Game Preview: Magic at Hawks

The Magic conclude their regular season series with the Atlanta Hawks, as they look to even this year's series at two games apiece. The Magic lead the all time series 37-35.

Game Preview: Magic vs Hawks

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Records: Orlando- 50-30, Southeast Division Champions; Atlanta 37-43, 3rd place in the Southeast division.

Orlando on the road- 26-14; Atlanta at home- 25-15

The Hawks are an athletic, physical team as they are led by shooting guard Joe Johnson who averages 22.1 ppg. And 5.8 assists. Also returning to Florida is former two-time national champion Gator, Al Horford, who is currently a rookie of the year candidate. Horford averages 10.2 ppg. and 9.6 rebounds for Atlanta. Starting at point guard is the recently acquired Mike Bibby, who averages 14.1 ppg. and 6.6 assists. Athletic small forward Josh Smith is having a career year as he's scoring at a rate of 17.3 pgg., he adds 8.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. Rounding out the Hawks starting lineup is power forward Marvin Williams, who is scoring a career high 14.8 ppg., with 5.8 rebounds.

Atlanta has limited talent off the bench, as they bring forward Josh Childress, who averages 11.8 ppg. and 4.8 rebounds in 30.2 minutes, former Magic center Zaza Pachulia, who averages 5 points and 4 rebounds per game, and rookie Acie Law at point guard.

Statistically speaking: The Hawks are 15th in the league in points scored (98.1 ppg.), 16th in field goal percentage (45.37%), 21st in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 16th in three point shooting (36%), 7th in free throw percentage (77.25%), 19th in field goal percentage allowed (46.11%), 14th in opponents scoring (99.6 ppg.), 14th in opponents three point shooting (36%), 14th in steals (7.3/gm.), T21st turnovers (14.3/gm.), 4th in blocked shots (5.5/gm.), 11th in rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 11th in assists (22.0/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.3 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.32%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 4th three point shooting (38%), 27th FT% (72.2%), 7th FG% allowed (44.54%), 12th opponents scoring (99.1 ppg.), 13th opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th steals (6.2/gm.), 17th turnovers (13.9/gm.), 25th in blocked shots (4.1/gm.), 12th in rebounding (42.0/gm.), and 22nd in assists (20.5/gm.).

What do the stats tell us? Atlanta is an athletic, mostly defensive team that guards the three-point line well and blocks a lot of shots. They have some troubles scoring in the half court, but they've been much better of late.

Best matchup for Atlanta: Joe Johnson vs. Maurice Evans- Johnson is a guard who can score from nearly everywhere and create open shots for his teammates thanks to his fantastic shooting ability. Evans will have to stay close to Johnson as he excels at running the baseline and shooting off screens. Johnson has averaged 28.3 ppg., and 7.3 apg. against the Magic this year.

Best matchup for Orlando: Dwight Howard vs. Al Horford- Howard has too much size and strength for anyone on the Hawks to cover him effectively, and Dwight seems to be extra motivated when playing against Atlanta, the city in which he grew up. They will be forced to collapse down and leave the outside open. Howard has averaged 17 ppg., and 16.8 rpg. against the Hawks this year.

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Get Dwight the ball early, and keep feeding him. Orlando has an advantage almost every night with Dwight Howard and if they get him started early on, the entire offense tends to flourish. Lately they've been getting Howard the ball early with very good results, then they've gone away from him.

2. Cut down on turnovers. Orlando tends to struggle against athletic teams like Atlanta, and they must take care of the ball to avoid easy fast break opportunities for the Hawks.

3. Beat them on the glass. When Dwight Howard gets some help on the glass, the team tends to prosper. Evans, Lewis, and Turkoglu have to do a better job of rebounding.

Final thoughts: Orlando matches up poorly with Atlanta, and the Hawks need the game to clinch a playoff spot. Look for the Hawks to play inspired ball and take this game.