The Atlanta Hawks begin a three-game home stand this Saturday against the Orlando Magic. Will the momentum from their comeback victory over the Houston Rockets carry them into a long winning streak?
In case you briefly moved to a religious commune without televisions before Thursday night, the Atlanta Hawks had perhaps their most impressive comeback of the season. They erased a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to shock the Houston Rockets 113-108.
Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 23 fourth quarter points led the comeback, and revealed the true meaning of Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam”. I’m pretty sure a gospel choir started singing every time he touched the ball, but that might have just been in my head.
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After a 1-1 split on their road trip, the Hawks return home Saturday night to take on a Southeast Division rival. The 20-32 Orlando Magic are in town for their third meeting with the Hawks this season.
The Magic won the first meeting in December, while Atlanta won their most recent contest on Jan. 4. That game came towards the beginning of Atlanta’s turnaround. It gave them their fourth win in a row, firmly planting their record above .500 at 19-16.
The Hawks torched the nets from three-point distance that night, shooting 10-for-19 from outside. It was a balanced scoring night for Atlanta. Each starter scored at least eight points and four of them scored in double figures. Dennis Schroder led the way with 18 points and seven assists.
Orlando struggled offensively, shooting just 43 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from three-point range. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton each had 15 points to lead the Magic in scoring.
Overall the Magic have had a difficult season. Their misshapen roster just hasn’t worked. They have too many big men and not enough dynamic wings. That lack of spacing led pundits to predict that their offense would struggle this season.
Those predictions have proved correct. Orlando has the 28th rated offense in the NBA, they score just 103.6 points per 100 possessions. The Magic shoot just 33.4 percent from three-point range, also ranking 28th in the league. They don’t fare much better from inside the arc. Their 48.9 percent mark on two-point attempts ranks just 20th in the NBA.
Their defense was supposed to be their strength. Especially with defensive wizard Frank Vogel taking over as head coach. It hasn’t quite worked out as they’d hoped. Orlando’s defense is rated 20th in the league, they allow 109.2 points per 100 possessions.
Evan Fournier has been their best player this season, at least on the offensive end. Fournier leads the Magic in scoring at 16.7 points per game on 44 percent shooting and 36 percent from three-point range. Serge Ibaka has also played well in a bounce back season. Ibaka is averaging 15.1 points and 7 rebounds per game on 48.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from outside.
Anytime I write about the Magic I say that they are one trade away from having a roster that makes sense. As we get closer to the trade deadline, I imagine their roster will be without Nikola Vucevic or Bismack Biyombo sooner rather than later. But I’m not a general manager, I just play one on TV.
We’ve said it time and time again, but the Hawks have been very inconsistent this season. They have beaten some of the best teams in the NBA, while also losing to bottom feeders around the league. You never know which team is going to show up. I suppose that’s a good problem to have, as when this team reaches its ceiling anyone can be beaten.
This one won’t be the blowout that it was the last time these two teams met, but the Hawks should still come out victorious. If Atlanta is hitting from three-point distance then things could get ugly for Orlando.