After riding their scorching perimeter shooting and effective inside-out game to their first signature victory of the season in a 102-89 drubbing of the Miami Heat Wednesday night, Dwight Howard and the Magic (16-10) hope to keep rolling against another Southeast Division rival when the Atlanta Hawks come to town Friday. Wednesday night against the Heat, the Magic’s three pointer shooters were on fire hitting as they set a franchise record for most three attempted in a game, and knocked down 17 of them for 51 points. That’s a stark contrast to last spring when the Magic’s inexplicably went cold from downtown, making only 33 of their 134 attempts to lose to the Hawks in six game and shockingly get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
Howard surely remembers the disappointment of walking off the court in front of his hometown family and friends while the Hawks celebrated upsetting the Magic after their decisive Game 6 win, and you can expect the Magic to come out tonight looking for revenge. The Hawks will be coming off a 97-87 win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night lead by All-Star reserve Joe Johnson, but are dealing with a rash of injuries. In addition to Al Horford, the Hawk’s All-Star big, andJason Collins, whose one-on-one defense against Howard was crucial to the Hawks upset in the playoffs, the Hawks’ speedy point guard Jeff Teague will be playing through a wrist injury. The Hawks also will be without former Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford who terrorized the Magic in the playoffs and hit an unbelievable three to win Game 3.
Jamal Crawford Game-Sealing 3-pointer vs Magic (2011 NBA Playoffs Game 3)
Tracy McGrady, the former Magic star, will travel to Orlando for the first time in an Atlanta uniform. The Magic are expected to have all their players available. If the Magic win, they will tie Atlanta for the fifth best record in the East.
The Magic follow their game against the Hawks with a tough turnaround, flying out to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The Bucks will also be returning home that day after facing the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Friday night. The Buck’s star center and former number one draft pick Andrew Bogut will not play after an ankle fracture January 26th. The Bucks hope that point guard Brandon Jennings will break out of a recent slump after scoring only 22 points in his last three games.
The Magic get a day off on Sunday but rookie DeAndre Liggins will be giving away 1,000 free tickets to the NBA All-Star Jam Session beginning at 10 AM at Lake Eola.
We'll have plenty more on both of these games throughout the weekend on SB Nation Tampa Bay. For more on the Magic, as always, you can check out Orlando Pinstriped Post. For more on the Hawks you can head to Peachtree Hoops and for more info on the Bucks check out Brew Hoop. And for more on every NBA game, you can check out the SB Nation NBA hub page.