ORLANDO MAGIC VS. ATLANTA HAWKS GAME 6


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Thursday, April 28
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena (ATLANTA, GA)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: NBA TV



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

J.J. Redick

Ryan Anderson
HAWKS
Kirk Hinrich

Joe Johnson

Jason Collins

Al Horford

Josh Smith

Jamal Crawford

Marvin Williams





















GAME PREVIEW


For four seasons, the Atlanta Hawks have been one of the most interesting conundrums in the league.

At times they've appeared to be a good looking up-and-coming team, as indicated by their 2008 postseason when they took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round. Other times, however, they look like a team that will never live up to its potential, like what was seen during their 2009 and 2010 playoff runs when they were pushed by lesser opponents in round one and then obliterated in the conference semifinals.

Unfortunately for Hawks fans, this trend of inconsistency has continued to plague Atlanta, with Game 5 of its series with the Orlando Magic as further proof.

Right from the opening tip of the game it was apparent that the Hawks had no intention of finishing the Magic. There was no ball movement or any sort of rhythm established offensively and, defensively, they pretty much conceded the three-point line.

This is a far cry from what the Hawks were doing during the first four games of the series where they were playing with purpose on offense with great effort and enthusiasm, while on defense they almost completely took the triple away from the Magic, leaving Dwight Howard on an island.

Atlanta completely squandered its chance to advance and it's now put itself in a must-win Game 6 situation. The reason for this is primarily because Orlando managed to crush the Hawks despite Howard only recording eight points and eight rebounds.

It should be extremely worrisome to Atlanta that the Magic were able to manhandle them the way it did without Howard leading the way scoring wise. Those long-range shooters that were firing blanks before, suddenly woke up and there's a good chance they could carry over their hot hands into Game 6.

If that happens and Howard is able to get going again, then the Hawks will be in for a Game 7, something they must not allow if they want to advance. Shifting focus to Orlando, the Magic should count themselves lucky that Atlanta decided to take a night off.

It's highly unlikely that the Hawks will have as poor an effort in Game 6 as they did in Game 5 and if they're going to force Game 7, besides needing their outside gunners to stay hot, they'll need to find a way keep either Joe Johnson or Jamal Crawford in check.

Orlando has done a good job defensively in the series, only giving up 87.4 points per game, however, against Crawford and Johnson, it has struggled. Every game in this best-of-seven that those two have led their team in scoring, the Hawks have won.

The two guards spark the Hawks attack because of their ability to break down a defender one-on-one to create shots for themselves. When they manage to score, it also opens things up for the rest of the team as extra attention is needed to defend them.

That's why it's important for Orlando to try to take one of the two out of the game. If it shores up its defense on just one of them then the playmaking and shot-taking duties will fall to just one guy, a recipe for disaster for an Atlanta club that's terrible when it gets caught up running isolation plays.

Game 6 promises to be a very interesting affair with a lot on the line for both clubs. However, because the Hawks elected to play with fire and basically forfeit Game 5, the most pressure will be on them to close out as the Game 7 advantage will undoubtedly go to the Magic.





DENTON'S GAME 5 POSTGAME ANALYSIS


ORLANDO – On a night when even the team’s mascot, Stuff, banked in a halfcourt shot during a timeout skit early in the game, the Orlando Magic finally found their shooting strokes from afar and breathed some life back into this best-of-seven series.

The Magic battered Atlanta early and often by raining in 3-pointers from all corners of the Amway Center to win 101-76 going away in send-a-message style to the embarassed Hawks. Orlando staved off elimination, pulled within 3-2 in the series and set the stage for what could be an epic Game 6 in Atlanta on Thursday night.

``I kept telling everybody just because we were up by 16, then 20 and 25 to not let up. I wanted to beat them by 50,’’ said Magic guard Quentin Richardson, who played a major role in holding Joe Johnson to five points on two of 12 shooting. ``This is not a forgiving league. Nobody out there would have felt bad if we would have gotten beat tonight. So we’re not going to care that they got blasted tonight. … It was win or go home so we weren’t going to leave anything to chance.’’

On a night when superstar center Dwight Howard had just one field goal, the Magic played with such energy and desperation that they led by as many as 32 points at one point in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Magic got contributions from several players who have struggled in the series so far: Jason Richardson had 17 points and three 3-pointers, J.J. Redick scored 11 of his 14 points during a first-quarter barrage, while Ryan Anderson chipped in 11 points and another three 3-pointers.

A Magic team that shot just 40 percent from the floor and 21 percent from 3-point range in the first four games of the series finally erupted for 11 3-pointers and shot 41 percent. The Magic led by 13 points after one period, by 23 points at halftime and 26 through three quarters. Similarly, the noise level inside the Amway Center seemed to rise to deafening levels as the one-sided night progressed.

``The pressure is on them now to close us out in Atlanta,’’ Anderson said. ``We have a ton of momentum right now, but we know they’ll be revved up. But they’ll be nervous for us, too.’’

One of the loudest ovations of the night came when Public Address announcer Paul Porter announced that tickets for Game 7 would go on sale Wednesday. Nothing would delight the Magic more than winning in Atlanta and setting up a winner-take-all game at the Amway Center on Saturday night.

Only eight teams in history have come back to win after being down 3-1 in a series, most recently the Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006. Of the eight times that teams have rallied back to win, six times it’s been done by the higher-seeded team. The fourth-seeded Magic hope that they’ve finally found the rhythm to beat the fifth-seeded Hawks, but one Hawk player doubted it would happen.

``We are good. We’re still in the driver’s seat. This is just one game,’’ said Jamal Crawford, Atlanta’s leading scorer in the series who had just eight points on Tuesday. ``We’ll come back and get ready for Game 6. We have to come out and act like we are in desperation (mode). You can’t get comfortable. They were the aggressors (on Tuesday), but we have to be the aggressors in Game 6.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Tuesday’s Game 5 at the Amway Center:

READ REST OF ANALYSIS>>>


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