Apr 28, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) is fouled by Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) during the first half in game six of the 2011 NBA playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic Game Day Preview: All You Need to Know

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No Al Horford and Jason Collins. Good luck Zaza.

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (17-9) vs. Orlando Magic (16-10)

When?: February 10th, 2012; 7:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)

How?: SportSouth HD (TV) & 680 AM (93.7 radio)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan Site, AJC Blog, Peachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

The Opposing Team’s Blogs : Howard The Dunk (FanSided), Orlando Pinstriped Post (SB Nation), Magic Basketball (TrueHoop)

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Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Joe Johnson | C: Al Horford | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Marvin Williams

Orlando Magic:

PG: Jameer Nelson | SG: Jason Richardson | C: Dwight Howard | PF: Ryan Anderson | SF: Hedo Turkoglu

Injury Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery) and Jason Collins (sprained left elbow) are out.

Orlando: None to report.

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Current Records/Streak:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (17-9) and the Orlando Magic are (16-10).

Streak: The Hawks are riding a 1 game winning streak, and the Magic are also on a 1 game winning streak.

Away/Home: The Hawks are (8-5) on the road, and the Magic are (9-5) at home.

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Season/Past Season Series:

This will be the first of three games the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic will meet this season. This is also the first of two in Orlando.

The Hawks won last season’s series 3-1, winning the last three match-ups. The Hawks also won their 1st round playoff series against Orlando 4-2.

Game Preview:

Here we are again folks. Hawks vs. Magic. You never know what you get.

I know the Hawks won the playoff series against the Magic last season, but by no means am I confident to say the Atlanta Hawks have this win in the bag. Even if Horford and Jason Collins were healthy, I wouldn’t be confident in saying the Hawks will come in to Orlando and snatch a win. Orlando has been a team that I didn’t like the Hawks facing, and that’s because of Dwight Howard.

Whenever I see a team that has a good big man, I’m not confident about it…simply because the Hawks’ weakness is their size in the interior and their talent in the interior. Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game right now (and no, it’s not Andrew Bynum), it’s hard to be confident coming into this game.

I’m not saying the Hawks will lose tonight for sure, but I will say if the Hawks do win, I’ll be surprised.

The Hawks have surprised me (and I’m sure a lot of people) more than a couple of times this season, and I can tell you I’ll be rooting for them to surprise me tonight.

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3 Things To Watch For:

  • Defensive scheme against Dwight Howard.  The biggest reason the Atlanta Hawks won their playoff series against the Magic last season was because of the defensive scheme Larry Drew did against Dwight Howard. Larry Drew rarely double teamed Dwight, and focused on closing out against the shooters. I would think LD would do the same thing in this game, but that might not be the case since Al Horford and Jason “Kryptonite” Collins are both out with injuries. If Zaza Pachulia gets in foul trouble early (which is quite possible), LD’s only two options to guard Dwight is the smaller Ivan Johnson and Erick Dampier. Ivan Johnson is tough, but I’m not counting on him to stop Dwight Howard alone without a double team. I like Dampier too, but he’s yet to play a game this season. Jury is still out on him. If Hawks do decide to double Dwight, Orlando can make you pay by their good perimeter shooting. In all positions but the Center position, the Magic have players that can get shoot the ball and make you pick your poison when you decide to double Dwight.
  • Josh Smith & Joe Johnson. Joe Johnson is the lone All-star this season for the Hawks, but in my eyes, both Josh Smith and Joe Johnson are All-stars….and they will need to play like All-stars tonight if the Hawks have a chance on winning tonight. The scoring load will lay heavily on these two players since Horford is out with an injury and the player that made big shots against the Magic last season (Jamal Crawford) is on a different team now.
  • Erick Dampier. This will probably be the only time this season that Erick Dampier will be a player to watch out for. As most know, Erick Dampier has signed a 10 day contract with the Atlanta Hawks, and Hawks fans get to see their first look at him tonight….against Dwight Howard. I’ve always thought Dampier would be a good fit for this team in the past, but now with him being so much older and reportedly a bit out of shape, I’m not keeping my fingers crossed about him contributing much. I mean c’mon, Miami opted to sign Eddy Curry before him…
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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Dwight Howard Erick Dampier Game Preview Ivan Johnson Orlando Magic Zaza Pachulia

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