Magic (50-21) vs. Hawks (45-25)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Sun Sports
Key Matchup: Dwight Howard (18.5 PPG, 13.1 RPG; 21.7 PPG, 14.3 RPG vs. Hawks) vs. Al Horford (14.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG; 6.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG vs. Magic)
Season Series: Won 93-76 in Atlanta on Nov. 26; Won 113-81 in Orlando on Jan. 9; Won 104-86 in Orlando on Jan. 30; Tonight in Atlanta.
-Anthony Johnson is happy his hometown team — the Hawks — is an attraction now. As Brian Schmitz notes, Atlanta is trying to follow the same path to success as Orlando.
-Orlando can all but eliminate Atlanta from contention for the Southeast Division and the No. 2 seed with a win tonight.
-The Magic are a difficult problem to solve. But it seems like no matter what the Hawks have thrown on them it does not work. Three of Atlanta’s seven worst losses this season have come to Orlando, prompting Mike Woodson to change his strategy against Dwight Howard and Orlando perhaps, Ken Suguira of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
-Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes a closer look at how Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat played together during Monday’s win over Philadelphia.
-Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk has a detailed preview of tonight’s game.
-Hoopinion breaks down why Atlanta struggles so much against Orlando. Part of it is the Magic’s improved bench play over the Hawks, but also the Magic are just a bad matchup.
-Defense is the main concern for Hawks’ fans. Kris Willis Soaring Down South goes into more detail on why Atlanta struggles defensively, especially against Orlando.
-Jeff Clark of Celtics Blog took a hard look at the current brackets and determines having the third seed over the fourth seed is actually quite important, at least for Boston.
-Dwight Howard is happy to be home in Atlanta tonight and recognizes a win would almost wrap up the Southeast Division.
-John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reports Dwight Howard got some sage advice from Atlanta legend Dominique Wilkins while Orlando was struggling against Atlanta. Wilkins told Howard his team’s struggles were all mental, then Orlando began to dominate Atlanta.
-Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com takes a look at some of Orlando’s potential first round opponents.
-John Schumann of NBA.com explains why Orlando is playing the best basketball out of anybody in the NBA right.
-Dwight Howard maintains the top spot for Defensive Player of the Year in Maurice Brooks’ Awards Watch fro ESPN.com. Howard also has climbed to fourth in his race for the MVP.
-Jamal Crawford has waited a long time to reach his first postseason (666 games and counting). But as Paul Newberry of the Associated Press reports, he has been preparing himself each year like he is playing postseason basketball, even if an unforeseen tie-breaking scenario has kept Crawford officially out of the playoffs for a little while longer.
-Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports coach Mike Woodson showed the Hawks tapes of their defense to drive home the point that defense is what will get the Hawks far in the playoffs.
-Monday’s Hawks loss to the Bucks was not quite a playoff preview, writes Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But it did show what a playoff matchup between the two teams could look like. After Milwaukee forced overtime in a loss in Atlanta a few weeks ago, the team erased a 12-point deficit at home in Milwaukee to steal a win.
-Tania Ganguli of The Orlando Sentinel takes a closer look at Milwaukee, Toronto, Charlotte and Miami — four teams Orlando could see in the postseason.
-Hawksdawg of Peachtree Hoops comments on Atlanta’s problems in the fourth quarter. Pretty much, the defense loosens up in the final quarter forcing the offense to play much better. That does not always work as late in games, it seems. the Hawks rely on Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to carry most of the scoring load.
-Stan Van Gundy tells Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer it was simply luck that allowed Orlando to hit 3-pointers at an incredible rate against Philadelphia this season.
-Rashard Lewis got some good advice from Vince Carter during his mini slump. And, as Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunke writes, he has broken out of it by attacking the basket and continuing to shoot the ball.
-Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes John Salmons is saving the Bucks and leading them to the playoffs, where they could meet the Magic.
-The Hawks lost a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a crushing loss Monday to the Bucks.
-Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes Orlando had Vince Carter’s back in getting him his first 50-win season.
-The number of hot dogs sold was about the only positive thing for Philadelphia as Orlando notched its 50th win Monday. Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel has a recap.
-Stan Van Gundy called Mickael Pietrus’ recovery from an ankle injury a “miracle recovery,” reports Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel.