The Orlando Magic try to avoid dropping two straight games for the second time this season when they host the Atlanta Hawks tonight at Amway Center. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is "optimistic" that Dwight Howard, Mickael Pietrus, and J.J. Redick will return to the lineup tonight after missing 2, 2, and 3 games, respectively, with a stomach virus, but Jameer Nelson likely will not be available. While having three rotation players--including the clubhouse leader for MVP--back to battle a division rival is encouraging, questions about their ability and stamina after a long layoff remain.
Orlando has dominated Atlanta in recent years in large part due to Nelson's work orchestrating the pick-and-roll, especially when matched up against Mike Bibby, one of the league's least mobile perimeter players. Without Nelson applying pressure to Bibby and the Hawks' help defenders, Orlando's offense is going to need a boost from elsewhere.
Atlanta's without Joe Johnson, its highest-paid player and go-to perimeter scorer, but has gone 2-1 in his absence by featuring big man Al Horford more on offense. Horford is likely the Hawks' best player, and one of the league's most overlooked performers because he plays alongside the flashier Josh Smith and the higher-scoring duo of Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Howard can't let Horford run amuck in the post, and it's everyone's responsibility to make sure he doesn't get open for those 17-footers he cans with such great frequency.
The Hawks signed Damien Wilkins, the son of former Magic forward Gerald Wilkins, to sop up some of the wing minutes Johnson's injury opened up. This is the most Hawks-like personnel move Atlanta has made in several seasons.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|13-8 (7-3 road) |
|15-5 (9-2 home) |
|December 6th, 2010|
|Sun Sports / NBA TV|
|Mike Bibby||PG||Chris Duhon|
|Marvin Williams||SG||Vince Carter|
|Josh Smith||SF||Quentin Richardson|
|Al Horford||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Jason Collins||C||Dwight Howard|
|November 8th: Magic 93, Hawks 89|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|90.4 (27th)||Pace||91.2 (19th)|
|109.3 (9th)||ORtg||108.1 (13th)|
|106.7 (14th)||DRtg||100.2 (2nd)|