Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic game preview
After last month was rough on the Atlanta Hawks, February has started in promising fashion, and a home-and-home with the spiraling Orlando Magic could keep it that way.
The Hawks go for a fourth straight win as they look to extend their dominance of the Magic on Sunday.
Atlanta (30-22) closed a 6-9 January with five losses in six games but has bounced back with three straight wins by an average of 19.7 points. The Hawks have scored 112.7 per game on the streak to move atop the Southeast Division by one-half game over Miami.
They shot 51.3 percent for the game while limiting Indiana to 30.2 in the second half of Friday’s 102-96 win. Atlanta added 17 points off 20 Pacers turnovers and won despite being outrebounded 53-32, including 19-3 on the offensive boards.
"Obviously we’d like to be better, but I think just because you give up a rebound doesn’t mean automatically they’re going to score two points," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Overall, our defense is a lot of times what’s giving us a chance."
That’s certainly been the case against Orlando (21-28), which has averaged 87.7 points while losing 17 of the last 20 matchups and eight of 10 at home.
Atlanta suffocated the Magic on Jan. 18 by holding them to 34.5 percent shooting, including 6 of 22 from 3-point range, en route to a 98-81 home victory.
Orlando has been abysmal in the new year, losing 15 of 17 and giving up 105.4 points per game after ranking sixth in the NBA at 98.4. The Magic have surrendered at least 107 in eight straight games and dropped their seventh in that span with a 107-93 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
"Our whole mantra all season has been defense is going to carry us, and we’ve lost that side of the ball," coach Scott Skiles said.
Skiles got some good news at practice Saturday when he learned Tobias Harris didn’t suffer a concussion after being inadvertently hit in the head by Victor Oladipo on Friday. After leaving that game in the fourth quarter, he’s expected to face the Hawks.
Harris, though, has totaled 10 points in two meetings with Atlanta this season after averaging 16.3 over the previous six.
Oladipo is averaging 14.4 points but is putting up 19.2 in 13 games since rejoining the starting lineup following a 20-game stint as a reserve. That stretch included a 103-100 home loss to Atlanta on Dec. 20 in which he had four points on 2-of-11 shooting with six assists. The guard averages 18.8 points in six career matchups as a starter.
Paul Millsap and Al Horford are looking for another strong performance after combining for 45 points Friday. Millsap was averaging 9.8 over the four prior games, while Horford totaled 17 in the previous two.
Both, however, have been limited offensively in two season matchups with Orlando. Millsap is averaging 13.0 points and 12.5 rebounds and Horford has totaled 29 points while making 14 of 25 from the floor.
These division rivals will meet in Atlanta on Monday.