The Magic will take on the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday night in what should be an entertaining game. These teams should get accustomed to seeing a lot of each other, since it appears they are on a collision course for a first-round playoff series matchup. The Magic have had a better season and they would have home court advantage, but the Hawks have won two of the three meetings thus far this season. Both of these teams will be looking to gain some much-needed momentum as they finish out the last eight games of their regular season.
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Orlando had won five games in a row before losing to New York on Monday night. The Magic were playing without Jameer Nelson in that game. Nelson is listed as ‘questionable’ for this game. There is no doubt that the Magic need Nelson in the game to facilitate their offense.
Dwight Howard has always been a tremendous player, but he is stepping up his game in a major way this season. Howard has said that he has a new attitude about the game and the results have been terrific. He is averaging 23.2 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. Both of those numbers represent a new career best.
The flurry of executive activity from earlier this season has given the Magic more offensive weapons, but they haven’t been too consistent of late on the offensive end. Jason Richardson has only scored more than 13 points twice in Orlando’s last eight games. Hedo Turkoglu was a key member of this team when they went to the NBA Finals a couple years ago, and he appears to be coming into his own of late. Turkoglu is averaging 16.1 points per game over the last nine contests. The biggest flop from the acquisitions has been Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is averaging a measly five points per game in Orlando’s last six games. The Magic have a solid defense in the interior, but they could improve a bit on their perimeter defense.
The Atlanta Hawks have fallen a little bit short of expectations so far this year. This is a young team that should be taking steps forward, but they have struggled to find any kind of consistency this year. There is plenty of talent in Atlanta, but the team chemistry has been lacking. The Hawks are averaging just 95.4 points per game this year. While Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith have both put up decent numbers on the surface this season, their shooting percentages have dropped significantly from last season. Smith has been settling for three-pointers far too often. He is a great player when he is slashing to the hoop and running in the open court, but shooting it from distance isn’t his strength. Crawford is averaging 14.1 points per game, which is the worst mark of his career. Marvin Williams just hasn’t turned into the star the Hawks expected him to be when they drafted him second overall in the 2005 NBA Draft.
What about a bright spot for the Hawks this year? Al Horford stands out as the Hawks most improved player in 2011. Horford brings his best effort on a nightly basis and consistently takes high quality shots. Joe Johnson is the team’s leading scorer, and he is questionable for this game. Atlanta definitely needs him to get healthy before the playoffs. Before the year, the Hawks publicly said they expected to at least get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unless this team improves on the offensive end, they will fall far short of that goal.
Magic at Hawks Betting Odds and Line Movement
Orlando has been installed as a 2 1/2 –point favorite for this Wednesday matchup, according to NBA odds. The total has been set at 185 ½. This line did not come out to this morning because of a few injury situations, so there has been no important movement in the odds.
Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks Betting Trends
The Hawks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
The Magic are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games in Atlanta
The ‘under’ is 18-6 in the last 24 meetings between these two teams
NBA Picks: Magic at Hawks Predictions
The ‘under’ has been a good play in the recent history between these two, and I think it will be again on Wednesday night. Expect the pace to be slower than average and the shooting percentages to be fairly low. I think this game goes down to the wire, but I think the ‘under’ is the best play on the board.