In the last game before a week-long break for the All-Star game weekend, the Atlanta Hawks will face off against the Orlando Magic in Central Florida. The Magic have lived up to the few expectations that were present in their post-Dwight Howard world with a paltry record of 15-36. Orlando has gone 3-22 in their last 25 games, and have most likely turned their attention to the 2013 offseason. General Manager Rob Hennigan may look towards gathering assets by trading an expiring JJ Redick.
In addition to being a undermanned team, they have also been short-handed with a number of injuries to key players. Power forwards Glen Davis and Al Harrington will miss tonight’s game and Hedo Turkoglu is questionable. This means most of the offense will revolve around shooting guards JJ Redick and Arron Afflalo. Both average over 15 points and 3 assists per game. Redick is the better long range shooter, as he shooting over 40% from three.
Down low, Andrew Nicholson, who was recently added to the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, and Nikola Vucevic, also on the team, have emerged into capable post players. Vucevic has been a monster on the glass, pulling down 11.6 boards a game in 32.6 minutes of play. Earlier this season, he set a Magic record by pulling down 29 rebounds in a game, surpassing Shaquille O’Neal’s mark. Nicholson is the more classic low post offensive player with a variety of moves, reminding basketball fans of a young Antawn Jamison.
On the whole, however, this is not a good Magic collection. They rank in the bottom 5 of net efficiency by being in the bottom 6 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. A quick glance at the roster shows they lack a central figure on offense and very few plus defenders. They force the least turnovers per possession and shoot the least free throws as a percentage of their field goals. Hustle alone will not save them this season. If Jeff Teague can continue his recent stretch of impressive play, the superior Hawks athleticism and focus will send Atlanta into the All-Star break on a winning streak.