The biggest factor in the Orlando Magic's Game 5 survival against the Atlanta Hawks was three-point shooting. The Magic hit 11-26 from beyond the arc, while the Hawks hit just 4-16. If you're Atlanta, you can chalk it up to "one of those nights," right? Orlando has good three-point shooters; it was a matter of time before J.J. Redick, for instance, broke free.
The issue for Atlanta is that Tuesday's game served more as a regression to the mean, and going forward, the Magic are more likely to shoot like they did in Game 5 rather than how poorly they shot in the first four games of the series. The same goes for the Hawks' own shooting: they'd been over their heads in taking a 3-1 series lead, and another off night or two wouldn't be extraordinary.
On the season, the Hawks were a strong three-point defending team, giving up 33.8 percent shooting, No. 4 in the league. The Magic finished No. 10 in three-point shooting at 36.6 percent. Given Atlanta's strong shot defense in that range, you'd expect Orlando to fall off of their regular season pace somewhat.
But not all the way down to 21.9 percent, which is where the Magic were through four games. When Atlanta took a 3-1 series lead, they'd held Orlando to 21.9 percent -- 21 of 96 -- shooting on threes. That's absurdly low, even against a strong three-point defense. You had to expect that Orlando would bounce back, and it did. But even now the series shooting clip from long-range for the Magic is 26.2 percent. That's still much lower than you'd expect from a team that shot 36.6 percent in the regular season. There's still some regressing to the mean to go.
On the other end, the Hawks were an average three-point shooting team during the regular season (35.2 percent, No. 18). The Magic were a good three-point defense team, giving up 35 percent (No. 10). But through four games -- that 3-1 series lead -- Atlanta had shot 25-63, 39.6 percent, from long-range, higher than you'd expect given their own mediocrity from downtown and Orlando's typically good defense. In Game 5, the Hawks hit just 4-16, dropping their series average to 36.7 percent, closer to what we'd expect but still a little high. Reasonable, though. To see Atlanta shoot 36.7 percent for the rest of the series (whether that be one game or two) would be perfectly normal. To see Orlando shoot 26.2 percent? Unlikely.
Now, regression to the mean doesn't have a short schedule, and Orlando could very well go 0-20 from downtown in Game 6. But don't expect it. It's more likely they'll have another night like Game 5 than the sort of crummy performances they had through four games.