The Orlando Magic found a lifejacket in the form of excellent three-point shooting (that ol' friend) in Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks, keeping Dwight Howard and company alive for at least another day. (Two, actually.) The Magic hit 11 three-pointers in Tuesday's Game 5 after shooting 21 percent in the first four games of the series. Orlando more frequently than not shoots well from distance, and while Atlanta defends the line well, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Magic shoot well again in Thursday's Game 6 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV).
But there's a reason the Hawks took a 3-1 lead in the first place, and have a 3-2 lead with a chance to clinch at home, and that's because one of Atlanta's guards has been excellent as Orlando's have struggled. Jamal Crawford has been the biggest factor for ATL, averaging more than 20 points per game off the bench with a True Shooting percentage of .583. Joe Johnson is having a rough series, and Kirk Hinrich is Kirk Hinrich. But Crawford was phenomenal until Game 5, and Josh Smith and Al Horford have been all the help he's needed on offense.
For the Magic, being able to dominate with Howard in addition to hitting those three-pointers will be important. Howard had just eight points in the Game 5 win after thrashing the Hawks early in the series. If Orlando wins, it won't matter what Dwight did; survival is the only everything. But Orlando typically does much better when Howard dominates, so the hand belongs in the glove.