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Magic vs. Hawks preview: Atlanta fights against letdown as Orlando arrives

The Hawks have a favorable match-up on Saturday night but can they hold serve?

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks, led by Tim Hardaway Jr., came back from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to perpetrate a heist against the Houston Rockets. On Saturday night, however, the Hawks are supposed to win a home game against the Orlando Magic, meaning that circumstances are very different.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a spot in which the home team is favored to pick up another victory but that hasn’t always been the best recipe for the Hawks this season. Orlando’s first visit to Philips Arena (on Dec. 13) was an ugly one for Atlanta, as the Hawks allowed 131 points to one of league’s more impotent offenses in a decisive loss. More recently, the Hawks have dropped home games to the star-absent Clippers and to the Wizards (by 26 points), meaning that every possibility seems open in this contest.

Still, Atlanta is the (much) better team and this is a favorable situation. The Magic enter with one of the league’s easiest offenses to defend, as the visitors present a wholesale lack of shooting on the perimeter. That should allow the Hawks to defend at a solid level and, while Orlando’s defensive talent is solid, Frank Vogel’s team has been unable to clamp down on that end in the way that many predicted.

At the time of this post, the Hawks are given a 79 percent chance at victory according to FiveThirtyEight, with Las Vegas backing that up by installing Atlanta as a 7.5-point favorite at home. Throw in the fact that the Magic played on Friday night while the Hawks rested and the pieces fit together. In short, anything less than a victory would be a colossal disappointment. Stay tuned.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, February 4, 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: Philips Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM