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NBA Playoffs, Magic Hawks Game 1: Orlando beats Atlanta so bad that Cleveland gets the message

May 5, 2010, 12:22 AM EDT

Hawks_loss.jpgThat was THE statement game of the playoffs.

Everyone keeps on assuming that we are destined for a Cleveland vs. Los Angeles Finals, Kobe and LeBron. Just like everybody assumed that we were going to get that last year.

Orlando is here to remind you they were the best team in the East last year and they are a better team this year. The regular season is nice and all, but the Magic are built for the playoffs.

They sent a message by demoralizing and demolishing Atlanta 114-71 in game one.

The game was actually close through one quarter (27-25 Orlando) but the seeds of destruction had been sewn. Orlando was shaking off the rust, and their defense was starting to really come around. Dwight Howard had four blocks early (he finished with five) and soon the Hawks were no longer cutting to the basket but relying on isolation, which led to long jump shots. And misses.

Midway through the first quarter, Atlanta coach Mike Woodson took out his starting center in Al Horford, with the theory that he could later match him up against Magic backup center Martin Gortat and exploit that matchup. But he replaced Horford with the zombie that is Jason Collins, and suddenly Howard went to work. Collins committed two fouls and was out of the game again almost before he was announced.

Zaza Pachulia came in, but Howard just started backing him down for dunks. So the Hawks started to aggressively double Howard in the post — and now you have played right into the hands of the Magic. A kick out pass, the extra pass and JJ Redick or Jameer Nelson or someone is just draining open threes.

The Magic went on a 17-0 run in the second quarter and won the quarter 28-10. The Hawks were 4 of 17 shooting in the quarter with seven turnovers (which led to easy transition baskets).

The third quarter was worse, the Magic won that one 32-11 as lanes opened for Magic players to cut to the hoop, get the pass and have nobody at the rim to stop them. The Magic scored 32 points in the paint in those two quarters alone. Howard finished with 21, Vince Carter with 20, Nelson with 19. And they sat a lot.

Game two is not going to be exactly like this. The Hawks cannot play this bad again. But in their regular season matchups less severe versions of this same scenario played out. The Magic have a starting five that can best the Hawks starting five, and the Magic bench blows Atlanta out of the water. The Magic have matchup advantages they can easily exploit, while Howard takes away the easy baskets the Hawks try to get off their mismatches.

The Magic have made a statement. The Hawks were simply the vehicle. The Cavaliers were the intended recipients.

  1. Chris Humpherys - May 6, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Great title, man.
    And you’re right. This has all the makings of a short series.

  2. Patrick from Charlotte, NC - May 6, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    Chris, I got your point about the Magic having an easy road to the Conference finals. However, you have to remember that last year Cleveland had the same exact easy road to the conference finals when they swept Detroit Pistons in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks in the semi-finals while Orlando Magic had to battle 76ers and Celtics to get to the Conference finals. Magic handled business last year when they had a much harder road; so we expect to see the same with an easier road.

  3. Who cares - May 6, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    Your an idiot. You’re pointing out that the Magic were doing what the better higher seed was supposed to do in the first round by sweeping in your argument? You do realize that Orlando is probably going to do the same thing the cavs did last year. They most likely will sweep the first two rounds without a challange. Sounds kind of familiar. Oh yeah, the cavs swept the first two rounds last year, and what’d that prove? Nothing, they lost and didn’t even make it to the finals. Anything that happens to a team in a round previous to their current round is insignificant. The playoffs are all about the matchups if you didn’t realize this last year. That’s why the Magic beat the cavs last year. They were a matchup nightmare for the cavs. I’m just simply pointing out the idiocracy of your argument. I am a huge cavs fan, but I won’t make for predictions for the future. I just want the cavs to get through this round, and then I’ll worry about the next round. Something that this author should probably do too. I don’t even know why the Cavs were in the title of this article.

  4. NimRod - May 6, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    The last thing Cleveland is thinking about is the Magic…they won’t get passed the Ceeeeeees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  5. Eric - May 6, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    I know right. Very disrespectfull to the Celtics who took game 2 pretty convincingly That should be the message the Cavs pay attention to. The one thing I like about the article is that the media actually recognizes my team and it’s not a 35 page article about LeBronze’s elbow

  6. Eric - May 6, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    I agree some what Jayson, but let me tell you something. The Cavs and the Magic have esentially switched paths. Last year Cleveland had a very easy road to the Conf finals sweeping opponents, and all the media talked about what a great team they were and how “unbeatable” they were not how bad the teams they beat are. it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, it’s a feat to sweep a team in 4 games. Especially when your star playerS (Dwight and Vince) are not having good games. I think that is a testament to how good and how deep this Orlando team is and that better not be taken lightly. I’ve said it a bunch of times before, and I’ll say it here.

  7. Magicman101 - May 6, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    Do you even know what your talking about? You guys tried to say this stuff last year when the Magic beat you down and came real close to sweeping the series if it weren’t for a last minute shot by LBJ. Now you guys went out and got fat old Shaq thinking he can defend DH. None of your guys can take out the new and improved Superman V2. The best you guys can do is take turns flopping on the floor. Bring it in the lane and it’s going to get swatted into the courtside. You should be lucky LBJ even got MVP, should of been runner up. DH led the league in blocks, rebounds and field goal %. LBJ led in what? Now your guys are crying about and elbow injury. Just another excuse, like KG last year, of why the Magic sent “THE KING” back to his throne room without a ring. And your comment that the Cavs have a deeper bench then the Magic is unrealistic and has no standing when you compare team bench stats. Your just another LBJ fan that’s going to be asking why when the season is over. But hey look you have all summer long to worry about if LBJ is going to stay, so now you have something to look forward to. Oh and the one thing you idiots forgot is the Magic have enough respect to not be sitting on the bench dancing around like fools when they are blowing teams out of the water. That’s the difference between class and trash. The only thing I’m looking forward to seeing is if LBJ runs off the court like a big baby again or if he is going to take the beating like a real man. Bend over Cavs fans cuz it’s Magic time! Again… No luck needed when you have a team full of talent.

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