Game 3 Preview: Time to give the Hawks their due

It's time.

Alternate Headline(s): When the Hawks betray common beliefs or Enough hypocritical analysis of Hawks defense on Magic

Look, we're the first to have written, over and over again, that the Atlanta Hawks are a flawed team. They love to shoot jump shots too much, ignore the point guard when running a break, blah, blah, blah. We've covered it.

And when it came to picking this series, I picked the Hawks to win, not under some impression that the Hawks were glory bound, au contraire, rather, due to the obvious change in gameplan--the much needed non-doubling of Dwight Howard, the change in personnel, and the four game sample between the teams during the regular season.

So far, in this series, we've seen more of the same statistics and results that we saw in the four games prior. The Hawks have allowed Dwight Howard to score, they've closed out on the perimeter shooters with success, and have been alright themselves offensively. The result is currently home court advantage for the Hawks and a 1-1 series tie heading into tonight's Game 3 tip-off in Atlanta.

If the reverse had been true, if the Hawks were falling into the same traps as history would suggest, then there would be no small rush to condemn this team and use that same sample as proof. Along with the usual gaggle of giggles, I'm sure.

The Hawks have a solid gameplan that takes advantage of their own positive matchups while limiting the advantages the Magic enjoy. They have Orlando re-thinking their strategies because of what's been taken away from them and are having to play their superstar center nearly all the playoff minutes thus far. That this defensive approach has also limited the Hawks' defensive shortcomings (i.e. defensive rotation) strengthens it's application for the ATL even more.

They have currently taken away home court advantage, with the opportunity to take slight control of the series tonight at home in Game 3. A win tonight puts last year further into irrelevance and cements that they are a tough, tough matchup for Orlando this year, and that the changes that have been made now make them the team to beat in this series.

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