This 4-5 matchup is a repeat of one of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. The Magic straight embarrassed the Hawks sweeping them 4-0 and outscoring them by 101 points. I expect the games to be a little closer this year, but the same result. The Atlanta Hawks limped into the playoffs losing their last six games in a row and do not have the post presence to stop Dwight Howard. Their best chance at winning this series is trying to make it rain from three but I just don’t see it happening enough to win four games, let alone one.
4. ORLANDO MAGIC VS. 5. ATLANTA HAWKS
Magic–>Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard
Hawks->Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jason Collins
The Edge: Magic. Orlando’s got a solid lineup and I really like Dwight Howard’s chances of winning a series single-handedly. Jason Collins? Are you kidding me? Dwight will have a field day, while the rest of the team can shoot threes all series long. Joe Johnson leads the Hawks, but his play continues to decline.
Magic–>Gilbert Arenas, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, Quentin Richardson
Hawks–>Jamal Crawford, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia
The Edge: Magic. I love the Magic’s depth. Their bench is filled with shooters and guys that score in bunches. Even Q-Rich has found a way to produce on this team. The only chink in this team’s armor is that they have no backup for Howard. This will hurt them later on in the playoffs.
Dwight Howard vs. Josh Smith
The Edge: Dwight Howard…The big man in the middle will have his way with Collins and Horford and will dominate this series. I am more interested in how the Josh Smith-Hedo Turkoglu matchup plays out. Smith needs to bring it on both ends of the court in order for the Hawks to have any chance at winning this series.
Magic in 4. Dwight’s offense and defense will prove to be too much for the Hawks. I expect the games to be a little closer than last year’s series, but the same result. The Magic will sweep and move on to the Bulls in the second round.