Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks (May 13, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Cole Anthony has grown by leaps and bounds as he continues to play aggressively since returning from injury. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Anthony has grown by leaps and bounds as he continues to play aggressively since returning from injury. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic continue their tour of the best teams in the Eastern Conference as they face off against the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks.

Orlando Magic (21-48) at Atlanta Hawks (39-31)

Time/TV: 7:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Hawks by 12.5
Tickets: $18-$470 on StubHub
2021 Season Series: Hawks 115, Magic 112 in Orlando on March 15; Hawks 112, Magic 96 in Atlanta on April 20; Tonight in Atlanta

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OMD Prediction

The Atlanta Hawks clinched their first playoff berth since 2017 with a come-from-behind win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. In that game they showed what makes them such a dangerous and promising team. Clint Capela blocked a Russell Westbrook shot that led to Trae Young leading the team in transition to a John Collins 3-pointer. That is how things are supposed to go, defense feeding into offense.

The Hawks can still get a bit stuck offensively with Young hunting for his shot. The team has gotten a lot better though at balancing their lineups and their defense is a whole lot more on point. Nate McMillan has worked wonders on them since taking over mid-season. The Atlanta Hawks especially are a strong rebounding team and that is going to press one of the Orlando Magic’s biggest weaknesses right now.

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3 Keys To Watch


Clint Capela has been a revelation as a rebounder to this point this year. Capela is averaging a league-high 14.3 rebounds per game and a league-best 17.6-percent offensive rebound rate and 34.5-percent defensive rebound rate. The Hawks are fifth as a team in offensive rebound rate and 10th in defensive rebound rate largely because of that. Atlanta scores 14.3 second-chance points per game (fourth in the league).

That hits the Orlando Magic at their biggest weakness. Even with an improved effort in Tuesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, 17 offensive rebounds stood out as a blemish on the Orlando Magic’s record. Since the trade deadline, the Magic have a 71.5-percent defensive rebound rate, the fourth-worst mark in the league. The team has struggled to lock down the glass and that is a big reason why their defense has struggled overall.

Rookie progress

The Orlando Magic have seen a ton of progress from R.J. Hampton and Cole Anthony in the last few weeks. Both young guards are playing with a ton of confidence and are making a major impact for the team. Hampton especially has started to come into his own with a series of career-best games last week. The Magic have been playing Hampton more of late in meaningful minutes.

The Atlanta Hawks had their own top pick last year who needed some time to get himself going. Onyeka Okongwu started the year on the injured list, putting him further behind the 8-ball. He was playing behind Clint Capela (who is questionable for Thursday’s game) after that but has slowly started to find his footing.

Okongwu is averaging 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 12.5 minutes per game his last seven games. More importantly, he is playing with good energy. Coming off a good showing against the Washington Wizards, his progress has been promising for the Atlanta Hawks.

Free throw progress

The Orlando Magic have been a really poor team at getting to the foul line since Dwight Howard left in 2012. The team has consistently ranked in the bottom 10 in free throw rate since then and are still in the bottom 10 this year. But looking for a clue to the Magic’s new way to play? Their ability to get to the foul line is part of it.

Since the trade deadline, the Magic are seventh in the league in free throw rate — shooting 26.8 free throws per 100 field goal attempts. This has done well to keep the Magic in games throughout the course of the season. It is at least a little clue to how the team can play.

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Coach Steve Clifford said, essentially, the Magic have a chance to win when they are able to hit 3-pointers and they are able to get to the foul line. With how slim the team’s margin for error is, getting to the foul line is an important way to get the offense going. Orlando certainly would like to see this become a consistent part of its identity.