NBA Playoffs Betting Preview: Hawks at Magic

Hawks vs. MagicThe Atlanta Hawks (44-38 SU, 37-45 ATS) and Orlando Magic (52-30 SU, 34-46-2 ATS) open up their best-of-seven game series on Saturday night in Orlando (7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Hawks are the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference while the Magic are the No. 4 seed.

This is a rematch of last year’s playoff series in the second round that saw the Magic sweep the Hawks in four games. Nevertheless, the Hawks had some success against the Magic this season having won three of four meetings.

Orlando is listed as 8-point home favorite at for Game 1 and the total is set at 179.5. On the moneyline, the Magic are -450; the Hawks are +350.

Both Atlanta and Orlando are different than they were last year so this series could get interesting. The Hawks added veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich (10 ppg, 4 apg). Orlando also has a much different roster with G-F Jason Richardson (15.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and F Hedo Turkoglu (10.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) playing prominent roles.

The big matchup in this series is in the middle as Orlando’s Dwight Howard (22.9 ppg, 14.1 rpg) goes up against Atlanta’s Jason Collins. The Hawks held Howard in check this season and it was because of Collins. If Collins can keep Howard under control then it forces Orlando to find other reliable scoring options and far too often this season the Magic didn’t have other consistent scoring options.

Another interesting matchup is at the point as Hinrich will try and keep up with Orlando’s Jameer Nelson. There have been times this season when Hinrich has been very good but there are other times when he looks slow. The Hawks will be in trouble this series if Nelson dominates Hinrich.

The Hawks were just No. 26 in the league in scoring at 95 points per game while their defense was ninth best, allowing just over 95 points per game.

The Hawks were 21-20 ATS on the road this season while the Magic were 19-22 ATS at home. Orlando averaged 99.2 points per game this season which was No. 16 in the league while they gave up just 93.7 points per game, good for fourth-best in the NBA.

The Hawks won three of four this season against the Magic and covered all four. All four games were low scoring and went under the total. In fact, nine of the last ten in this series have gone under the total.

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