Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Preview: Orlando Magic Prepare for Atlanta Hawks

The Orlando Magic (10-15) will head north on I-75 to meet the Atlanta Hawks (12-12) Tuesday night.

Both teams have had an up and down season, and tonight is their chance to build momentum in a positive direction.

Swoop There it Is

It’s been a tale of two teams for the Atlanta Hawks this season.  They looked to be early play-off contenders when they started the season 9-2.  That fun-fest didn’t last too long—they followed the

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

first 11 games up with an abysmal 1-10 record, including seven losses in a row.  The Hawks are on a two-game winning streak, and are hoping for a third win tonight.

They did have some signs of the good early season play in Milwaukee last Friday.  The Hawks came back from a 20-point half time deficit to beat the Bucks.  Atlanta has the future of NBA stardom in Dennis Schroder.  The 23-year-old German guard put up 33 points in that game.  He went 4-for-7 beyond the arc and 12-for-19 from close range.  Schroder wasn’t the only Hawk flying high.  Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway, Jr.; and Dwight Howard all managed to reach double figures as well.

If the Hawks want to beat the Magic, they need to control the paint.  They need to dominate every part of the court inside the arc.  The Hawks have Dwight Howard on their side, one of the most dominating players in recent history.  Schroder will also have an important role, and will look to follow up his stellar play against the Bucks.

Where’s the Magic?

The Magic aren’t doing any better than the Hawks at this point in the season. They lost 17 of their last 22 games, including a current three-game losing streak.

Nov 16, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) high fives center Nikola Vucevic (9) against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Amway Center. The Magic won 89-82. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Their losing streak came when they returned home to O-Town after a five game road trip.  They won four of the games away.

Orlando’s Sunday night loss against the Denver Nuggets (9-16) was tough, especially with the absence of forward Nikola Vucevic who suffered an injury the previous game.  Another forward, Bismark Biyombo, played on Sunday, but it was clear he was not 100 percent healthy.  The 6’9″ Congolese forward scored 12 points with only six rebounds.  This led to the Nuggets out-rebounding the Magic, handing them a 121-113 loss at home.  The Magic weren’t able to score those low post baskets they usually do, so they had to rely on the three-point game—which didn’t work out.

Vucevic’s status in the line up against Atlanta is still unsure for Tuesday evening. Vogel may have to use Aaron Gordon, who had 10 points and six rebounds against Denver.  The Magic need that rotation in the paint, and it looks like Gordon is the guy for the job.

To have a chance of beating the Hawks, the Magic need to find a rhythm in the paint.  Without Vucevic, they seem lost.  Their reliance on three-pointers did not help them much in the last game, and they can’t make that same mistake again.  Defensively, they need to keep tabs on Schroder.  That kid can run the court and the boards, and the Magic need to be careful not to let him find a rhythm.

Coverage

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. You can find coverage on FOX Sports Florida beginning at 7 p.m.

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