Critics of the NBA often say the games aren’t fun to watch because players rarely play with effort. Many of those critics will admit that the lack of effort stereotype goes out the window during the playoffs.
The enigmatic Atlanta Hawks defied the norm Tuesday with one of the worst playoff performances in recent history.
The Magic led by as many as 46 points in Game 1 en route to a 114-71 thrashing of the Hawks.
Despite having an eight day layoff, Orlando looked sharp from the opening tip. Atlanta, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found.
The numbers only tell part of the story.
The Magic outscored the Hawks 28-10 in the second quarter and 32-11 in the third quarter. Joe Johnson had a rough night, finishing with 10 points and five turnovers in 29 minutes. Al Horford was 1-of-7. Mike Bibby scored two points. The Magic outrebounded the Hawks 53 to 35.
Jamal Crawford’s night epitomized the Hawks struggles: Five points on 1-of-11 shooting in 35 minutes. His +/- for Game 1: an unbelievable -35.
There’s nothing wrong with having an off night, even in the playoffs. It happens. But the primary reason for Atlanta’s problems in Game 1 was a pronounced lack of effort and an abundance of selfish play.
Whether it was Jameer Nelson making a layup with Josh Smith not bothering to make a play on the ball or Vince Carter slowly cutting down the lane for an open dunk, the Hawks offered little resistance.
On the offensive end, the Hawks almost never made the extra pass, a characteristic that has become the norm in the ATL late in the season.
The most willing passer on the Hawks is power forward Josh Smith, one of the biggest knuckleheads in the NBA.
The Hawks would need to play perfect basketball to beat the Magic. At this point, it’s safe to say that isn’t going to happen.
However, it would be nice to see the Hawks offer even the slightest amount of resistance to the Magic.