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NBA Playoffs: Hawks look for close out, Magic look for threes

Apr 28, 2011, 4:30 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v Orlando Magic - Game Five Getty Images

The dynamics of this series — the dynamics that put the Atlanta up 3-1 and give them to close out Orlando on Thursday night at home in Game 6 — have not changed.

Atlanta will largely single-cover Dwight Howard and he will put up impressive numbers. Hedo Turkoglu will stink. Jamal Crawford will again have Hawks fans wondering where this guy has been hiding all season. Jason Richardson will hobble due to stitches on his foot.

One thing was different in Game 5 — Orlando knocked down its threes. The Magic shot 36.6 percent on threes in the regular season then 21 percent through the first four games of this series. Atlanta, because they can single-cover Howard with Jason Collins, does a better job than most defending the arc, but Orlando was just missing. The regression to the mean was coming.

It arrived in Game 5 when Orlando hit 11 of 26 (42.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

Put simply, if the Magic can do that again they will force a Game 7 Saturday. If they revert to shooting in the 20s, well, there are a lot of nice golf courses in the Orlando area.

Al Horford and Josh Smith have both been impressive this series for the Hawks, balancing out the beast that is Dwight Howard. J.J. Redick returned to form in Game 5 for the Magic and started to balance out Crawford, who may be the best player in this series so far.

It’s Game 6, there are no more secrets. If Atlanta can create some turnovers and use missed three-pointers by Orlando to lead to some easy transition points, they are advancing to face Chicago. If Orlando takes care of the ball and the threes are falling, everyone is heading back to Orlando for Game 7.

It seems both obvious and simple to say that this game and this series will come down to made shots, but there it is.

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