We'll likely hear after the game, in both locker rooms, that "this is just one game". True, true---but man what a statement this one game was.
The 114-71 destruction of the Hawks here in Orlando in Game One showed one team, the Magic, that plays hard, team basketball from start to finish, regardless of the score or time of the game. The Hawks lack that gear, that initiative to play with the level of energy and movement that led them to a 25-23 first quarter, and keep it going for (48) minutes.
Whereas the Magic were unrelenting in their effort on both ends, the Hawks are apt to relent at any given moment, in startling, abrupt suddenness. Tonight, after that sudden stop for the Hawks in a disastrous second quarter, the Birds could never get it back, and the result was a Magic riptide that sucked the Hawks heart and effort out to sea.
The usual categories are available after the jump:
Game Over When: The Magic started the second quarter on a 17-4 run and never looked back. The Hawks simply stopped playing with the same energy that they did in the first quarter, and the Magic kept right on chugging, pretty much until the final buzzer sounded.
Worth Noting: Ummmmmmm....
Also: (still thinking)
We Saw It:
Where do we start? We'll start positive---the Hawks came out of the gate with energy and attack, led by Josh Smith's 5-8, 10 point effort. After Smith came out with his second foul---the unraveling began.
Things were so wrong for the Hawks that Al Horford slipped quietly into the Orlando night---after missing a dunk following a fantastic move on Dwight Howard, Horford lost his mojo and was even seen fading away when shooting 14 footers with nobody guarding him.
It was also Horford who, with six minutes left in the first quarter, was taken from the game in favor of Jason Collins. Woodson said after the game that it was to "use up fouls" and so Horford wouldn't pick up that second foul. This was the most successful strategy of the night, as Horford never did pick up a second foul.
Woodson said it was something they talked about in shoot-around. Afterwards, Horford told us that it "was coach" and that he "would have to deal with it". As for bringing in Collins over Zaza Pachulia, Woodson said that he was waiting to match Zaza up against Marcin Gortat, but Howard didn't leave the game until almost three minutes left in the first half with the Magic up (16) already. Whoops.
The Hawks have to do a better job of even the most basic of things---like making the pass into the post. The Hawks have some sort of mental block on this pass, because either the big has to come all the way out to the arc to get the ball, or it gets turned over. Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and everyone needs to do this better. When the guys who pass the ball into the post the best are the guys you actually want in the post, something needs to get better.
When teams come back against the Hawks, we're told it's because "NBA teams make runs." Well, we're still waiting for the run the Hawks made after that first quarter. We asked everybody about it afterwards and here is a collection of what was offered as an explanation.
Woodson: "We just didn't have anything."
Horford: "We stopped moving. We stopped everything."
Crawford: "We let it snowball on us."
Josh Smith: "We stopped playing aggressively on defense. It seemed like after that second quarter we just laid it down." And then he asked the question we've been asking all season. "If we played like that (with energy) in the first quarter, why couldn't we do it the other three (quarters)?" Wish I knew, Josh---I wish I knew.
Mike Bibby was caustic in his responses, repeating that the Hawks "simply didn't make shots." Even when I pressed about the snowballing and not making any runs, Bibby offered, "If we're not making shots, how can we make a run?"
We Can't Believe We Saw It:
With around 4:41 left in the third quarter, Joe Johnson held the ball in the corner. He looked to move the ball toward the top of the key, until he saw Jeff Teague standing there, waiting for the ball. Joe almost had the ball out of his hands when he looked, sucked the ball back into his chest like a tractor beam, and then opted to shoot a three. Tough luck, rook.
Just kidding---we're not showing those stinkin' highlights. See you at Game Two!