Last spring the Orlando Magic knocked the Atlanta Hawks out of the playoffs in record-breaking fashion, sweeping the four games of an Eastern Conference semifinals series by an average of 25 points. This spring, it looks like Atlanta has revenge on its mind, because the Hawks have won three of the first four games of this opening-round series. Tuesday night the Hawks go for the kill when they take on the Magic in a Game 5 in Orlando (7:30 p.m. EST, NBATV).
The Magic won 52 games during the regular season, finishing second in the Southeast Division, eight games ahead of the Hawks. So Orlando got the No. 4 seed in the east, and home-court advantage for this first-round series, while Atlanta earned the No. 5 seed.
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But the Hawks won the season series with the Magic 3-1 this season. And they went into Orlando and won the opener of this playoff series, 103-93, back 10 days ago. Atlanta grabbed the lead in that game midway through the second quarter and never gave it up, stretching it to 18 points midway through the fourth. For the game the Hawks shot 51 percent from the field, and forced 18 Magic turnovers.
Orlando evened the series with an 88-82 victory in Game 2 despite shooting 35 percent from the floor.
Atlanta then went home and beat the Magic, 88-84, in Game 3 last Friday. And Sunday the Hawks took a firm grip on this series with an 88-85 victory in Game 4. So Atlanta is on the verge of making it to the conference semis for the third straight season.
The Hawks are also now 6-2 straight up and a perfect 8-0 vs. the pointspreads against the Magic this season.
Atlanta built a 16-point lead in the second quarter Sunday as Orlando had big problems putting the ball in the hole. But the Magic rallied to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. The Hawks then survived from there by playing some good defense, having Joe Johnson hit four free-throws in the last 20 seconds, and getting a near-steal by Al Horford on Hedo Turkoglu's attempt at a game-tying three-pointer as the clock ticked off the final seconds.
So far in this series Atlanta is shooting 45 percent from the field, and holding Orlando to just 40 percent shooting. The Magic are also hitting at just 20 percent from three-point range after shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season. That recent long-range ineptness includes a 2-for-23 performance in Sunday's loss.
And you know Orlando is in big trouble when the talk has turned from a possible conference semifinals series to whether Dwight Howard might be playing his last game with the Magic.
Hawks C Zaza Pachulia missed Sunday's game on suspension, but he's ready to go for Tuesday night.
If Orlando wins Tuesday night the teams then head to Atlanta for Game 6 Thursday night.
Hawks at Magic Betting Odds and Trends
As of Tuesday morning most online sportsbooks, like Sports Interaction, are listing Orlando at -7.5 for Tuesday night's game, with an ‘over/under’ of 178.
The Hawks are 21-22 SU, 23-20 ATS on the road this season.
The Magic are 30-13 SU but 16-26 ATS at home this season.
Three of the first four games in this series have played ‘under’ the totals, as the games have averaged 178 points per.
The totals are 1-7 in Hawks-Magic games this season.
The totals were a combined 68-94 in Hawks and Magic games during the regular season.
NBA Picks: Hawks at Magic Predictions
This looks like a matchup between one team on a roll, playing with some spirit, and another team with one eye on the off-season. So we'll take Atlanta and the points here, and maybe even tickle the Hawks with a moneyline bet.
Doc's Sports has been dominating the NBA odds and Doc’s NBA picks have earned 19 of 27 winning nights and a 29-16 run heading into Tuesday’s action. We have a NBA Game of the Week for Tuesday in the Atlanta/Orlando game (4-0 in this series thus far) and we have strong picks for all three games on the board for Tuesday (8-1 run for picks rated 5-Units or higher). Our NBA handicapping has been known as one of the top in the nation and a one-day package is only $29. Click Here to buy picks.