You’re probably sitting there, asking yourself what kind of ridiculous playoffs preview takes place after the series had already started? After all, you already know which team won the first game thus giving an unfair advantage.
Well, some of us do have jobs so I apologize for the delay.
On a recent internet search for fellow sports sites, I stumbled upon an unabashed, Atlanta Hawks fan who runs the Stubborn Bird. As soon as I found out that the Magic, the team I root for, would play the Hawks, the team he roots for, I challenged him to a blog-off, outlining who would win and why. He graciously accepted. Sucks to be him.
So without further ado since I’m already late, I hereby present a preview of the Orlando Magic-Atlanta Hawks…
Prior to the series opener, fans wondered which team would have the advantage: the Hawks who had just finished a seven-game series against Milwaukee or the Magic who hadn’t faced any competition since sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats eight days ago. The “rest versus rust” argument was answered resoundingly on Tuesday night as the Magic beat Atlanta in historic fashion, showing they hadn’t missed a beat.
Both the Hawks and the Magic were among the NBA’s most consistent teams all season long… and by consistent, I mean consistently good. They faced each other four times with the Magic winning all but one, Atlanta’s lone win coming on a Josh Smith put-back dunk as time expired. So does that mean the Hawks have more confidence after finally beating Orlando or do the Magic know they should have won all four games had they simply boxed out?
If Game One is any indication, Orlando clearly has the upper hand in this series.
Point Guard: Mike Bibby vs. Jameer Nelson
Mike Bibby is the veteran point guard Atlanta wanted to lead their young team to the next level. Jameer Nelson is the youthful point guard Orlando wanted to lead this team into the future. Bibby is solid but he’s not prone to go off for twenty-five points a game. Nelson has been averaging that lately. Nelson gives up three inches and six years experience to Bibby but Nelson has been lights out of late. As he goes, so go the Magic. His pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard is nearly indefensible. If Bibby can’t find a way to put pressure on Jameer, his scoring spree might continue.
Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson vs. Vince Carter
You never know what you’re going to get when either of these guards take the floor. On any given night, they can go off for three or thirty. The big difference in this series is that Atlanta desperately needs Johnson to score while Orlando can get by if Vinsanity has an off night. Johnson has the potential to be one of the league’s best guards. Vince was once in that very same boat. If Atlanta wants any chance to advance, Johnson will not only have to score consistently, but do so efficiently. Meanwhile, for the first time in his career, Carter no longer feels the pressure of leading his team in scoring and it’s reflected in his play. This might be the only position where Atlanta has an edge over Orlando. They’ll have to take advantage if they want to move on.
Small Forward: Marvin Williams vs. Matt Barnes
Now with his seventh team, Barnes was acquired by Orlando last summer primarily for his defense. But that’s not all he brings to the table. Barnes provides a little bit of everything: offense, rebounding, energy, experience and toughness. He knows his limits and plays within the context of the game which is exactly what makes him such a good fit in Orlando. After four years in the league, Marvin Williams is still trying to find himself. He was the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft and has yet to live up to that potential. Atlanta needs him to show up in this series but he has yet to convince me that he can.
Power Forward: Josh Smith vs. Rashard Lewis
I was skeptical when Orlando signed Rashard Lewis to a max deal three years ago. But his style of play fits with Orlando’s persona. The Magic work the ball inside out, boasting a slew of perimeter shooters and opening things up for Dwight in the middle. Even though Lewis is a defensive liability against larger power forwards, he makes up for it on the offensive end. Smith was recently voted onto the NBA’s second team all-defense but Lewis is a tough cover. He made huge baskets for Orlando during last year’s Finals run. Meanwhile Smith’s offensive game isn’t nearly as well-rounded. He might be one of the more impressive dunkers in the game but it will take more than a former Slam Dunk champion to get past the Magic.
Slight Edge: Orlando
Center: Al Horford vs. Dwight Howard
I’m one of the biggest Al Horford fans out there. Horfy was the best player on a team that brought my alma mater back-to-back national championships. But he can’t stick Dwight Howard. Few can. Horford is a power forward, not a center and Howard is the best center in the league meaning Horford gives up too much size and strength. The Hawks can not afford to have him in foul trouble. Now comes word that Howard has worked in his mental game. A cerebral Dwight Howard is a scary thing. Of course, he’ll have to adjust to the way NBA refs are officiating him. The Magic can’t afford to have Dwight play limited minutes as he did against Charlotte. That being said, Howard should be able to figure that out and have a dramatic effect on the series.
Bench: Jamal Crawford, Zaza Pachulia, Maurice Evans and Jason Collins vs. J.J. Reddick, Mickael Pietrus, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams and Martin Gortat
Jamal Crawford won this year’s Sixth Man of the Year Award by averaging 18 points a game. Atlanta will need all that and more as Orlando’s bench is deeper and better on both ends of the floor. Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins will be called upon more for their defense on Dwight Howard than for their scoring. Meanwhile, Pietrus has proven he’s the offensive spark off the bench the Magic need. And Gortat is probably the best back-up center in the league.
Coaching: Mike Woodson vs. Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy gets a bad rap. He was run out of Miami and replaced by Pat Riley who eventually won a title. Ever since then, he’s had a chip on his shoulder. He’s proven he has the talent with this Orlando team and more importantly, his players have his back. Van Gundy led the Magic to post-season wins over both Boston and Cleveland on his way to the Finals last year. This year’s team is better and so is Stan Van. Woodson has yet to prove he can win a series that matters.
The Hawks roster is loaded with young talent. But the main difference between Orlando and Atlanta is that Atlanta’s parts don’t yet equal a championship whole. To paraphrase Charles Barkley, Orlando is the bettuh teeeam. They’re better in both transition and the half-court set. That became painfully evident for Hawks fans in Game One as Orlando dominated every aspect of the game, rattling off 19-0 and 13-3 runs with relative ease. Atlanta may have just beaten the Milwaukee Bucks but in Game One, they were the deer in the headlights.
Prior to watching Game One, I was inclined to pick Orlando in seven games but after watching Tuesday’s beat-down, I’m going with Orlando in five. They’re too big, too talented, too strong, too determined and pose way too many match-up problems for the Hawks.
Expect Orlando to roll through Atlanta and have time off once again while they wait for the winner of the Boston-Cleveland series.
After Game One’s ‘statement game,’ does anyone here think Atlanta still has a chance in this series?
Atlanta has problems and Joe Johnson has proven to me that he’s not a big time player in the NBA !
The Hawks have about as much of a chance in this series as me turning down the position of judge at the Miss Caliente padgent.
Phillips Arena in Atlanta is about to become an elephant’s graveyard as the Hawks are going to be buried by the Magic once and for all !
I’m not yet saying I’m pi_sed but what the hell are the Spurs doing ? Two games played in the series and there’s been an an 8 pt loss and a 9 pt loss. Either they man up or go home. It’s as plain and simple as that !
The Suns have us with our backs against a wall bent over holding both ankles. Whoops there it is ! That tingling sensation now being felt is the finger probe courtesy of the Suns !
I’m with you…Magic in 5. I think the way Stan the Van mixed up lineups during the latter part of the regular season is going to be KEY in the remainder of the playoffs. We not only have the best second lineup in the NBA, we have solid individual players on the bench with whom the starters have meshed in various lineup combinations. I’m going to watch how and when Ryan Anderson plays for Lewis. I love my Magic but I’m not sure I agree with Lewis over Smith. He hasn’t been as consistent as he was last season. BLUE AND WHITE…IGNITE!
Personally, Al, I’ve never quite understood the love affair with Joe Johnson.
I’m sure you’re plenty qualified and of course entirely impartial.
I’m actually quite surprised San Antonio was unable to take one of these first two.
I have to tell you, with Denver and Dallas both bowing out early, things are lining up rather nicely for a Lakers return to the NBA Finals.
I’ll give you that, Elizabeth, which is why I only put “Slight Edge” for Orlando in the power forward match-up.
The only reason I did so is because a) I think Lewis’ game is more polished b) he’s proven he can be a big time shooter on a championship level team c) I think he’ll stretch out the Hawks’ defense.
But I think you’re right. You convinced me Atlanta as the advantage at that position and I haven’t had my coffee yet.
Atlanta will be gone on 4 games, the Celtics will be done by the Magics on 6 games And the Lakers will done on 6 games. Final deal Magics the Champs. By the way chump what happen to you the other day.
Te mande un email.
No lo recibiste?
I’ve always loved the way Barnes plays! I never could figure out why he can’t stick on a team, because the guy is always great for a team in any situation you put him in!
I expected a lot more out of the Hawks, your Stubborn Bird friend has a lot of work to convince me that they can win. Who would you rather face Cleveland or Boston?
Yes I got it
You have a job?
Joe Johnson is a legend in his own mind and that’s it !
You saw my comments concerning the Spurs didn’t you ? I ain’t holding anything back ! They stunk up the joint !
As I said earlier the loss of George Karl impaired the Nuggets mentally and competitively. It’s like the Magic or Lakers being asked to play without their respective coaches being courtside. Do you think any team can handle a situation like that and not feel hampered ?
I just hope that Karl can overcome his medical difficulties at present . He’s one of the good guys in the league !
So was it one upmanship being used by Calipari in order to get a contract extension ? I mean he’s only been with the Wildcats a year and now they’re offering a 7 yr contract extension ? What happens when the program becomes the center of an NCAA probe ? What then ?
I know that at least four of the five guys on the team are NBA bound . But man , oh man , if he were to believe then there’d be a lynch mob after his _ss within the state !
Chap… Stubborn Bird is conspicuously absent these days. Oh well. Maybe he knew what was coming.
And I absolutely LOVED the Barnes pick up as soon as it happened. Can you believe he’s been on that many teams over the years? I think he’s a perfect fit. Heck, he’s worked his way into the starting lineup.
Salsero… You tell me what night is best for you guys to all get away and I’ll be there.
I know the man has you working 80 hour weeks and that you value your sleep.
It’s not like the Magic will be eliminated any time soon.
Didn’t you know you were reading fiction?
Aside from the Magic dominating Atlanta, that is.
Yet Joe Johnson still makes third team all-NBA.
Do you mean to tell me he’s the third best guard in the league? Is the NBA that guard-weak at the two spot? What about the season Stephen Jackson had, lifting the Bobcats or maybe Monta Ellis? Is there that much of a drop-off after Kobe and Dwyane?
I thought that the streets of NYC are littered crack ‘ho’s and skanks ? So why is “LT” allegedly committing sexual battery on a 16 yr old female ? What he’s learned nothing from the “sexploits” of Ben Roethlisberger ?
So there’s been a sighting of Barry Zito playing baseball ? What with that gargantuan $126 million contract I thought he was set for life !
Now he’s actually trying to prove that he’s worth it three years after his John Hancock put pen to paper. If only all jobs were like that eh ?
Of course they are if you’re up on Capitol Hill DC. Ol’ boys’ network and a number interns to get your swerve on with . Never mind that there are lobbyists there waiting to wine and dine you. Let’s not forget also corrupt you. Ah the cushy life of being a federal legislator . All this crap ’bout Liberals and Conservatives ! The only difference ‘tween the two is the “size of the jack” (money via the lobbyists) they can pull down illegally while allegedly serving their constituents .
We’re Not Amused ! I Get It ……….. It’s Not A Joke Barry Zito Can Still Pitch …………….
And regarding Karl, Al, we both agree it’s a shame that his health has deteriorated so. Both our prayers go out to him and his family.
That being said, I don’t think that the Lakers would have melted down in similar fashion only because they’re not nearly as dysfunctional as the Nuggets.
Karl was the glue that held them together. The Lakers are a lot more headstrong; the Nuggets are far from it. They needed Karl and when they lost his leadership, you saw the result.
You know how high I was on that Nuggets team. But they obviously couldn’t do it without their leader.
So when does the white flag of surrender come out courtesy of the Hawks ?
Women and children are dying in Atlanta watching the Hawks. It’s become too much to bare and families are now on the verge of separating because of this .
Stop the massacre please !
Couldn’t LT have traveled up to the state of Indiana and find himself a grandmother to have sex with ? I mean it seems to have worked with the 72 yr old grandmother (Pearl Carter ) and her grandson . I’m sure that some of these women would be dying to get themselves in bed with their own black stud ! And no doubt LT would be only too willing to please.
It’s as the old adage says …….” once you’ve had black you never go back” .
And it probably beats doing needlepoint , crocheting or pleasuring themselves with fruit and vegetables wouldn’t you think ?
Re: Calipari, Al.
You would think UK would have to understand what they’re getting with Coach Cal.
But I’ll always feel they’ll rue the day they ran Tubby Smith out of town.
Trust me, Al.
I’d much rather read about Barry Zito’s success than Lawrence Taylor’s failures.
Al… Atlanta gave Orlando all they wanted for three quarters. But when Orlando’s hitting shots, they’re just too much to handle.
Atlanta is like the NBA’s Villanova, plus a few inches. They have a bunch of 6’5″ to 6’9″ guys. Oversized but undersized.
They might have to break up this team, or at least tweak, if they want to take it to the next level.
LT has become the ‘poster child’ for everything that an NFL player shouldn’t aspire to become.
Oops ! Russell gets cut by the Raiders but yet somehow Pacman Jones gets signed by the Bengals. What the hell is that front office thinking to begin with ? That’s another train wreck waiting to happen at full speed with all of the bystanders waiting in line to see the fallout wreckage left in his quake.
So did LT pay for sex or did the _itch set him up allegedly ? How the hell can you not discern between a 21 yr old and someone underage ?
Calipari marches to the beat of an opened pocketbook and kids who are impressionable. Need one say anymore ?
OK so at one point am I bound to take an interest in this Red Sox Yankees’ series this weekend ? When A-Rod tries to throw down with Varitek or when he get his a_s kicked by one of the Red Sox’s bat boys ?
I know it’s still a rivalry but with the Rays’ initial success this season this matchup as such becomes somewhat secondary don’t you think ?
One of your best and most comprehensive analysis yet!
Al… you’re right about that. Aside from OJ Simpson, LT is setting new low standards for former football players.
Pacman Jones comes off looking like a saint after this guy’s antics.
Al… let’s put it this way.
If the Red Sox drop three games in this Yanks series, there probably won’t be a need to watch them the rest of the season.
PJD… why thank you, sir.
Good watching that 4th quarter with ya’ last night.
We have to make that road trip soon.
It’s truly hard not to like Barnes when he’s on your team. If the Lakers and Magic are in the finals against eachother, I’ll have fun watching Barnes D-up Kobe. I remember he would frustrate Kobe at times when he was on the Warriors playind D against Kobe, but then again, Kobe would still get his…
I thought Atlanta was going to lay down, but they showed up for three more quarters than they did in game one!
Atlanta’s tough. They won’t go down without a fight. The only question is if they’re better.
One reporter asked Al Horford a great question in the post-game press conference last night.
He asked whether Atlanta thought they could beat Orlando.
After hesitating a bit, Horford said yes, but you can’t help but wonder if doubt has begun to creep into that locker room.
If my sister weren’t married I think I’d let her date Pacman but for a minute !
What happens when Marvin Lewis is unable to separate him from Ochocinco durin’ a brawl ? Do the rest of team and the coaching staff literally cheer them on as if they were battling gladiators ?
Al Horford misunderstood the question. He was actually asked do you cry when you lose ? His actual reply was …..” I don’t cry but I do think about the time in high school when I lost out to a girl in a spelling bee contest it made me so sad” !
You’ve got to admit either LT was “coked up” or he must’ve thought he was gonna get some for free ?
Why doesn’t he take a play out of Charles’ (Barkley’s) handbook and get a street walker to satisfy his needs ? Whoop there it is !
It takes one moron merely to punch in the wrong code and it essentially sends Wall St and the world’s financial markets almost to its knees yesterday. There’s a lesson to be learned there somewhere ! I hope that the executives of Goldman Sachs got the message loud and clear !
Cause next time ’round the bloodbath ain’t gonna be nice and there won’t be enough money ’bout to bail out a bucket full of fecal matter !
Red Sox Yankees’ matchup ? No tingling sensation down my spine or in the nether regions . I wonder why ?
Must be from the fact that I saw Oprah in a two piece bathing suit . Oh yeah there’s got to be something wrong when Oprah is more provides more of an interest than a game ‘tween the Red Sox and Yankees !
Tha Crossroads ………. See Ya’ At The Crossroads …….. So You Won’t Be Lonely ……
I love me some Horford, Al. The Hawks would suck without him.
Did you hear Hubie Brown get on Josh Smith last night for his lack of hustle? That’s exactly why I gave the Magic the nod on advantage in the PF position.
I’ll have an alternate take up on the LT predicament soon.
Al… I’ll pay attention to the Sox-Yanks and may even tune in as long as it doesn’t go up against NBA Playoffs.
I just can’t get into full baseball mode until the NBA season gives us some closure.
But the Sox need to string together some W’s.
Closure is what’s ’bout to happen to Woodson’s Hawks ! That team has really surprised me with their lack of allround effort ! I mean they’re now on par with the pitiful Mavericks and it takes a lot to even get down to that level !
Even lowest invertebrates in nature aren’t as weak as the Mavs under Carlisle and Cuban ! That team sorely misses Avery Johnson as well Don Nelson . Which is more than anyone in their front office is willing to admit.
In your own words ……..” Atlanta is tough and they won’t go down without a fight “. That’s the same thing they said ’bout the French in WWII and look who had to end up bailin’ their poor a_s out ? Be careful with your choice of word as it could come back to bite you in the rear end .
Each of these allegedly had potential ? Eric Crouch , Akili Smith , Ryan Leaf, Lawrence Phillips , Dermot ‘Big Country ‘ Reeves , Darius Miles and Ty Tryon. And not one of ’em did anything worthwhile professionally. The same can be said of Arenas “007” and Joe Johnson.
Paid big money to lead and they’ve failed their respective organization abysmally ! Johnson is no leader and he’s absolutely gutless ! What team in their right mind is going to pay his asking price when he continually fails to deliver ? The NBA isn’t the federal government or one of their odious overseas’ contractors in the Middle East.
you have a job? GO, MAGIC!
Speaking of lack of all-round effort, let’s talk about your Spurs, Al.
I can’t wait to read your post of submission… hopefully you’ll mention the lack of solid San Antonio guard play.
Phoenix has destroyed you guys in the backcourt.
Regarding Atlanta, Al, we’ll see if they show up Saturday like San Antonio showed up on Saturday night.
If so, that series will be over just as quickly.
Of those names you mentioned, I honestly thought Lawrence Phillips would have fared well at the next level. Just not sure his head was in the right place.
Hey, they are such things as bad investments… in all walks of life.
When you mention Phillips’ head which one are you actually talking about ?
Horford is the only player on the Hawks’ team that I’d watch . The rest of ’em aren’t worth the time of day !
LT has been setting low standards since he bragged to CBS’s Mike Wallace that he had a $5000 a wk coke habit as well as bangin’ anywhere between five or six women a day when he was “coked up”.
Now that’s guy that kids can aspire to be like . Not ! Great player in his day but now he’s become a complete dumb a_s ! I pity his wife and kids down in South Florida (Pembroke Pines area ) . It has to be extremely embarrassing for them at this juncture. And his lawyer isn’t exactly helping the situation by professing LT’s innocence given the details as we know it. He was in the room with the female and something sexual did take place. That’s all it’ll take to get him sentenced.
If LT can’t discern the difference ‘tween a 16 yr old female and someone of the legal age then he shoul’ve left the room altogether ! What a jack-off !
My Spurs are toast ! They’ve laid a monumental goose egg in this series against the Suns !
I just thought Phillips had the physical tools. He obviously didn’t have the mental ones.
Horford is the man but until the Hawks tweak that lineup, they’re not surpassing either Cleveland or Orlando.
LT’s a troubled soul, Al. Why else would anyone brag about something like that or be where he’s not supposed to be?
And yes… say buenas noches in both Atlanta and San Antonio.
Good stuff. I just found your blog while searching around in Google. I’m looking for some information on removing some nasty bug my computer got that sends pop-ups to my screen. I cant even search the internet from my computer because it keeps taking me to some sales page for a virus cleaner. I’m not stupid enough to fall for that one. I had to use an old laptop just to search around for some help. OK, back to the point. I found your blog, now I’m off to find some help. You seem knowledgable on the subject, if you get a chance, how about posting some info to help with one of these pop-up virus things? I’m sure I’ll be back later and probably be infected again. 🙁 Thanks Mate!