Larry Drew definitely has some questions to answer though if Orlando comes out with this type of energy again.

–#FreeEarlClark makes his playoff debut. And he also played with a lot of energy especially defensively. Still can’t hit a jumper. Must work on that this summer.

–All 12 players scored for Orlando.

–The Hawks have also been digging in more and more on Howard and that may have opened things up more for the Magic offensively. One adjust I am sure we will see is less digging on Howard when he gets the ball and more sticking to the shooters. Orlando has to move the ball more to try and counteract this more and cannot fall in love with one on one play like the team did in the first four games.

–It is moments like Chris Duhon‘s two free throws to end the game that make me miss Mac Attacks.

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