Steele: Magic-Hawks Game 3 Notebook

Sun Sports and FS Florida broadcaster David Steele is in the midst of his 22nd season of Orlando Magic basketball, and his 13th as the play-by-play announcer for the team's television broadcasts. He was named television play-by-play voice for the Orlando Magic in March of 1998 after handling radio play-by-play duties for the team's first nine seasons. Steele shares his unique take on what's happening with the Orlando Magic and more with his newest blog.

Posted by David Steele, Saturday, April 23, 2011, 11:51 AM

Magic-Hawks Game 3 Notebook

Right now, Jamal Crawford is the face of the Atlanta Hawks.

Brash, confident, determined.

Crawford is playing the game loose and free, with a “nothing to lose” attitude.

Consider his four-point play early in the 4th quarter of Friday night’s game three in the best of seven series against the Orlando Magic. Just when it appeared the Magic might be gaining control on the Hawks home floor, Crawford tossed up one of his patented rain-makers out of the corner, got fouled on the shot, converted the free throw, and Atlanta was back in the lead.

Then with the clock ticking down and the game on the line, Crawford banked in a deep, desperation three from beyond the top of the arc (a guaranteed letter-getter in a game of H-O-R-S-E), and the Hawks celebration was on.
Jamal Crawford is on a roll. So are the Atlanta Hawks, a talented, but fragile NBA team that is very difficult to beat when they feel good about themselves. Make no mistake, the Hawks are feeling very good about themselves, sitting in the driver’s seat, up 2-1 in the series.

The Magic, on the other hand, looks like a team that is searching for that mojo, that confidence that it takes to be successful in the post-season. Their self-proclaimed goal of winning an NBA title seems to be weighing heavy on every jump shot taken, every free throw attempted.

They are scoring just 88 points per game against Atlanta in the series, shooting a woeful 40.7% from the field, a dismal 26% on threes.

Atlanta’s defense has been good, but not that good. Friday night, the Magic missed a whopping 20 three point shots, mostly open looks for usually reliable three point shooters, but Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson went a combined 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.

Two years ago at this time, Orlando was in a similar situation. Down 2-1 to Philadelphia. Not playing very well. Feeling the pressure of high expectations. Hedo Turkoglu made a game winning shot to pull out game four in Philly, and the Magic used that win to springboard all the way to the NBA Finals.

Granted, this is a different season, a different Magic team. A Hawks team that is better than the ’09 Sixers.

But Orlando still has Dwight Howard in the middle, Jameer Nelson at the point, and a bevy of three point shooters on the perimeter. Howard is going to continue to do what he does: dominate the paint. Nelson will continue to lead at the point. If three point shots begin to fall, we will see a boost in Orlando’s offensive confidence, and, just as importantly, perhaps a dampening of Atlanta’s soaring self esteem.

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