The Orlando Magic will take on the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at 5:00 p.m. EST Saturday.
The Magic have been successful because of balanced, unselfish play.
“These guys have been great,” Van Gundy said. “They enjoy playing together. They play well together. They trust each other. … I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team that it’ll just come down to how well we play. It won’t be chemistry problems, it won’t be lack of professionalism. It’ll come down to how we play.”
Van Gundy said the kind of balanced scoring the Magic displayed in Thursday night’s Game 2 — when four players scored more than 20 points — is consistent with how the team has played all season. Often, though, rather than four players with more than 20 points, the Magic have six or seven players in double-figures
Tania Ganguli has that story here.
Eric Freeman of the Baseline wonders if the Magic are now the favorites.
If the Magic could make it past their East brethren, that would leave the Lakers as their likely Finals foe. And while the Lakers defeated Orlando reasonably easily last season and would hold similar advantages this year, the Magic are arguably a better team now than they were last June. When Vince Carter is at his best, he gives them a much-needed scoring threat on the perimeter, and Nelson is the kind of quick point guard the Lakers often struggle to defend. The teams are the same, but it would be a different series.
You can find that story here.
The Magic’s pick-and-roll is killing the Hawks.
Three different times when the Magic ran their pick and roll in the 4th, the Atlanta Hawks tried three different ways to stop it. The one common link in these three plays were the Hawks going over the screen set by Dwight Howard. This is because the Magic were using Vince Carter as the ball handler in these PNRs. If the Hawks’ defenders went under these screens, it would have given Vince Carter an open jumper, and he is a very good shooter when he is shooting off the dribble going to his right side. So to prevent that, the Hawks went over the screen to chase him off the three point line.
Sebastian Pruiti dissects the pick-and-roll here.
The Magic are unlikely to go fo-fo-fo.
The concept of a Fo’-Fo’-Fo’ was immortalized by Moses Malone before the 1983 postseason, but while the Sixers stormed through the playoffs on the back of Malone’s brilliant performance (.260 WS/48), Philly actually went 4-5-4, losing once to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. 18 years later, the L.A. Lakers looked as dominant as any playoff team ever has, but after going 4-4-4 to reach the Finals, a Game 1 loss — ironically enough, to the Sixers — derailed their hope of an undefeated playoff run. And so it has been that in all of NBA history, no team has ever swept the entire playoffs without a single defeat.
The only team with a chance to obliterate that piece of trivia in the 2010 playoffs are the Orlando Magic, 6-0 thus far after another big win over the Atlanta Hawks, a team that seems totally incapable of matching up with the Magic for 48 minutes. Right now, the Magic are 10 wins away from the 4-4-4-4 dream… What are the odds that they’ll pull it off?
Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference has that story here.
As the series moves to Atlanta, the Magic won’t be taken in by the Atlanta nightlife.
“All that stuff goes by the way side,” small forward Matt Barnes said. “We get there, grab something to eat and get some rest at the hotel. We want to win this thing and there’s nothing going to come in the way of that, especially going out. We know what time it is. We know what everybody’s trying to accomplish.”
General Manager Otis Smith isn’t worried about players keeping late-night hours. He has tried to instill a championship culture since he took over full-time four years ago.
“I can’t tell adult guys not to do adult things. I do tell them to be accountable to their teammates,” he said. “All I’ve talked to them about is doing their job when the ball goes up.
Brian Schmitz has that story here.
Try Kirby of Ball Don’t Lie thinks Dwight Howard is hilarious.
The Hawks are happy to be home.
It almost has to mean a victory in Game 3 on Saturday: No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series. And though the Hawks were dominant at home in the regular season, the Magic have been playing at an elite level for more than two months.
“They have,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Friday. “But it’s good to be home.”
There is comfort at home for the Hawks. They posted a 34-7 record there during the regular season and are 9-4 in postseason games on their court over the past three years.
“[The Magic] took care of home,” Hawks forward Josh Smith said. “We’ve got to be able to play a full 48 minutes and get our crowd into like they got their crowd into it.”
Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has that story here.
The Hawks must make their last stand at home.
“We’re good enough to play with anybody,” said Al Horford, who had one of the finest games of a stellar career (24 points, 10 rebounds). “We’ve got to keep improving and building on what we did the first half. We’ve got to put in a full game.”
If you’re into trends, you’re slightly encouraged. The Hawks played one good quarter in Game 1; they played three in Game 2. They were where they needed to be the second time around, and then they started lofting jump shots and the game got away. The Magic went from one point ahead to 11 points up in three minutes and 10 seconds, which shows Orlando has a separation gear its opponent lacks. The trick is to keep that gear from being engaged.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has that story here.
Mike Woodson stood up for Josh Smith after he was criticized by Hubie Brown during Thursday night’s broadcast.
It’s happened at times this season with Smith, whom Woody said is “still growing as player.” But Woody defended Smith from the outside criticism.
“We see that on tape and we point that out,” he said. “I don’t need Hubie or them guys like that [to do it]. I heard comments today that Hubie was blistering Josh Smith. Well, he can get away with it because he’s coached. But I don’t know if I can let you guys get away with it.
Cunningham has that story here.
Surprise surprise; Skip Bayless says the Magic are better without Vince Carter.
Skip Bayless is still not convinced that Vince Carter and the Orlando Magic are the best tandem in the Eastern Conference. He preferred Rafer Alston and Hedo Turko controlling the half-court and playing defense on Lebron last season, in which the Magic won the Eastern Conference title.
“I’m going to believe it when I see it come to fruition down the road when Orlando plays Boston or San Antonio or L.A. there’s a lot of basketball to be played,” Skip Bayless said. “I’m not going to overreact to a series with Atlanta in which the Hawks have no answer to Dwight Howard.”
Shannon Owens has that story 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).