Denton's Dish: Three Keys for Game 4

OrlandoMagic.com’s John Denton picks the three keys for the Orlando Magic to defeat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the playoffs Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Philips Arena:

1. Find a third scorer. Dwight Howard and, to a much lesser extent, Jameer Nelson have been the Magic’s only consistent players offensively. But Orlando has been unable to find a third scorer to keep the Hawks’ defense honest. Jason Richardson (8.7 ppg.) and Hedo Turkoglu (8.3) are the most logical candidates, but they are shooting 30 and 25 percent respectively from the floor and well below their regular-season scoring averages. J.J. Redick was better in Game 3, but still shows signs of rust from missing five weeks with a lower abdominal strain. Could Gilbert Arenas, who was benched for Friday’s Game 3, find his way back into the rotation to see if he can provide a scoring punch? The Magic must find another scorer to support Howard and Nelson if they are going to rally and win this series.

2. Get the ball inside to Howard. The Magic’s superstar center got 23 shot attempts (with 22 free throw attempts) in Game 1 and 12 shot attempts (with 19 free throws) in Game 2, but those numbers plummeted 14 shot attempts and nine free throw attempts in Friday’s Game 3. Howard’s last field goal in Game 3 – a putback that put the Magic up by two points – came with 3:17 to play. He had just one free throw the rest of the way and did not get off a shot attempt as the Magic mostly heaved shots from the outside. There’s a good chance that the Hawks could be without center Jason Collins (bruised tailbone), so the Magic must feed the ball inside to Howard and ride the big man’s much-improved offensive game. With the outside shots clearly not falling, the Magic must go with their best option and that’s clearly Howard on the inside.

3. Play with great desperation. The Magic played like a hungry, desperate team in Game 2 – their lone win in the series so far. They need to play with the same intensity and fire in Game 3 because losing this next game could be devastating. Only eight teams in history have rallied to win a series after falling behind 3-1. The Magic seemed sluggish in Friday’s first half, allowing the Hawks to get whatever they wanted offensively. The Magic were much tougher in the second half and likely would have won the game had they played that way start to finish. Expect the Magic to come into Sunday’s game with a must-win mentality and play much harder from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.