Mike Woodson and the Atlanta Hawks showed a lot of heart and passion after their come-from-behind series win against the Milwaukee Bucks. The consolation prize for advancing to the second round of the playoffs is they get to play the Orlando Magic, a team that they have a hard time matching up against. Orlando, which has won 10 straight games dating back to the regular season, took three of four games from the Hawks this year and won the Southeast Division by six games over Atlanta. As always, Dwight Howard was dominant against the Hawks during the regular season, averaging 21.0 points, 16.8 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game in four meetings with the Hawks.
The Hawks need to shut down Howard and clamp down on the Magic’s perimeter jump shooters if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, but the only problem is that you can’t do both. If Woodson chooses to double-team Howard, they will kick the ball out to the open shooter for a three point shot. So, in my opinion, the Hawks should just try to guard Howard one-on-one and use up all of their fouls with their big bodies on the bench to wear him down as the game goes on. Maybe this is a stupid idea but I feel as though Woodson is going to have to try some unorthodox ways if they are going to stop Howard.
Mike Woodson joined the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio to talk about how the team bounces back from a seven-game series against a rested Magic team, who the vocal leader on the team is, and how the regular season vs. Orlando is going to impact the second round.
How the team bounces back from a seven-game series against a rested Magic team:
“Well they are fresh. We went through a tough series with the Bucks, but that is playoff basketball. Everybody predicts that you should sweep a team, but that is not always the case when you’re playing playoff basketball. The Bucks played extremely well and the we couldn’t get it done until seven games. Now it is on to Orlando. We have had a day of practice, watched some game tape and we’ll have another shootaround tomorrow, go over some more tape and we’ll start tomorrow night against Orlando.”
Whether he can bottle the way the Hawks played in Games 6 and 7 and bring it on the road with them:
“I sure hope so because our backs were up against the wall after losing game 5, a game that we controlled all the way up to the 3:50 mark and gave it away. A sign of a good team is a team that can go back and get it back and I thought we stepped up big time in game 6 in a hostile environment and played from beginning to end. We were able to bring it back home for game seven and win it in grand style. I think we did that yesterday because our defense was fantastic. If we can take those two games to Orlando, we’ll be just fine.”
Who the vocal leader on the team is:
“Well I think that Al Horford kind of stepped to the forefront. Joe Johnson has done it by example, his play on the floor. Mike Bibby has been kind of more of a spokesman, he and Josh Smith, but I think Al Horford more than anybody. He has been the guy in this past series that has really stepped up and kind of pointed fingers and got guys in the right direction. You are going to need that from everybody. I mean it is OK to bicker and police each other but you’ve got to make sure that you steer that in the right direction and it being somewhat positive in terms of helping you win basketball games.”
How the regular season vs. Orlando is going to impact the second round:
“Well again the very first time we played Orlando we were up eleven at halftime and it went up to as many as thirteen to start the third quarter and then we just couldn’t score the ball. They had a lot to do with it with great defense, but I still thought that we had great shots, shots that we have made all year that did not just… They were able to come out of there with a win and we didn’t fare well in the two games in Orlando and we bounced back in our last game against them with the play of a really sound basketball game all the way to the end when Josh Smith tipped it in for the game winner.”
Tags: 2010 NBA Playoffs, division opponents, Eastern Conference Semifinals, Has improved the team's win total for the past 5 years, Hawks to take on the Magic, Hawks vs. Magic, Mike Woodson, Orlando vs. Atlanta