Quantcast 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Round One - Orlando vs Atlanta


2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference First Round

Eastern Conference First Round Game 3 - Atlanta 88, Orlando 84 – Hawks lead series, 2-1



Two Southeastern neighbors in the NBA are developing a bit of nastiness in what once was a lopsided rivalry. The injection of emotion into the equation is just what the Atlanta Hawks have been needing in their attempt to gain newfound legitimacy in the pro basketball community.

One year ago, the Hawks put up no fight at all against the Orlando Magic. The boys from Georgia lost four games by a total of 101 points, the largest such cumulative margin of the defeat in the history of the NBA playoffs. Atlanta meekly submitted to the Magic and quietly absorbed four beatdowns. The Hawks were humiliated by the pathetic showing and were viewed with derision by their colleagues in the profession. One year later, it’s clear that the Hawks have learned a number of lessons. If they can stay the course, they just might be able to pull off an upset few people felt they could produce.

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Yes, the Hawks have literally taken the fight to the Magic this time around in the playoffs. After not backing down from Orlando in a game that included a genuine dust-up, it was the Hawks who had the last laugh in the end. Jamal Crawford scored 18 second half points, including a banked in 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left, to give Atlanta an insurmountable four point lead and the upper hand in this best-of-seven battle, which has become testy and heated to a considerable degree.

It’s just the way the Hawks like it.  

The Magic and the Hawks are quite familiar with each other. This familiarity has turned to bitter feelings. Tempers flared on Friday night as two players, one from each team, were ejected after an altercation. Orlando’s Dwight Howard was fouled hard by Atlanta’s Zaza Pachulia with 2:22 left in the contest and the Hawks leading by just two points. Magic guard Jason Richardson took issue with the play and he and Pachulia got into a heated confrontation that involved contact. Both were ejected.



Following the skirmish at the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams traded the lead four times. Atlanta’s Al Horford hit a jumper with 46 seconds left to put the Hawks up for good. Crawford scored 23 points while Josh Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds as Atlanta grabbed a 2-1 series lead. After being swept by the Magic during last year’s playoffs, the Hawks have five of seven meetings against Orlando during the season.

The Magic are going to need to receive more help from players not named Dwight Howard if they do not want their season to end early. Howard was solid once again, scoring 21 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Teammates Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson, however, shot a combined 8-of-26. The Magic were just 8-of-28 from long distance. They’re going to have to match Atlanta’s passion – yes, you read that sentence correctly – if they want to advance to round two.


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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer

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