Tag:Brandon Bass
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:00 pm
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Brandon Bass out 10-14 days

Posted by Royce Young

The Celtics are a team that need their depth because they're older and in this lockout condensed season. But one part of it will be missing for the 10-14 days as Brandon Bass because of an inflammation in his right knee.

Via ESPN Boston:
Bass felt some discomfort in the knee during a win over the New York Knicks on Feb. 3. He sat out the following game against the Memphis Grizzlies, but played in three games last week. Rivers said the news came as a bit of a surprise to him, as he was informed by team trainer Eddie Lacerte on Sunday morning that Bass almost certainly will be out through the All-Star break, which begins Feb. 23.

"We knew his knee was bothering him, but then he got the treatment, and he missed that one game," Rivers said. "There was nothing said after the Toronto game. Then Eddie called me this morning and told me he was out, and out for a while. That was a surprise."

The Celtics are already kind of scratching and clawing their way along so losing their top reserve player for two weeks isn't something to just dismiss. Boston needs their depth as much as anyone and have already been hit hard by injuries and other things.

Behind him the Celtics have Chris Wilcox, but he's been starting because of an injury to Jermaine O'Neal. Rookie JaJuan Johnson saw big minutes Sunday against the Bulls and produced relatively well.

Bass, who was acquired for Glen Davis right before the season, is averaging 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, both career-highs.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 12:29 pm
 

Report Card: A's and F's

Kevin Garnett and the Celtics embarrassed the Magic Monday night in Boston. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore

Your nightly report grade gives you the overview of what went on in the NBA. Share your grades with us on Faceboook or Twitter. 

Celtics effort

I'm not trying to dog the Celtics by saying that the execution wasn't there. But they didn't magically get younger. They were still slower than the Magic, still weaker than the Magic. But they showed the effort and intensity that made this team a title contender for four years. And that's going to carry them a long way, especially on nights when the opponent rolls over and dies like the Magic did. Celtics are on a win streak. Are they finally back?

Orlando Magic

Gameplan. Effort. Focus. Effort. Intensity. Effort. Cohesion. Effort. Everything went wrong for the Magic Monday night, but their effort was atrocious. Jameer Nelson let second-year man Avery Bradley get into his skull and turn him over constantly. Dwight Howard was failing to keep position or even jump against Kevin Garnett's half-centimeter hook shot. Brandon Bass stole Glen Davis' lunch money and pretty much ended any conversation about who got the better end of that sign-and-trade. This was one of the most pathetic performances I've seen by an NBA team this season and I've seen the Wizards and Nets play six times each.

Emeka Okafor's game-saving block

Down two against the Hornets, San Antonio ran a picture-perfect play which resulted in Tony Parker dishing to a wide open Tiago Splitter racing down the lane for what would have been a clinching dunk. Emeka Okafor recovered weak side and blocked him. No, I'm sorry, block is too weak a word. He obliterated him. He erased him. He undid Tiago Splitter and all seven feet of him to spark the possession that would tie the game. The Hornets lost the game, but it was honestly one of the best plays of the season.




Tim Duncan's game-winning hook:


Running, across the lane, from fifteen feet, for the win, simply net. Old man can still do work. Game, folks. Drive safe




The Washington Wizards

If this were actual school we would have told the parents the Wizards need to pursue repeating the D-League grade. They had as many assists as a team as Andre Iguodala in the first half. They lost by double-digits. They were down 30 after the first 24 minutes of play. They are bad. Still. 


The Rockets' balance

The Rockets only had a four-man bench, but they provided 36 points. Kyle Lowry had a triple-double. Kevin Martin was all kinds of special. And after a Kevin Love three took the lead for the Wolves, the Rockets responded by hammering the Wolves into nothingness. Very impressive win over a game Wolves team.


Ricky-Rubio-Kevin-Love connection

The two are concocting something special. Rubio dished four behind the back passes that I saw Monday night to Love on the perimeter. You can't defend Love's shot on the perimeter for the entire possession. With a point guard that can find him at any point, it makes it nearly impossible to defend. 


Philadelphia, Chicago and Oklahoma City versus garbage teams

They should have won by twenty. They won by twenty. The end.



Memphis Grizzlies


You just... cannot kill this team. The Grizzlies stormed back from down 16 in the fourth quarter to edge the Warriors, crushing the Dubs with yet another fourth quarter loss. They needed to create steals, they created steals. They needed to hit big shots, the hit big shots (including a Rudy Gay ice-cold turnaround). They needed to make free throws to ice it, they iced it. They needed to stop Monta Ellis, Marc Gasol hedged him all the way to the corner and avoided the foul. The Grizzlies' wild ride of the past two seasons continues. 

Golden State Warrirors



The 2012 Golden State Warriors. Motto? No lead is too big to lose! The irony of their biggest win being against the Heat because the Heat collasped down the stretch is just stunning.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:48 pm
 

2011 NBA Free Agency Winners and Losers



By Matt Moore


All the big names have landed, and while there are still a handful of guys working out where they'll be playing in 2011-2012, we have a pretty clear image of how free agency worked out this year. So to give you a recap on how teams managed to do, here are your winners and losers for NBA free agency.

Winners

New York Knicks: It takes a lot for them to get a winning status when they picked up Mike Bibby and re-signed Jared Jeffries. Tyson Chandler is a lot. Chandler gives them exactly what they need at center, for a reasonable price considering he's coming off winning the Finals as a difference maker starter and compliments Amar'e Stoudemire well. This could wind up as a disaster, but for pursuing defense over offense and size over speed, they get into the winner's circle.

Los Angeles Clippers: Two days ago I would have planted the Clippers in the losers circle with a dunce cap. $24 million for Caron Butler over three years? DeAndre Jordan for a ridiculous price? Are they stoned in Clipperland? Chauncey Billups who may or may not hate the ground you walk on for denying him free agency? But then they landed Chris Paul. And you go "Oooooooh" like you just figured out that they got off the island and it's a flash-forward not a flash-back. Shooters to go with Paul, veteran defenders to go with Paul, and the big man to provide long-term support for Griffin. The Clippers avoided disaster by getting CP3. But funny how that makes everything seem better.

Miami Heat: Eddy Curry already looks like a waste (has had conditioning issues already). Mario Chambers is a divisive point guard, but he's good enough to start for a team with no cap space. Landing Shane Battier, though, genius. Battier is going to miss threes like all Heat spot-up shooters do. But he's going to make their defensive rotations even better, their team chemistry even better, their basketball IQ even higher. He's worth the money and a win for them.

Indiana Pacers: We were all convinced the Pacers were going to splash onto the scene and overpay for a big man in such a way as to cripple the franchise. Instead, they got David West on a low eight-figures, 2-year deal that guarantees if his knees or production go, they have options and are not stuck. They re-signed Jeff Foster to give them another center, and they were prudent with not re-signing Josh McRoberts for more than he was worth. Good upgrade for them.

Phoenix Suns: Shannnon Brown is a great fit for the system, and they managed to convince Grant Hill to return. Brown in the run-and-gun system under Gentry should excel with Aaron Brooks stuck in China. Hill still played brilliantly last season and staying in Phoenix means he stays with that training staff which has extended his career after one filled with injury issues. The Suns didn't make any significant step forward, but in terms of just making good value signings, they did as well as most. 

Mid-level centers: Kwame Brown got one-year, $7 million. DeAndre Jordan made out like a bandit. Marc Gasol walked away with more money than Kendrick Perkins and Nene (though Gasol is arguably the best free agent in this class, just without the name value). It's a league short on legitimate star centers, and while the biggest free agent center names (Chandler, Nene, Greg Oden) did not land monstrous deals, the mid-level centers available rose up to meet in the middle of the band. Good year to get paid. 

Losers

Boston Celtics: They had David West stolen out from under them in the midst of the Chris Paul debacle. They re-signed Marquis Daniels which isn't bad but isn't great. They traded Glenn Davis in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass which is pretty good but doesn't address most of their concerns. They gave Jeff Green a big one-year deal after which it was discovered he will miss the entire season after surgery when a heart condition was revealed after a stress test. Their bench is unbearably thin with starters that can't log big minutes. No, it was not a good few weeks for the Celtics.

Orlando Magic: Giving Jason Richardson and Glen Davis mid-size contracts is not the way to keep Dwight Howard, I don't care how good a friend he is with them. The Magic sacrificed their future, which is going to become very important to them in the next six months, in order to try and make another run with the same team that didn't succeed last year, plus Davis who is a big who doesn't help their issues in rebounding and has conditioning issues. Re-signing Earl Clark doesn't make a big enough impact to matter.

Detroit Pistons: Re-signing Tayshaun Price at that price makes no sense whatsover, especially not for four years. They need to be looking to the future. I understand the desire to reward Prince for his time and send him off in Detroit white, but this team has questions it has to answer quickly, and Prince gets in the way of development for Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko. Rodney Stuckey's re-signing gets in the way of Brandon Knight's development and continues his very mixed-results stay in the Motor City. 

Dallas Mavericks: Maybe 2012 will make up for it. But if we're just judging the Mavericks on what they gave up and what they got back, this wasn't a good offseason. Even outside of the trades which brought in a quality player and sent two out, Dallas lost its starting center and part-time starting two-guard in agency, without really bringing in anyone. They're deep enough to survive it but this was a team that would have been considered favorites had they brought back the gang. As it is, there are questions about the Mavericks this season and beyond.

New Orleans Hornets: Setting aside losing Chris Paul in trade and impending free agency, the Hornets re-signed Carl Landry for a high one-year deal and brought back Jason Smith for three years. The deals are cheap. It's not a bad set of deals. But it's still a little perplexing considering the overwhelming need for this team to tank in order to ensure a top five pick to go with  

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo hasn't signed yet, which isn't a problem but the fact that no team was willing to bother with making him an offer knowing the Nuggets would match means he may not sign for as much as he could have. Bear in mind DeAndre Jordan is a less established player than Afflalo and was helped by the Warriors' attempt to free him from Los Angeles. Afflalo could have likely wound up with top dollar as an unrestricted free agent. Denver may wind up as the best thing for his career, though.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:30 pm
 

Report: Glen Davis traded to Orlando for Bass

Posted by Royce Young

At certain points, Glen Davis was considered a pretty solid free agent acquisition and a major part of the Celtics rotation. But in terms of money, he wasn't fitting. No, not because of his size, but because of the money he wanted.

The Celtics have decided to move on, trading him to Orlando for Brandon Bass in a sign-and-trade, according to Yahoo! Sports.

With the deal being a sign-and-trade, Davis' salary is reportedly for four years and $26 million. Bass is set to make $4 million this season.

It's kind of an odd deal because it's hard to say what the Magic were trying to upgrade here, but Bass will definitely fit in well with the Celtics. He's a hard working player and someone with a good amount of offensive skill that never seemed to fit in to Stan Van Gundy's rotation for whatever reason. He can rebound and hit a little jumper, which are two things Davis did well. It'll probably just be Bass fits in at a cheaper price.

Davis will likely head to Orlando and start at power forward, and will probably be paid more than Bass. And he's not at all a better player. He's not a better defender, not a better shooter and it's up for debate if he's a better rebounder.

It's kind of a minor deal that will be lost in the shuffle of all this madness, but it's a curious one. The Celtics upgrade with a young player that likely just needs more opportunity, but the Magic have acquired an inconsistent tweener that is probably going to be paid too much.
Posted on: December 1, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 10:36 am
 

The Magic Gambit: Orlando should trade for Paul



By Matt Moore
  

Here we are, once again. A small market team reportedly held hostage by their franchise player All-Star and his desire to be traded to the specific team he wants, or else he'll simply depart the home team in free agency, leaving them with nothing. Carmelo Anthony hijacked Denver's season last year, and now Chris Paul is reportedly in a position to do the same to New Orleans. Except when Anthony applied extortion to get his way to Broadway, the Knicks actually had assets to trade to Denver, including Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and Raymond Felton (who eventually became Andre Miller and a pick).

The Knicks now? Not so much.

The Hornets face an impossible position shold they elect to trade Paul. The teams that have the kind of assets to make the trade worth it if Paul elects to state he will only sign with the Knicks (which as Ken Berger notes, he has not done yet) have the kind of market cache to not need to make such a desperate move, or have no shot at a championship and therefore no reason to risk it all.

A team with young players and picks won't waste them to rent Chris Paul for a season, only to watch him walk out the door. After all, there's only one New Jersey Nets out there. (Kidding, Nets fans! D-Will says you're still under consideration!) And teams with superstar talent like Boston or Los Angeles don't have to gamble to win a title. They can just wait on the next superstar available (or just go after Dwight Howard).

So as it stands, the Hornets have no alternative. They'll just have to take whatever the Knicks are offering. There's talk of just letting Paul walk to avoid the embarrassment of taking on the Knicks' garbage heap, but that's nonsense. You don't accept a loss when you can have a gain. Chauncey Billups and Toney Douglas and a pick in 2045 is better than nothing at all.

But... there is another option. It's outside the box. You're going to think I'm nuts. And I'm not prone to posting about trade ideas. There's another site with a trade machine. You can fill your day with moving every player in the league. Everyone partakes from time to time. But this concept? It's the best possible move for both teams.

Orlando needs to trade for Chris Paul.

Hear me out before you close this browser as fast as humanly possible.

The Magic have every reason to trade for Chris Paul without the promise of an extension. With no consideration of the extension, there's nothing to hold up a deal. The Magic are facing the same cliff the Hornets are, staring down the barrell of Dwight Howard's big-market shotgun. They are burdened with pieces which hold no value once Howard is traded. If Howard leaves, they will wind up with a huge amount of salary and no superstar, a terrible team with a supporting structure holding up nothing. They have two options. Win a championship this year or give up and trade Howard for nothing now. Even a move for Andrew Bogut as Berger has said will be discussed won't keep them in title contention. That's what Howard means to a team. That's what an MVP candidate means.

So the only thing left, as the movie quote goes, is to win the whole friggin' thing. (OK, that's not the line, but it's a family site.)

The Magic would trade some combination of Brandon Bass, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Daniel Orton, and Jameer Nelson to the Hornets for Paul, along with a first-round pick in 2012. That's right. The Magic could lose both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul for 2013 and have no first-round pick. Disastrous-sounding, I know. Here's why they do the deal.

Here's the best case scenario. Howard and Paul,playing with another star, the best at their position, along with the supporting pieces in Orlando which would still be better than what the Knicks are likely to trot out onto the court (I'd like to remind you that Jared Jeffries started at center in the playoffs for the Knicks), would likely have the best seasons of their careers if healthy. Versus the trio in Miami or the duet in New York, Howard and Paul are a combination of players who actually mesh together. The best pick and roll center in the league with the best pick and roll point guard. A hyper-efficient perimeter shooter with a center who draws doubles every time on the block. A ball-hawking point guard who can create steals and the best defensive presence in the league. It may not be better than Miami or L.A., but it would be a force to be reckoned with. One season to make a run at the title.

This is the reality of the new NBA. If you want to win a title as a small-market, you have to find lightning in a bottle. Maybe there's no way to even that gap thanks to the inherent draws of bigger markets with more flashbulbs, television appearances, parties and endorsement offers. But if you don't have a once-in-his-lifetime talent and get absurdly lucky along the way, this is your best shot. Mortgage everything on one season.

If it works, and the Magic take home the title, the Paul and Howard will have gone through the transformitive process of winning a title together. Fans in Orlando will worship them. Howard will have done what Shaq never has. And they'll be staring at the possibility of not playing together next year. Even if that's not enough to get them to stay, it'll make them think twice. It's Orlando's best shot. There can be no more "really, Dwight, we'll get it right next time" with Howard. His patience has run out. If they don't win the title, there's no chance he returns. There's little chance even if they do, but it's their best shot, and if they win the title, they get that forever. You can't take that title away from the fans, away from the franchise, away from the team.

And if it doesn't work, if they don't win the title? That's over $34 million in cap space expiring for Orlando. Along with the amnesty of Gilbert Arenas, that's $54 million. That's nearly the NBA salary cap they would be gaining in cap space. The typical response to that is "what does it matter, no one will sign there." From that point on, the objective is not to bring in free agents, it's to rebuild through the draft. That 2012 pick missing is a problem? Not really, because Paul and Howard could give 50 percent effort (something they would never do) and still win 40 games, even in the East. The Magic won't have a lottery pick regardless. Which means the pick holds no value to them, but quite a bit to New Orleans. The Magic would be in premium position to tank in 2013, then rebuild through the draft. It's not appealing. You know what's less appealing? Trying to rebuild with Andrew Bynum's decision making, knees, contract, and nothing else. The key when your title run is over is to start over as completely as possible, as quickly as possible. This plan lets them out.

But what about New Orleans? Jameer Nelson, with $15.6 million remaining over two years? Brandon Bass with $8 million? J.J. Redick with over $12 million? What's the upside for them, along with a pick that won't be good? For starters, it's better than what they'll get from New York. It lets them avoid being bullied by the Knicks for nothing. And it's not about what those players give the Hornets, it's what they bring individually on the market. A team in need of a power forward who can score? Bass is a great pickup for a cheap draft pick and an expiring. Teams in desperate need of a shooter? J.J. Redick. Starting point guard gone down with an injury? Call up the Hornets. Jameer Nelson is on the block. It's a flip project. You don't get the pieces to start over, you get the pieces you can use to get the pieces to start over. It's the best way to do exactly the same thing the Magic would be doing. Tanking to start over and hopefully get that All-Star Hall of Famer who doesn't adore the bright lights.

This lets them both out of the pain, it gets the gun off of them. It gives them the dignity. Orlando gets to contend for one more year, the Hornets get to start moving forward now. The Magic go all-in, the Hornets fold and save their chips for a time when the flop doesn't come down so wretched.

Big markets are squeezing the talent out of small markets. But those small markets get to decide how it goes down.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 2:01 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 2:20 am
 

Grading the Series: Hawks topple Magic in 6

Grades for Hawks-Magic. Hawks' toughness passes, Magic's composure fails. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith: Smith, by himself, could have probably made this series a sweep if he'd played like a guy with his size and athleticism. Instead, Smith opted to hang out on the perimeter, settling for jumper after jumper. Pull-up, spot-up, the works, while Hedo Turkoglu managed to get past him. Smith has so much potential to take over the game, and has the results when he drove or posted up to prove it. But he continued to waste time with his stubborn obsession with the mid-range and perimeter shooting. That said, he got his production, made some huge defensive plays, and helped the Hawks inside. 

Grade: C-

Joe Johnson: You can't really blame Johnson for being who he is. He goes isolation too often, and it's a huge detriment to the Hawks' overall offense. It was one thing when they didn't have other options. They do now. But he's such an entrenched part of the team that you can't really be surprised. Still, his defense was actually pretty terrific against the wings, and he did average 19 points per game. And he did on just 18 shots per game. Johnson is who he is. We can't grade him well because he wasn't good, we can't grade him too terribly because he didn't kill his team. 

Grade: C+

Al Horford: You can't run every possession through Horford. But, if you could, and he could keep his production, what a different Hawks team it would be. Horford wasn't brilliant, he was just very good, and typically a step above the rest in terms of decision-making and defense. He should have been able to back down Brandon Bass easier, should have been able to shoot over 40 percent more than four times in this series. But he averaged over 5 assists per game the last three games and helped space the floor. His flurry to start Game 4 set the tone. Horford will be the barometer for the hopes of the Hawks going forward in these playoffs and for this franchise. 

Grade: B-

Larry Drew: Benching Al Horford for a half with two fouls. Failing to get his team to focus on ball movement. Failing to close out the Magic in Orlando in 5. Giving up layups late. The list goes on and on. If you're ranking the eight coaches left in the NBA playoffs, Drew has to be dead last. 

Grade: D+

Atlanta's Toughness: Atlanta will get no credit for this as all the attention will be on the Magic's 3-point shooting woes, the Hawks' inconsistent offense, and their slim chances against Chicago. But the Hawks slammed the door on a veteran playoff team in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead, and that ended the series. The Magic took Game 5 in a shooting flurry, but it was over after Game 4. They scrapped, they challenged, they ran off the 3. They deserve credit for that. 

Grade: A-

Orlando Magic:

Dwight Howard: His Game 6 is supposed to, in some way, tarnish his MVP legitimacy. Yeah, because 25 points and 15 rebounds with 3 blocks is a terrible game in a series where he dominated in rare form. Howard defined dominance in every aspect of this series, and the fact that the Magic couldn't get it done with what he did says worlds about their roster and, yes, pushes him towards the door. 

Grade: A+

Every Magic player who touched the ball on the perimeter and shot: Geometry lessons. Feng shui. Exorcisms. The Magic should literally go to the gym tomorrow morning and shoot until they go back to hitting their correct percentages. They lost this series for the Magic, point blank.

Grade: F-

Orlando's composure: They couldn't adapt, they couldn't adjust, they couldn't get past the reality that the Hawks were outplaying them. Yeah, the shots weren't falling. But at some point in the playoffs you have to make the extra plays to give your team some momentum until the shots start falling. Orlando didn't do that. 

Grade: D-
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 2:27 am
 

Series in Review: Hawks defeat Magic in 6

Hawks take care of business... kind of... in a way. A messy series results in the end of the Magic, with a future in doubt. 
Posted by Matt Moore




An MVP season from the franchise player. A huge midseason trade to upgrade their roster. And the Magic are eliminated in six games by the 5 seed Atlanta Hawks. This is where the sad trumpet plays. You have to give it to the Hawks, though. Despite, you know, the offense, their decision-making, and their coaching, they advance to face the Bulls. Here's how they got it done. 

Series MVP: Jamal Crawford. Crawford averaged 20.5 points per game off the bench. The Magic could sustain the damage done by the Hawks' starters, but Crawford was too much. On top of the desperation knock-out punch in Game 3, Crawford just keep dropping bombs the whole series. Crawford shot just 6-16 in the elimination Game 6, and 3-10 from the perimeter. That terrible performance dropped his 3-point percentage in the series all the way to... 47 percent.  Nice shootin', Tex. 

Best Play: Crawford's buzzer-beater. It wasn't pretty. He didn't call glass. But it's the kind of shot the Hawks seem to hit all series, and Magic never could get a lock on. 



Best moment: Josh Smith blocks the Magic's last desperation shot in Game 6. Josh Smith struggled through most of the series by not committing to his athletic talents and playing too much on the perimeter. Then Smith turns around and blocks the shot at the buzzer to seal the win, and the series, for the Hawks. If that's not the story of Josh Smith's series, and/or career, I don't know what is. 

Worst moment: Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson decide to get to know one another. 




Most disappointing performance: The entire Orlando Magic team outside of Dwight Howard. The Magic rely on the perimeter shot. Going cold is one thing. Failing to make the extra pass is another. Not adjusting and forcing the ball inside, especially when the Hawks opened lanes for them to do just that, is a whole other level. Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, and yes, Gilbert Arenas; the whole lot of them failed to live up to their contracts and their responsibilities. Big ol' Fail for them.

Making a name: Kirk Hinrich? We know the Hawks. They've been together. But Hinrich showed that he can still put in buckets and play defense. His injury may be the biggest story going into Hawks-Bulls. 

Theme of the Series: The Offense from Hell. There were some good games in this series. Some legitimately great defense. But there were also entire quarters defined by Hawks isolation after Hawks isolation and missed Magic 3-pointer after missed Magic 3-pointer. If the Hawks had managed ball movement with any consistency they could have ended this in four. If the Magic had actually landed a few shots, they could have made it out of the first round. There's good defense, and then there's bad offense. We saw both in this series. 
Posted on: April 28, 2011 9:53 am
 

Playoff Fix: Magic have to live by the 3

Hawks try to close the Magic out, but if Orlando can stay warm from the outside, they'll force a Game 7.
Posted by Matt Moore

One Big Thing:  The Magic have to stay hot from the perimeter. This series really does come down to shooting percentages. Everything else evens out, even Dwight's impact inside, marginalized by the work of Josh Smith, Al Horford and the Atlanta bigs. It just comes down to whether the 3-point barrage from Orlando can hold up. That's what this game, and this series, will be decided on. Seems simple, because it is. Make shots, and Orlando's going to push this to seven. 

The X-Factor: J.J. Redick wasn't bombing from deep in Game 5, but he was doing work off the dribble. Yes, little J.J.'s all grown up. The Magic need a ball-handler who can score off the bench whose name isn't a grill and whose knees haven't been through multiple surgeries in four season.  Redick was hampered by injury at the end of the regular season and start of this series. He looked back to his old self in Game 5. That holds up, and that takes the sting out of Jamal Crawford, the real eternal X-Factor in this series. 

The Adjustment: The Hawks have to get back to what worked in the first four games: running off 3-pointers, doubling, and recovering. All the damage the Magic did inside compounded the outside and vice-versa. The Hawks aren't going to improve on offense. They're going to have more bad possessions than good. But defensively, they spark fast breaks, which is where their best ball-movement comes from. Letting the Magic fire away will guarantee the Hawks suffer the ignominy of losing a series they were up 3-1 in. 

The Sticking Point: The Magic really showed they were a better team when the shots were falling in Game 5. That has to put the fear of God into Atlanta. If the Hawks don't get a break and have the Magic miss a few early ones, Atlanta could come undone. This is a deciding game in this series, and not just because the Magic remain on the edge of elimination. A loss and the Hawks enter full-on meltdown mode. Just like that, a series that looked to be theirs can wind up firmly in Orlando's grasp. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com