Hawks Vs. Magic: Orlando Makes Some Shots, And The Hawks Roll Over

In retrospect, Orlando's blowout win in Game 5 over Atlanta was entirely predictable. The Magic were shooting so poorly that they were bound to have a bounce-back game or two at some point. That happened Tuesday night. The Hawks, given what we know about them, were bound to have a game where they just didn't compete. That happened Tuesday night.

All this is to say that I'm not sure what Game 5 means. Now, I'm on record thinking the Magic would rally and win in seven, because I thought they were right there in every loss despite horrendous shooting that would surely return back to the mean. Game 5 didn't change my opinion one bit on that. But it did change the opinion of some people, most notably Charles Barkley, who declared that he would be working on Saturday night, when a Game 7 in this series would take place. 

Here's where I say we should pump the breaks. The TNT crew talked about how Orlando now has confidence and how the pressure is squarely on the Hawks. That may be true. But this isn't the first time a team down 3-1 won by double digits in Game 5. Here's what happened the last 10 times this took place:

  • 2010 East Finals: Magic win Game 5, 113-92, lose to Celtics Game 6, 96-84.
  • 2010 West First Round: Mavs win Game 5, 103-81, lose to Spurs in Game 6, 97-87.
  • 2010 West First Round: Nuggets win Game 5, 116-104, lose to Jazz in Game 6, 112-104.
  • 2009 West First Round: Blazers win Game 5, 88-77, lose to Rockets in Game 6, 92-76.
  • 2008 West First Round: Rockets win Game 5, 95-69, lose to Jazz in Game 6, 113-91.
  • 2007 East Semifinals: Nets win Game 5, 93-82, lose to Cavaliers in Game 6, 88-72.
  • 2007 East Semifinals: Bulls win Game 5, 108-92, lose to Pistons in Game 6, 95-85.
  • 2006 East FInals: Pistons win Game 5, 91-78, lose to Heat in Game 6, 95-78.
  • 2006 West First Round: Suns win Game 5, 114-97, win Game 6 vs. Lakers, 126-118.
  • 2004 East Semifinals: Heat win Game 5, 94-83, lose to Pacers in Game 6, 73-70.
In other words, only once in the last 10 times has a team won in a blowout in Game 5 and also won Game 6. In fact, of those nine times it didn't happen, only two were wins by single digits. The Magic could win Game 6, of course, but they would have to fight an uphill battle against history. Let's not assume that a terrible Game 5 performance by the team leading will carry over to Game 6.
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