(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Forgive me for making my second baseball analogy in less than a week, but there's an old saying in that sport that goes something like, "momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher." The point being that any "momentum" gained with a big win, or a series of big wins, can evaporate the next day, or whenever the next game is played, if whoever takes the hill doesn't have his best stuff and subsequently gets shelled.
Jamal Crawford is the Atlanta Hawks' "tomorrow's starting pitcher." The veteran combo guard has put together three fantastic performances against the Orlando Magic in helping underdog Atlanta secure a 2-1 series lead. Crawford has put in 71 points in 91 minutes and boasts a True Shooting Percentage of 59.9, an elite figure for any player, let alone a volume-shooting, perimeter-oriented wing.
And as far as momentum goes, he has all of it. He capped off Friday's Hawks win by banking in a deep, heavily contested three-pointer, at the shot-clock buzzer, with 5.7 seconds to play, at home, to give his team a 2-1 series lead against a club which swept his by 25.3 points in last year's playoffs.
Yeah, there are a number of factors working in Atlanta's favor right now, especially defensively. Despite the Magic's well-documented offensive struggles against the Hawks, who seem to have figured them out, they've been competitive in every game. For Atlanta to continue apace and take a commanding 3-1 lead in this series, Crawford has to continue bombing away. Efficiently. And you'll forgive my skepticism that he can keep it up.
He's a career 35 percent three-point shooter who connected on 34.1 percent of his threes this season; in this series, he's 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from deep. Inside the arc, he's far less successful, at 12-of-33 (36.4 percent).
Simply put, his track record strongly suggests he can't keep this torrid pace up for much longer. And if he tails off in Game Four and Orlando wins? Suddenly, the Magic regain homecourt advantage.
And, you know, momentum. For whatever it's worth.