Preview: Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic

Gary Bassing/NBAE/Getty Images

Gary Bassing/NBAE/Getty Images

The Magic, having lost their last four games, all against teams under .500, are desperate for a win. In their last four outings, they have dropped games to Indiana, Chicago, Toronto, and Washington. Now, the Magic must try to put an end to their losing streak against the 23-12 Atlanta Hawks, who trail the Magic by just .5 games in the Southeast Division.

The Hawks have won two games in a row after having a four game losing streak of their own. Luckily for the Magic, the Hawks also played Friday night. They defeated the Boston Celtics 93-85. The Hawks play much better at home but are still 9-8 on the road. The Magic are 13-4 at home.

Tip-off from the Am is set for 7:00 pm EST and the game will be shown by FSN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can hear it locally on WDBO 580 AM and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

Starters:

Orlando

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
J.J. Redick
Jameer Nelson

Atlanta

Al Horford
Josh Smith
Marvin Williams
Joe Johnson
Mike Bibby

The last time these two teams met, the Magic were coming off a loss the night before, but used an incredible second half to defeat the Hawks 93-76. The Magic, who trailed by 12 at halftime, outscored the Hawks 54-25 in the second half. Orlando got excellent games from Vince Carter (21 points, 9 rebounds and Dwight Howard (22 points, 17 rebounds) and a surprisingly good effort from Anthony Johnson (17 points) combined with lockdown defense to earn the win.

Hawks Power Forward Josh Smith and Dwight Howard were AAU teammates with the Atlanta Celtics. Hawks Guard Joe Johnson is also a former Celtics player.

Six players scored in double figures for the Hawks in their win over Boston on Friday night.

Atlanta has been one of the best offensive teams in basketball this season. Only the Phoenix Suns have been more efficient on the offensive end and the Hawks put up 104.1 points per game on 47.2% shooting. Five Hawks starters average double-digits in scoring and a sixth, Point Guard Mike Bibby, averages 9.6 points per game. Joe Johnson lead the team with 21.5 points per game.

Jamal Crawford, who has traditionally been one of the least efficient players in the NBA, is flourishing as Atlanta’s sixth man. He is averaging 17.1 points per game on 46.2% shooting, which is the best he has shot since his second season when he played in just 23 games.

The Hawks are an average rebounding team. You’d like to think that the Magic would have an advantage in that department, but on paper, they should have had an advantage there on Friday night when they were outrebounded by 14. Al Horford leads the Hawks with 9.9 rebounds per game. Dwight Howard’s former AAU teammate, Josh Smith, grabs 8.0 rebounds per game.

Defensively, the Hawks have had some success. They are 14th in efficiency and give up 97.8 points per game on 46.2% shooting. The Hawks are a good shot-blocking team thanks to the athletic Josh Smith’s 2.24 blocks per game. Al Horford also blocks 1.38 shots per game.

It will be all about effort and attitude for the Magic. If they come out with the same attitude and effort that they have had over the past few games, they could get run out of their own building.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

Want more from Presto in the Paint?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.