ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 16: Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots over Quentin Richardson #5 of the Orlando Magic during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Links and quotes following the Hawks 103-93 Game one victory over the Orlando Magic
"I am sure like us they are going to see what they can do better but it doesn’t matter for us," Zaza said. "We know individually what we can do. If we play together for 48 minutes I think we should be in good shape. We are going to have a chance to win the series if we play just like today. Together, help each other defensively, share the ball. It was beautiful to watch our team."
Have to agree with everything Zaza says. This team is beautiful to watch when they play the correct way.
Turns out there is hope after all.
So this is what it feels like.
Quoth Josh Smith, "We played with so much passion and desire, we willed this game."
I know what you’re thinking. But it could be the up-and-down Hawks actually might do something special this postseason?
Expect nothing. Just let this mystery continue to unfold.
The Hawks flipped the switch. Suddenly guard Joe Johnson looked like a five-time All-Star again. Jamal Crawford found the form that made him last season’s Sixth Man of the Year. Kirk Hinrich showed why theHawks traded for him in February.
As Stan Van Gundy correctly pointed out after the game, Orlando’s lack of any scoring outside of Howard and Jameer Nelson (27 points) wasn’t their biggest problem. Defense was the major issue for the Magic. Orlando’s perimeter defenders were awful on the defensive end. The Hawks, who have regressed on offense this season, managed to score 103 points on 51.4% shooting. They also hit six timely three-pointers and outshot the Magic from the free throw line.
The Hawks, right now, have three clear matchup advantages. Johnson, Smith, and Horford can do whatever they want offensively without much troubles. When Crawford is in the game at point guard for Atlanta, he scores but Nelson torches him defensively. Likewise, even though Hinrich did the best job of containing Nelson, that’s still a matchup in Orlando’s favor when Nelson plays to his capabilities, like he did in the second half.
Having said all that, the Magic did manage to get some great looks for Jason Richardson (4 points, 2-of-8 shooting, 41 minutes) and J.J. Redick (4 points, 2-of-6 shooting), but they didn't fall. Orlando had a chance to win this game, and I wonder if it were to be played again, with each player on both sides getting the same exact shot attempts, if the Magic would prevail. You'll forgive me, I'm sure, for not trusting that Crawford and Smith will continue burying long jumpers late in the clock.
Atlanta, a below-average offensive team, shot 51 percent from the floor and saw two guards, Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford, go over 20 points on 50 percent shooting or better. For Crawford, much of that came on long jumpers. But J.J. ventured into the paint, drawing fouls and scoring on several short jumpers. That doesn't usually happen against Dwight. Did all that offense he created wear him out too much?
Johnson venturing into the paint for the remainder of the series will probably have as big an impact on whether or not Atlanta can win this series.
Consider the Magic’s counterparts: the Hawks had five double-digit scorers, all of whom shot 50 percent or better from the field. That’s not exactly the type of team-wide performance we should expect from Atlanta for the duration the series, but at the very least the Hawks have more players capable of functioning as self-sustaining sources of offense than the Magic do.
Seriously when was the last time the guys on this site had anything good to say about the Atlanta Hawks?