Hawks vs. Magic
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Orlanda, Fla.
TV, radio: Fox Sports South; 1240-AM
ORLANDO, Fla. — In the days leading up to the start of the playoffs, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and his players shrugged off the idea of flipping on any kind of special internal switch just for the postseason.
It turns out that question should have perhaps been saved for the Atlanta Hawks, who were able to do just that in running past the Magic during a surprise 103-93 Game 1 victory Saturday night. It was their fourth straight win over Orlando, and came just a year removed from suffering the most-lopsided playoff four-game sweep to the Magic in NBA history.
Now with two days for both teams to dissect the game film and make adjustments before Game 2, the question is which trend will continue: The Hawks’ newfound mojo or the Magic’s historical dominance?
“I know this team can be up and down at times,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “I know this team can show signs of being really good and other times show signs of showing a disinterest. But I really believe that when it’s time to turn it on they know how to turn it on.”
After six consecutive losses to end the regular season, Drew acknowledges that there wasn’t much reason to expect the effort his team produced Saturday night.
The Hawks had five players in double figures and shot 51 percent from the floor, but hovered near a staggering 60 percent for most of the night. They also chose to try to make it a one-on-one affair at every position, allowing Orlando’s Dwight Howard to post 46 points to go along with 19 rebounds.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Wilt Chamberlain ever had as many as 46 points and 19 rebounds in a regulation-length NBA playoff loss. The Magic were 10-6 in the regular season when Howard had 30 or more points.
Joe Johnson, who had a team-high 25 points for Atlanta, said they have confidence in their one-on-one philosophy going forward.
“It helps us out a lot,” Johnson said. “We can stay home on shooters and not give those guys wide open looks. I think (center) Jason (Collins) did a good job. It doesn’t really show because Dwight had 46 and 19, But that’s just something we’re going to live with. I don’t think he can keep this pace up for the whole series.”
As well as Atlanta came out of the gates, it’s hardly panic time in the Orlando locker room.
Saturday’s game was just the first time they’d lost a game to the Hawks this season in which Orlando scored at least 90 points.
There were certainly areas of concern, though. Other than Jameer Nelson’s 27 points, the Magic got little production from the rest of their roster, with no other starter reaching double digits. They also had 18 turnovers, compared to just 10 by Atlanta.
Howard dismissed the idea that it was simply a matter of too much of him offensively and not enough production from his teammates.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team,” he said. “I could have scored 100 points and we still could have lost. So it’s not about me, it’s about what we have to do on the defensive end. We have to get stops.
“Like I said, if we would have got stops, I think me and Jameer just scoring the points like we did, we still would have had a chance winning the game,” Howard added.
Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith was a little more blunt about the lack of offensive production outside of Howard.
He said veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was brought back to the Magic as part of the midseason roster shakeup, needs to be more assertive on the offensive end.
Turkoglu was 2 for 9 from the field with just six points in Game 1, but also passed up several open shots.
“Turk is consistent, he’s been that way since he had 17 assists (Jan. 8 against Dallas),” Smith said.
Asked if he thinks Turkoglu shouldn’t have to be reminded to take a more active role offensively in the playoffs, Smith’s simply responded: “Of course.”
“Like I say, since he got 17 assists, he turned into a point guard and he’s pass first and shoot second,” Smith said. “He has to do it the other way around. What you want from your small forward is you have to have the ability to score the ball. He does have that ability. He has to score the ball.”
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said from his perspective the biggest change in Game 2 must be poking holes in the Hawks’ one-on-one approach on both ends.
“I think we can do a better job with our team defense,” Van Gundy said. “We can’t have it be a one-on-one game. That’s not to our benefit. That’s where they’re size becomes an advantage. We have to do some things as a team at both ends of the floor.
“At our offensive end of the floor, to make them move around and get bodies off us and stuff, and at the other end of the floor we’ve got to be better with our help and our closeouts,” he said. “And we’re gonna be.”