The reason the Atlanta Hawks are up 3-1 in this series and can close out the Orlando Magic tonight — and the difference between the 2009 Magic that went to the finals and the 2011 Magic about to be eliminated in the first round — was summed up nicely by Stan Van Gundy (via ESPN):
“We don’t have the Jamal Crawford or a Joe Johnson, guys who can break you down off the dribble,” Van Gundy said in what seemed like a subtle swipe at his limited roster.
I don’t think it was that subtle.
The core of what the Magic did was always Dwight Howard inside and three point shooters outside. But back in 2009 there was always Hedo Turkoglu having the playoffs of his life, creating shots off the pick-and-roll and when simple post plays work. And Hedo was draining long contested threes.
This series, the Magic are shooting 22 percent from three as a team. Maybe tonight is the night that damn breaks open and threes rain down from the sky in Orlando. But, we’ve been waiting for that storm for four games.
We’ve also been waiting for Jamal Crawford to cool off for four games. After a season where he struggled he’s back to doing a lot of isolation and having a lot of success. Atlanta has gone away somewhat from the motion offense Larry Drew tried to put in and back to more isolation. Which works because they have a lot of isolation players, it turns out.
For one game, I expect the Magic will make enough threes, play with enough desperation and find a way to eek out a win in this series. But whether they can do it again in a Game 6 in Atlanta? That would take a trip back in time a couple years.
Kobe Bryant reflected, told stories and showed his emotions.
For nearly 25 minutes, the Lakers star talked about his pending retirement. It was pretty cool.
DeAndre Jordan‘s free-throw problems – 38.7% this season, 41.5% for his career – are mental.
You can’t watch this trip to the line and convince me otherwise.
Nene hurt his calf. Drew Gooden is banged up. Martell Webster is out for the season.
Those are three players the Wizards expected to play power forward this season.
So, Washington – which has lost four straight – will bring in another big man: Ryan Hollins.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Wizards have a full roster of 15 players. They don’t qualify for a hardship exemption, which a team gets if four players have missed three straight games and will continue to be out. Only Webster and Alan Anderson definitely fit that bill. Gooden, who has missed five straight, might. But it’s unclear both how many of those absences were due to injury and when he’ll return.
So, Washington will have to waive someone to sign Hollins now. It’ll probably be Webster, whose $5,845,250 2016-17 salary is just $2.5 million guaranteed. If he’s out for the year and the Wizards plan to drop him by the summer to clear cap space, why not just do it now?
Hollins is more center than power forward and doesn’t appear to fit well with Marcin Gortat. But at this point, Washington just needs big bodies. Hollins – a nine-year veteran who plays decent interior defense, lacks offensive skill and rebounds poorly for his 7-foot frame – is at least that.
Sometimes – as Kristaps Porzingis sees against Dwight Howard – it’s more flattering just to play James Harden-level defense.