After Wednesday's loss at Boston, the Hawks find themselves in a three-way tie for the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is knotted up with the Celtics and Friday night's opponent, the Orlando Magic.
Orlando is dealing with an issue that the Hawks have become all too familiar with this season: Injuries. Dwight Howard will miss his third straight game with back spasms, and Hedo Turkoglu will miss another couple weeks after having surgery to repair a facial fracture on April 7.
The Hawks have had much success against the Magic in the Larry Drew era, with a 9-3 record that includes a series win in the first round of last year's playoffs. Atlanta prevailed in both meetings earlier this season, but needed overtime to earn a 89-87 win in their last visit to Orlando (Feb. 10).
>> Hawks - Al Horford (pectoral muscle) is out.
>>Magic - Hedo Turkoglu (facial fracture) and Dwight Howard (back spasms) are out.
Keys to the Game:
SMITH vs. ANDERSON
Both forwards are having stellar seasons for their respective teams, but J-Smoove has had a big advantage in their head-to-head match-ups in their first two meetings. Anderson scores most of his points from the 3-point line and also likes to bang inside and crash the offensive boards. Smith's size and quickness gives Ryan problems on the defensive end, and Atlanta's focus on chasing Orlando's shooters off of the arc bothers him on offense.
In the first two games against the Magic Josh Smith is averaging 22.5 ppg and 15.5 rpg.
LONG RANGE SHOOTING
The Hawks are holding Orlando to just .286 shooting from behind the arc in their two previous meetings, which is well off their season average of .381. With Turkoglu (playmaking) and Howard (interior scoring) out of the line-up Atlanta will have to make certain to shut down the Magic's most potent weapon, the 3-ball.
- Zaza Pachulia played his rookie season with the Magic in 2003-04.
- Tracy McGrady holds the record for single-game points scored against Atlanta by an Orland player (40 pts in Atlanta on Dec. 8, 2001).