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Preview: Hawks take on Magic in pivotal basement matchup

Ping-pong balls could be at stake on Sunday evening.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks will welcome the Orlando Magic into Philips Arena on Sunday evening in a matchup between two of the four worst teams in the NBA. Ping-pong balls are on the line: the Hawks have just one fewer win than the Magic and with the entire bottom of the league as close as it is, any win can drastically change a team’s lottery odds. Both teams come in injured with no large incentive to bring their best players back quickly—for the Magic, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, and Jonathon Simmons will all sit out, and for the Hawks, Dennis Schröder, Kent Bazemore, Malcolm Delaney, and a host of others will not suit up. Atlanta is also encumbered by their own G League team’s success in the playoffs on Saturday afternoon: the Erie Bayhawks won their game to advance to the next round, meaning that it’s unlikely that Josh Magette, Tyler Cavanaugh, and Andrew White will be among the Hawks’ options on Sunday.

As it was against Philadelphia on Friday, it’s expected that Isaiah Taylor will get the starting point guard nod and be the only point guard available to head coach Mike Budenholzer due to the injuries of Schröder and Delaney and the unavailability of Magette. Once again, expect Tyler Dorsey and Taurean Prince to pick up the playmaking burden as the Hawks try to develop that part of both of their games.

Orlando has struggled in their second year under head coach Frank Vogel. Brought in to be a defensive-minded coach, the Magic rank just 23rd in defensive rating, a slight step back from where they were last season. Fourth-year forward Aaron Gordon is the player to watch for Orlando. Gordon is one of the most explosive players in the NBA and brings that athleticism on both ends of the floor, plus he’s added a bit of a three-point shot to his arsenal this year. Still a high-efficiency finisher around the basket, John Collins will have his hands full with Gordon.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, April 1, 6:00 pm ET

Location: Philips Arena

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta)