NBA Playoffs 2011: Dwight Howard Needs Help from Jason Richardson Against Hawks

Thomas JarrellContributor IIApril 19, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 24:  Jason Richardson #23 of the Orlando Magic attempts a shot over Tracy McGrady #1 of the Detroit Pistons during the game at Amway Arena on January 24, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After being swept by the Orlando Magic in last year's playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks stole game one and any hopes that the Magic had of dominating the Hawks again in this year's Playoffs.

During the regular season, Orlando defined themselves as a team that relied heavily on the dominance of their center, Dwight Howard, but was also greatly dependent on their three-point shooting.

It was obvious, through the Orlando's performance in game one, that their star center was not their weakness, as he delivered a mammoth performance.

Howard's 46 point 19 rebound performance was impressive, to say the least, as he became the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon to score 45 points and collect 15 rebounds in a Playoff game. Howard appeared to be unstoppable in game one, and I don't expect anyone on the Hawks to be able to stop him in game two tonight either.

Despite the terrific play of Orlando's center, Orlando's shooters (with the exception of Jameer Nelson) struggled to find their stroke from behind the arc. 

For instance, the combination of Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick, and Ryan Anderson, who are generally some of Orlando's most dependable shooters, accounted for only 14 points and a lousy two three-pointers between them.

It is imperative that the Magic perimeter shooters get more involved in the action tonight if the Magic hope to even the series.

The 27 percent Orlando shot from behind the arc in game one was uncharacteristic. Their regular season averages so that, at the very least, Magic fans can expect a stronger, more characteristic showing in game two.

Conversely, the Hawks, who stood outside the top 10 three-point shooting teams in the regular season, shot an impressive 43 percent from behind the three-point line in game one.

Atlanta's success shooting the three in game one can be attributed to Orlando's transition defense, which permitted some open looks for the Hawks' perimeter shooters.

If the Magic hope to win the second game of their series with the Hawks, they will certainly have to patch the holes in their defense that allowed Jamal Crawford to surge for 23 points and rack up four three-pointers. 

The key match-up for the Magic in game two will be Jason Richardson against Joe Johnson.

Offensively, the Magic will need more than four points out of Richardson if they hope to even the series at one game apiece. Defensively, Orlando could really use Richardson's help shutting down Joe Johnson, who scored a team high 25 points for the Hawks in their game one victory.