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

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference First Round

Eastern Conference First Round Game 4 - Atlanta 88, Orlando 85 – Hawks lead series, 3-1

 

 

The Orlando Magic are on the brink of elimination, and few people in the NBA community have a ready explanation for why this is the case.

Following a tough three-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night at Philips Arena, a startling turnaround is very much in the works. Atlanta, a team Orlando swept in last year’s postseason, is now just one win away from gaining sweet revenge despite having most of its 2010 roster intact. Verily, the Magic are just one loss away from an early summer, all because they’re now unable to solve the team it crushed by 101 points in last year’s playoffs.

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The Magic were nothing short of atrocious from long distance in Game 4, shooting a paltry 2-of-23 beyond the arc.  That’s fatal for a team that has long depended on its prowess behind the three-point line. Some of the players from the 2009 Eastern Conference champions (Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick) are still around, while others (Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus) are not. However, the stark reality is the same: Orlando can’t hit the side of a barn from three-point range. The inability to make open shots and stretch the defense put more pressure on Dwight Howard, who just can’t beat an opponent all by himself. In the end, it was Atlanta sixth man Jamal Crawford, who has now scored at least 20 points off the bench in all four games of this series, who made the difference for the winners. Crawford scored 25 points and dished out 6 assists in 33 minutes of action. Orlando simply doesn’t have an answer for the electric shooter from the Seattle area.

 

 

Atlanta jumped out to an early nine point halftime advantage only to see Orlando claw its way back in the contest. Howard’s 29 points and 17 rebounds had a lot to do with the Magic’s success. Howard simply didn’t have enough help. Turkoglu was just 2-of-12 from the floor while Redick went 0-for-6. With the Magic trailing 88-85 with 10 seconds remaining, Turkoglu’s three point attempt was off the mark and the Hawks moved one game closer to the second round. Orlando did get an unexpected boost from reserve Gilbert Arenas. The former elite scorer poured in 20 points in just 22 minutes of action to get the Magic back in the contest. Poor overall shooting was just too much for Orlando to overcome, however.

Credit Atlanta for making shots when it mattered. The Hawks were dominated in the paint to the tune of an 18-point differential, 46-28. With the interior strength of the Magic, it became apparent that the Hawks had to make shots in order to remain competitive. They did just that. Atlanta shot 46 percent from the field. Joe Johnson posted 20 points, including four key free-throws in the waning seconds to seal the victory. Al Horford had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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