Scouting Report: Orlando Magic
The Hawks hit the road after yet another emotional home win as they get ready to face the Orlando Magic for the final time this season. The Magic have won two straight over Atlanta, and the Hawks are looking to solve their road woes and keep the momentum from Monday’s victory over Miami going.
Orlando snapped a 10-game losing streak by beating Boston 93-91 Sunday. Still, Orlando is headed in the wrong direction, and they face the hottest team in the East, the Brooklyn Nets, on Tuesday before playing the Hawks in the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday. This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a team that could be tired and may be without starting center Nikola Vucevic, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago and is still not cleared to return.
Orlando has been going with a bigger lineup with Vucevic out, starting rookie Victor Oladipo at shooting guard and shifting Arron Afflalo to small forward. Glen Davis will likely start at center if Vucevic isn’t cleared.
Afflalo is Orlando’s engine, and since returning from injury has played like his old self. His 21 points per game will be something the coaches look at closely when deciding on All Star reserves, and he’s played very well in Orlando’s two wins over Atlanta this year. At 43 percent, he’s lethal from three, so the Hawks’ guards will have to chase him off screens and force him to put the ball on the floor.
After Afflalo, the other four expected starters for the Magic are all averaging 13 points, so there’s not one guy to focus on. Davis is a versatile big man who can spread the floor with his shooting and is also a very underrated passer. Tobias Harris is an athletic forward who runs the floor well. Coach Bud was not happy with his team’s transition defense in their trip to the Amway Center on Dec. 29, so the Hawks will have to improve on the 22 fast break points they allowed.
Davis and Harris can rebound, though not nearly as well as Vucevic. If he’s out, Atlanta should enjoy at least a more manageable rebounding and points in the paint margin than they did last game. Another plus for the Hawks will be the addition of DeMarre Carroll, who missed the trip to Orlando in December as he was recovering from a minor thumb injury.
The Hawks should find success against the Magic if they can keep Orlando’s guards out of the open court and defend the paint. This time it will be Orlando on the second night of a back-to-back, so we’ll see if the Hawks can take advantage.
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