The Orlando Magic look to avoid even up their first round series with the Atlanta Hawks ..."/>  

The Orlando Magic look to avoid even up their first round series with the Atlanta Hawks ..."/>

Game 6: Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks


The Orlando Magic look to avoid even up their first round series with the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night to force a game 7 in Orlando Saturday.

Game 1: Hawks 103, Magic 93
Game 2: Magic 88, Hawks 82
Game 3: Hawks 88, Magic 84
Game 4: Hawks 88, Magic 85
Game 5: Magic 101, Hawks 76

The game will be shown nationally on NBA TV locally on FS Florida. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

Tip off from the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 2.0, 178u


Atlanta Hawks

Jason Collins
Al Horford
Josh Smith
Joe Johnson
Kirk Hinrich

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

The officials will be Derrick Stafford, Bill Kennedy and Michael Smith. The alternate is Matt Boland.

After have the worst four-game run shooting-wise in the Stan Van Gundy era, the Magic bounced back, shooting 42% from beyond the arc and blew out the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night.

The Magic don’t necessarily have to shoot that well from beyond the three-point line if they can shoot better from inside the arc – they were just 23-for-57 (40.4%). The Magic did have some nice looks from the inside and got better looks from the outside because they made an effort to drive to the basket, building on what Gilbert Arenas did in game 4. Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu did a better job of getting to the rim and even Jason Richardson made an early effort to get there. If they continue to get to the hoop, good things will happen.

Obviously, the Magic are going to be in trouble if Dwight Howard gets into foul trouble like he did Tuesday night. The Magic seemed to catch the Hawks off guard a bit, pushing the pace with Howard out but they can’t count on that working. Howard is going to need to log heavy minutes, help open the game up for the shooters and play his usual outstanding defense. I believe the Hawks may try to get to the basket a little more (although it’s not their style) because of the shooting problems they had in game 5.  Josh Smith (yeah, I know) is really they only player that used his advantage in size and athleticism to get to the hoop in game 5.

Orlando needs to continue doing what it did on defense. They got up in the Hawks shooters while avoiding getting into heavy foul trouble (outside of Howard). While pushing the pace they were also able to force the Hawks into more turnovers as they they tried to respond on the other end.

Orlando has turned the ball over just 28 times (9.3 per game) over the last three games, including giving the ball away just six (three in garbage time) times Tuesday. That’s how they were able to stay in games 3 and 4 with their awful shooting a big reason why they got a blowout win in game .

The Howard-Arenas pick-and-roll has had some success because the Hawks still really don’t respect Arenas’ shot. Arenas still hasn’t had a really good jump shooting night but he’s still capable of knocking down open looks.  Jameer Nelson has to be better. He’s had a lot of trouble with Kirk Hinrich and has shot the ball poorly outside of the third quarter of game 1.He had another rough shooting night Tuesday (4-of-10) but he was more aggressive, attacked the basket and looked more confident. He’ll need to be even more aggressive in game 6.

J.J. Redick and Ryan Anderson looked like they have a lot more confidence, which is good, because the Magic will need each of them to knock down a big shot or two.

The Hawks have always laid down in situations like this in the past but I don’t expect that to happen. Orlando will need to avoid stupid mistakes and find good shots while continuing to to play solid defense because this Hawks team looks like they have a different attitude than their teams of the past.

Complete Series Schedule

Magic Resources:

Expect Orlando’s Shooting To Improve
Are we underestimating the Hedo Turkoglu effect on Josh Smith?
Limiting the impact of Jason Collins on Dwight is the key to advancement. Seriously.
Q&A With Soaring Down South
Series Preview
Magic Basketball Online
Orlando Magic Daily
Orlando Pinstriped Post
Orlando Magic Basketblog (Orlando Sentinel)

Hawks Resources:

Peach Tree Hoops
Soaring Down South
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks Blog

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).