The Orlando Magic continue their homestand versus the Atlanta Hawks, hoping to build on the momentum from their win over the Detroit Pistons. The Magic used a team-wide defensive effort last game to shut down the Pistons and reignite their fast-break. While the Magic went small to outpace the over-sized Pistons, they face a different challenge against the Atlanta team that just lost Al Horford, their starting center and best player. Below are the 3 keys if Orlando wants to emerge victorious.
Attack the paint
Losing Al Horford is a big blow to an Atlanta team that relied on his sturdy presents on offense and defense. While Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon are capable replacements on the boards, they can’t duplicate Horford’s well rounded game. Look for Nikola Vucevic to control the paint and get some easy looks inside. Post defense is Atlanta’s weakness right now and every Magic big should take advantage.
Defend the 3
The Orlando Magic have struggled defending the three-point line all year, an area where the Hawks thrive. Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, and Cartier Martin all average over one three-pointer made per game, while Kyle Korver is in a league of his own. He’s shooting 50% from beyond the arc, connecting on three per contest. The Magic need to run the Hawks off their shot, funneling them into the paint. If not, the Hawk guards could light it up.
Containing Jeff Teague
Jameer Nelson has lost a step so much of this responsibility will fall to Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has the raw talent, but tonight will be a test. Teague is on of the craftiest creators in the league, so look for him to try to trick Oladipo off his spots. The pick and roll game is key. This matchup could be the difference between a momentum building when or an embarrassing loss.
The game tips off at 6:00 ET. Check back here for some post game analysis.