The Orlando Magic had a lengthy film session Sunday in preparation for their Game 4 matchup with the Atlanta Hawks Monday night.
Coach Stan Van Gundy convened his players for a longer-than-normal video review session before they hit Philips Arena’s main court for practice.
“When I went back and watched the film last night — I told them this today — our defense wasn’t nearly as good as I had thought during the game,” Van Gundy said. “But we also, again, wanted to make some offensive adjustments against some of the things they’re doing.”
The Magic held the Hawks to 34.9 percent shooting in the 105-75 Game 3 victory. So, what was there to improve?
“I thought we were a little disorganized at times in terms of our post defense and where we wanted our help to come from and what we wanted to do on the weak side,” Van Gundy said. “And I thought we were inconsistent in our pick-and-roll defense on the ball.”
You can read that story here.
The Magic have been very impressive against the Hawks but are still taking this series one game at a time.
“We need to take it game by game and execute our gameplan,” said Matt Barnes, who has been Orlando’s key defensive force against the opposition’s top scorers.
The Magic became the fourth team in NBA history to win two or more games by 30 or more in the same series with a 43-point annihilated in Game 1 and 30-point obliteration in Game 3 against the Hawks.
Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com previews Game 4 here.
Is it more satisfying to close out a series on the road or at home? Cohen also debates Dan Savage here.
The Magic rely on the 3-pointer and it’s all set up by the big man in the middle.
“Shooting has to be a priority. You have to think about how to increase space for Dwight and the only way to do that is to put shooters around him,” [General Manager Otis] Smith said. “We’ve done a good job at every position of finding guys who’ve been able to do that.”
It’s the guy who has hit only one 3-pointer his entire career (while missing 18) that makes it all possible. Howard draws so much defensive attention that shooters are left uncovered. When the ball is moving crisply, the Magic can resemble a high-scoring video game.
The Magic have hit 42 more 3-pointers — a 126-point differential against their two opponents — in posting a 7-0 playoff record so far.
Brian Schmitz has that story here.
Atlanta’s players and coaches are questioning their effort.
Atlanta’s two blowout losses — by 43 points in Game 1 and by 30 points in Game 3 — have left Hawks players and their coach questioning their own heart.
“I don’t see the effort,” center Al Horford said.
“You can’t take a punch and lay there and then let a guy kick you and then you just lay there and that’s it,” guard Jamal Crawford said. “You have to be able to get back up and that’s what we have to do.”
Neither Crawford nor Horford could explain what ails their team.
Josh Robbins has that story here.
The Hawks are getting hammered by the national media. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution runs down those stories here.
Joe Johnson says the comments he made about not caring if the fans show up was not a farewell speech.
Asked if he had any more thoughts on the topic after sleeping on it, J.J. said:
“It was tough. I don’t think we’ve heard the boos like that in the five years since I’ve been here. When I first got here, man, there were probably like 100 people out there in those seats. I won’t say everybody is a diehard, but they’ve shown us a lot of support over the years. In the heat of the battle you tend to say a lot of things. But it was tough, man. I was a little [ticked] off but I am over now.”
Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has that story here.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks the Hawks can’t afford to dump Johnson.
Woodson again: “At the end of the day, this team is still headed in the right direction. I sure hope they don’t go back the other way and bust it up.”
To break apart this roster now would be tantamount to surrender, and we know too well what that’s like. But to expect these players to respond more positively to this coach in his seventh season on the job is likewise folly. We Atlantans saw the same thing happen more than two decades ago when a good young team grew up around Mike Fratello but eventually stopped listening.
You can find that story here.
If the Hawks are swept for the second straight year, it may mean big changes.
The Hawks won 53 games this season — their most in 13 years — but they have lost the first three games of this series by an average of 29 points, never even challenging in two of the three. When they were swept by Cleveland last year, they lost by an average of 18 points.
And ringing in everyone’s ear now was the pronouncement by ownership earlier this season that the measurement of the team would be based not on victory totals, but on playoff success.
“It would be tough (if the nucleus was broken up this summer), considering we’ve been together for quite some time, but everyone here understands this is a business, and that’s how you have to approach it,” Johnson said after practice Sunday. “At times, we’re one of the best teams in the league, but sometimes, we’re almost one of the worst teams in the league.”
Tim Povtak of NBA Fanhouse has that story here.
Dwight Howard wished all the moms out there a happy Mother’s Day on his blog.
(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).