Much has been made of the 19-game winning streak that the Atlanta Hawks produced largely in the month of January, and with good reason. However, the Hawks could have easily posted another 15-game streak earlier in the season.
Enter Tobias Harris.
The Orlando Magic forward rattled in a mid-range jumper at the buzzer during a match-up against the Hawks on December 13, and that was the lone blemish in the midst of two smaller winning streaks. Obviously, that game is a blip on the radar in terms of Atlanta posting the top record in the Eastern Conference by a comfortable margin, but in the same breath, that was the last contest between these two teams, and revenge serves as the backdrop of Friday night's match-up at Philips Arena.
The visiting Magic are just 19-40 on the season, and that record was enough to jettison head coach Jacque Vaughn midseason. Still, Orlando does have some quality young talent in the person of Harris, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and others, and they could give the Hawks problems if that talent is maximized during a 48-minute game.
Atlanta is riding high after a runaway win over Dallas on Wednesday evening, and it was nice to see the team clicking on both ends. The second half performance was a reminder that the offense can be absolutely electric (57 points) when operated at maximum capacity, and defensively, the Hawks suffocated the undermanned Mavericks with energy and strong positioning.
The Hawks will be considered as heavy favorites on Friday night against the Magic, and that is the nature of a match-up between a 45-12 team and a 19-40 team. Still, it would be nice to see the team come out flying with intensity from the opening bell (which did not happen on Wednesday), and if that is the case, Mike Budenholzer and his team should have no problem in taking care of business. Stay tuned.
Game Date/Time: Friday, February 27, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM