Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The Orlando Magic (13-22) have lost four straight heading into tonight’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks (14-20). To avoid their fifth straight loss, the Magic will need to find some production from deep in their bench as they face a myriad of injuries. The most recent injury was to Cole Anthony, who was having a spectacular rookie season. Anthony is out with a rib injury and will be for some time. He joins Markelle Fultz (knee – out for season) and Aaron Gordon (ankle – 4-6 weeks). James Ennis is also questionable with a calf injury.
The lack of depth hurt the Magic in their 130-124 loss to Dallas. Nikola Vucevic was splendid once again, finishing with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. Evan Fournier scored 26 points, and Terrence Ross added 18 points. Michael Carter-Williams also scored 18 points, while adding eight rebounds and six assists. Despite the loss, Orlando was able to cover. They were seven-point underdogs, but stormed back late to cover.
The Hawks headed into Tuesday night’s game against Miami having lost three of their past four games. Tuesday was the second straight matchup with Miami. The Heat defeated the Hawks 109-99 on Sunday night. Last night, the Hawks exacted some revenge, taking down the Heat 94-80 in a very low scoring affair. The Hawks limited the Heat to just 17 first-quarter points and 14 fourth-quarter points. Trae Young scored 18 points and dished out 10 assists. John Collins scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, and Clint Capela had 10 points and 17 rebounds. The Hawks welcomed back Bogdan Bogdanovich and Kevin Huerter. Huerter started, and played 32 minutes, scoring 16 points. Bogdanovich had five points in 16 minutes of action.
This is the first matchup of the season between the two Eastern Conference foes. Both teams will be a bit short-handed. We have already detailed Orlando’s injury issues. Atlanta will be without Cam Reddish (Achilles), Kris Dunn (knee), and DeAndre Hunter (knee).
Young Shoulders the Load as Hawks Deal With a Ton of Injuries
The Atlanta Hawks have one of the more balanced rotations in the NBA, with seven players averaging double-figure scoring. With De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish injured, and Bogdan Bogdanovich questionable, the bulk of the scoring load has been picked up by Trae Young, who averages 26.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 9.5 apg. Young has hit 36.8% of his three-point attempts this season. Clint Capela has averaged a double-double, scoring 14.9 ppg while pulling down 14.1 rpg. John Collins has excelled on the offensive end recently, having pushed his offensive production up to 18.1 ppg while hauling in 7.6 rpg.
THREE STRAIGHT 3-POINTERS 🥶 pic.twitter.com/lm6H6oQhJi
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 3, 2021
Offensively, the Hawks are 22nd in the NBA in effective field goal percent (52.4%), 15th in turnover percent (12.5%), second in offensive rebounding percent (25.8%), and second in free throws per field goal attempts (.241). Defensively, Atlanta is seventh in opponent’s effective field goal percent (53.0%), 27th in opponent turnover percent (11.3%), 18th in defensive rebounding percent (77.4%), and 21st in opponents free throws per field goal attempts (.205).
Magic Dealing With Yet Another Injury
Orlando has simply not been able to play with their full roster. Even with the loss of Fultz for the rest of the season, the Magic could have a formidable lineup if they could keep everyone else healthy. They got Evan Fournier and Michael Carter-Williams back, but lost Cole Anthony. Aaron Gordon has been out for an extended period as well. The result has been inconsistency all season long.
The trio of Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross now are tasked with carrying the team offensively until some depth pieces can be developed or added. With the trade deadline approaching, there is a chance Orlando could move some pieces as they build toward the future.
Vucevic has averaged 24.5 ppg, 11.7 rpg, and 3.7 apg, and has hit 41.8% of his three-point attempts. Fournier averages 18.5 ppg, and has hit 37.1% of his three-point shots. Terrence Ross is a 34.0% three-point shooter who averages 15.2 ppg off the bench.
As a team, the Magic have an effective field goal percentage of 49.7%, 30th in the league. Orlando is 4th in the league in turnover percent (11.7%), 18th in offensive rebounding percent (22.1%) and 28th in free throws per field goal attempts (.169). Defensively, the Magic are 23rd in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percent (54.8%), 20th in opponent turnover percentage (11.9%), third in defensive rebound percent (79.9%), and sixth in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.167).
- Atlanta: Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite.
- Atlanta: Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games.
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Atlanta is 1-5 in the second game of a back-to-back this season. The last time they played back-to-back, the Hawks lost the first game to Cleveland, then rebounded for a win against Boston. That fact, plus the short handedness that Atlanta is dealing with, is the reason I like Orlando at home in this one. Of course, the Magic aren’t world beaters either. But, they covered their last game against a tough Dallas team, and they very well could do the same tonight. I’m going with Orlando to cover.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
The predicted total seems a little low to me for a team that scored 124 points in their last home game, and their opponent who has hovered over 100 points in most of their last games. When you add the fact that the OVER has trended for both teams, it makes sense to think that we could be watching a real scorefest. I’m taking the OVER here.