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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic-Hawks Previews

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The Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks will play game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday and the Magic hope they quickly shake off any rust they may have after an eight-day layoff.

"“If there’s rust, we’ll just have to play through it,’’ Magic guard Vince Carter said. “That first quarter on Tuesday night will be an important one. They’re in rhythm from playing and we might be rusty, but our focus has to be at an all-time high going into this game.’’The Magic can go into this series knowing that they’ve had plenty of success against the Hawks. Orlando won three of four meetings against Atlanta this season and a stretch of six consecutive wins at one point dating back to last season.“We’ve played them a number of times and they know all of our stuff and we know all of their stuff,’’ Magic forward Rashard Lewis said. “We know that Atlanta is one of the best teams in the league. Their record speaks for itself, but we’ll be ready to play them.’’"

John Denton has that story here.

Hawks Coach Mike Woodson thinks Atlanta’s win over Orlando on March 24th helped the Hawks.

"“Psychologically, it was huge for our team because we had struggled for the last two years against this team,” Woodson said Monday after the Hawks practiced at Philips Arena.Yet you didn’t have to go any farther than 30 feet from Woodson’s office to find someone who disagreed. In the Hawks’ locker room, Smith himself said the late-March victory will mean “nothing at all” when the Hawks and Magic begin their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight at Amway Arena.Instead, Smith considers the Hawks’ recent come-from-behind series victory over the Milwaukee Bucks more important.“We’ve just got to ride the tidal wave of our last postseason series against Milwaukee,” Smith said. “We faced a lot of adversity, a lot of negativity in the media, and we persevered through all of it. We’ve just got to be able to bottle Games 6 and 7 up in that series and apply it to this series.”"

You can find that story here.

The Hawks may follow the blueprint of the Charlotte Bobcats and throw Center Jason Collins into the mix.

"In fact, the Hawks could take a page from the Charlotte Bobcats’ game plan. In the first round, the Bobcats employed three different centers — and those centers’ 18 available personal fouls – and forced Howard to the bench because of foul trouble in each game.Woodson said Collins will see some playing time backing up Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.“He’ll be a big body that will come into play along with Zaza in this series for sure,” Woodson said minutes ago at Philips Arena. “That’s kind of what we brought him in for. So, depending on how the foul situation goes, yes, he will play a role having to guard Howard.”"

Josh Robbins has that story here.

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look how the Hawks fared against the 3-pointer when doubling Dwight Howard. The numbers may surprise you.

"Total 3-pointers: 35/1033-point attempts created by Dwight doubles: 6/133-point attempts created in other ways: 29/90It’s that last line that got my attention. It was crazy to see how many different ways the Magic got open 3-pointers . They used ball screens, pin-down screens, hand-offs, drive-and-kicks, pick-and-pops, and simple (but fast) ball reversals. There’s no hesitation. The Magic are always looking for 3. They are ready to fire when they get space and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are cold or hot for the game. The Magic don’t even need to involve Dwight in all that action because they are so good at moving the ball. It’s not just the guards, either–forwards Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson get in on it, too. When Jameer Nelson came back to play in the last game against the Hawks he added yet another element with his quickness and savvy."

You can read that story here.

Stan Van Gundy can’t explain award voting in the NBA.

"That Howard wasn’t selected the NBA’s MVP was no surprise to anyone, but that he was left completely off of 12 ballots was a bit of a head-scratcher for Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.“I don’t have any explanation for that whatsoever,” Van Gundy said. “There were some people, two people right? who left him off the Defensive Player of the Year ballot. There’s clearly some voters out there who don’t watch the NBA. And then they vote. What are you gonna do? Just like there’s voters in Presidential elections that never read anything, never watch a debate, never do anything else. There’s no requirement that the voters actually be informed. They just vote.”"

Tania Ganguli has that story here.

Dwight Howard and Hawks Forward Josh Smith share a lifelong bond.

"Good friends since childhood, Howard and Smith have grown into the two best shot-blockers in the NBA playoffs, still wondering what it would be like to wear the same uniform again.“We grew up together, since we were four, crib midgets then, always competing against one another at everything,” Howard said after practice Monday. “We always wanted to see who was the tallest, who could eat their cereal the fastest, or go to sleep the quickest, silly stuff like that.”Howard and Smith, who were born three days apart in December of 1985, went to preschool together. They played at the same recreation center at age 10. They went to different high schools, then re-united with the Celtics, carving the reputations that brought them directly into the NBA."

Tim Povtak has that story here.

I had a question and answer session with Kris Willis of Soaring Down South. You can read his questions and my answers here.

Tony Mejia of Pro Basketball News previews the series here.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com previews the series by taking a look at the individual matchups here.

You can read Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com’s preview here.

Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily exchanged questions with Peachtree Hoops to preview the series here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).