For the second straight season, the Atlanta Hawks face the Orlando Magic in the NBA Playoffs. Their first-round series begins Saturday night, and this year, Atlanta thinks it will fare better. In fairness, it'd be harder for the Hawks to do much worse than last season, when the Magic swept them by an average of 25 points per game. But the Hawks' 3-1 record versus Orlando in the regular season inspires them with confidence.
"We played Orlando fairly well this year in the four times when we played them," Hawks forward Marvin Williams said in an interview with Atlanta's WCNN. "I think myself, the coaching staff, and my teammates are really excited about this series we’re about to play."
Williams' teammate Josh Smith haven't forgotten about what Magic point guard Jameer Nelson told the Bulls' Derrick Rose on national TV last Sunday. During Rose's on-court postgame interview, Nelson approached the superstar point guard and said, "catch you in the second round," in front of a national TV audience. The remark caught the attention of NBA fans everywhere, including the folks at Peachtree Hoops, SB Nation's Hawks blog.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Smith said, "A lot of their players are already claiming they are already going to make the second round, so that gives us a little added motivation, too."
But in an interview with Scott Van Pelt, Nelson showed far more diplomatic skills than he did on Sunday. "I’m not making any predictions in terms of number of games or who’s going to win," said Nelson, "but obviously I want my team to win and I think we can."