Right now, the Orlando faithful are scratching their heads.
Last season, it looked so easy. This year, not so much.
During the 2009-10 postseason, the Magic swept Charlotte and then Atlanta before losing to Boston in six during the Eastern Conference finals. Remember?
Well, obviously the Magic don’t remember how “easy” it was to blow through the Eastern Conference playoffs since one of the teams listen above, Atlanta, is giving them quite the headache right now.
They sit at 3-1 against a Hawks team that is well, a lot better than them. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson are shooting lights out. The two have scored a combined 176 points in the four, low scoring games so far this series with Crawford averaging 24 points a game and Johnson putting up 20.
On the other end, Atlanta has essentially let Dwight Howard do whatever he wants on the floor. He is having his best postseason yet with 32 points and 17 rebounds a game including a 46-point performance in game one (a loss).
Orlando and New York made the biggest trades of the regular season but now it’s not looking like neither really did enough. The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony trade didn’t help them get out of the first round and now it’s looking like the Magic’s wheeling and dealing isn’t helping them out much as well. Jason Richardson was acquired from Phoenix but was suspended for game four for pushing the Hawks’ Zaza Pachulia. He hit a key three pointer in their game two win but has only been putting up just over 8 points a night.
The Magic could have definitely used that three pointer in game four but instead gave the shot to another player they acquired this year in Hedo Turkoglu. In the waning minutes of the game, Stan Van Gundy had his squad run a play to put the ball in Hedo’s hands. Al Horford tipped it and the play never really had a chance as Turkoglu took an off balance shot to tie it. He too is having a dismal series with just over 7 points a game.
Game four’s second half belonged to Gilbert Arenas who is also new to Orlando. He even brought the game to within two points with a jumper under the basket with 22 seconds left in the fourth. However, you may want to blame Van Gundy for not putting the ball in his hottest player’s hand when the game was winding down. He too is having a forgettable first round with only 9 points a game with 6 in game one, 2 in game two, none in game three and 20 in game four. The old point guard only has six assists in the entire series.
However, it’s not just the new kids on the block that are holding the Magic back. We stated that J.J. Redick would be an x factor in this matchup but so far, he’s been pretty bad as well. Five points a game including zero in game four by shooting 0 for 6 from the four. Same goes for Ryan Anderson who is in his second season with Orlando. We thought that he would be used to spread the defense thin by playing alongside Howard but he is mainly being used to rest the big guy. He’s only hit four shots from the floor against the Hawks and only putting up 3 points a night. He’s only contributing defensively but Orlando needs to be scoring a lot.
The only Magic we are seeing from Orlando is a disappearing act. With only one player showing up in Dwight, this series could be over very soon for Stan Van Gundy and company. Right now, they are being outplayed in nearly ever facet: the Hawks are scoring against them and shutting down all of their role players.