Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eastern Conference Playoffs Round 1 - Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks

This is the first time that I think that I can say that I want to see the Atlanta Hawks play.  The Hawks are running into a Magic team that is trying to find itself.  The Hawks are also trying to figure themselves out, so this one is going to be must see TV. 


Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy will both probably be mad that Dwight doesn't get the MVP.  Not saying that he should, but he does change the game big time for the Magic.  I love what Howard brings to the table on both O and D, but there's a part of his team that lacks that mental toughness.  Richardson is hitting the 3 like he's making layups and Jameer Nelson seems to be the cog that makes the engine run.  Ryan Andersen is great off the bench (he's starting at times) but this team struggles when Howard is out because of technical fouls or in foul trouble.  Turkoglu is a mismatch for many because of his size and ability to handle the rock at times. 


This is it.  This is what you paid Joe Johnson $119.2 M for.  Can he lead this team to an upset of the Magic?  The Hawks have size, a gunner off the bench in Crawford, a point guard that can run a team in Hinrich, and that's about it.  I really think that Johnson has got to come on and play ball, which is going to mean at least 20-plus points per game.  Horford should be able to play Howard and possibly get him in foul trouble.  Worst case is that the Hawks have about 4 guys that they can throw at Howard and beat him up.  The Hawks are going to have to rebound and force the Magic into shooting the 3 ball which hasn't been going in as of late.


Magic - The Artist Formerly known as Agent 0.  IF, and that's a big if, Arenas can somehow put it together and play his game, this Magic team would probably be the most dangerous team in the playoffs.  Arenas has not looked totally healthy and that may be a factor in him not playing like many expected him to. 

Hawks - Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford.  Teague has the opportunity to prove to people that he is the point guard of the future for the Hawks.  Teague hasn't done much in the league yet, but I did like this kid when he was in college.  He doesn't have to be too fancy, just run the team and hit an occasional 3.  Crawford is looking for a big contract next year.  The Hawks are maxed out with the deal they gave Joe Johnson and they are going to have to pay Horford too.  So,...when you have an opportunity to lead your team on national stage during the playoffs, now is the time to step up. 

Prediction: Can Howard keep his cool during the playoffs?  If I'm the Hawks I find out quick with Jason Collins just cleaning his clock.  Can the Magic hit the 3 ball consistently?  Will Howard dominate Horford and the rest of the Hawks front line?  Are the Magic mentally tough?  Lots of questions, not many answers.  Hawks 4-3.

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