ATLANTA - MAY 10: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic enjoys a laugh at a parody about him on the big screen next to Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Magic Vs. Hawks: Dwight Howard, Orlando Aim To Repeat Dominance Of Atlanta

Can Dwight Howard and the Magic vanquish the Hawks like they did last season? We preview the 4-5 matchup here.

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NBA Playoff Odds, Magic Vs. Hawks: Orlando Steady Favorites In First Round Only

The Orlando Magic absolutely destroyed the Atlanta Hawks in a four-game sweep in the second round of the NBA Playoffs last year. As such, oddsmakers think the Magic will handle business in the teams' 2011 rematch, with the Magic listed as 1/5 favorites by Bodog. The Hawks are at 4/1 for the series, giving them longer odds than the New York Knicks, who are 3/1 'dogs to the Boston Celtics.

But Vegas doesn't believe in Orlando much beyond this first round battle against Atlanta. Bodog lists just 9/1 odds for the Magic to win the Eastern Conference and just 18/1 to win the NBA Championship, despite being an NBA Finals team in 2009.

Despite the Magic's big sweep last season -- in which Orlando won each game by at least 20 points -- you can get 4/1 odds on a 4-0 Orlando win in this series. The odds for a Hawks sweep are 50/1.

Be sure to follow our Magic vs. Hawks hub.

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NBA Playoff Schedule, Magic Vs. Hawks: Dwight Howard Revives Title Push On Saturday

The Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks met in the second round of the NBA Playoffs last season, but slippage in the standings by both teams set the stage for an opening round meeting in 2011. The Magic used their sweep of the Hawks a year ago to launch into the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to Boston. This year, a date with the Bulls (barring a miracle upset by the Pacers) awaits the winner.

Here's the full series schedule:

Game 1: Sat., April 16 in Orlando, 7 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Tue., April 19 in Orlando, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3: Fri., April 22 in Atlanta, TBD, ESPN2
Game 4: Sun., April 24 in Atlanta, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5: Tue., April 26 in Orlando, TBD
Game 6: Thu., April 28 in Atlanta, TBD
Game 7: Sat., April 30 in Orlando, TBD, TNT

Be sure to keep tabs on our Magic vs. Hawks preview.

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NBA Playoffs Schedule: Magic Vs. Hawks Game 1 Tips Saturday At 7 P.M. On ESPN

The 2011 NBA Playoffs schedule has not been finalized, but we do know when the first game of the four Eastern Conference series will take place. One of those series pits the No. 4 seed Orlando Magic against the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks. Game 1 of the Magic vs. Hawks series will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

The game will follow two games earlier Saturday. The Bulls Vs. Pacers series will begin at 1 p.m. on ESPN, while the Heat vs. 76ers series will get started at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The Magic are currently 51-30 heading into the final game of the regular season, while the Hawks are 44-37. The two teams met in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. 

Follow our Magic Vs. Hawks, NBA Playoffs section for all things Magic Vs. Hawks. For more on the Magic' playoff run, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post. For more on the Hawks, visit Peachtree Hoops and SB Nation Atlanta.       

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Magic Vs. Hawks: Inability To Force Turnovers Could Doom Atlanta

Dwight Howard is certainly the most important puzzle to solve when facing the Orlando Magic, and the Atlanta Hawks hope a healthy dose of Jason Collins -- yes, Jason Collins -- will do the trick. But beyond that, the Hawks could find themselves unable to capitalize on Orlando's greatest weakness: a big ol' turnover problem.

The Magic are No. 14 in the NBA in offense at 1.07 points per possession. They shoot rather well when you adjust for the copious amount of three-pointers that they take, checking in with the No. 6 effective field goal percentage at .521. The Magic don't get a ton of offensive rebounds (due to Stan Van Gundy's penchant for stretch-4s) and Howard is the only foul drawer of note (and he misses almost half of his attempts), so Orlando's offense really depends on that shooting.

And that excellent shooting only gets Orlando up to No. 14 because the Magic register a ton of turnovers. The team is No. 26 in the NBA in turnover rate, coughing up the ball on 14.3 percent of their possessions. Most of that problem is directly attributable to Howard, who averages 3.6 turnovers per game and has a personal turnover rate of 16 percent.

So Atlanta should be able to take advantage of this and get some earned offense out of Orlando's turnovers, right?

The problem is that the Hawks are No. 29 in the NBA in turnover creation, earning the ball on 12.2 percent of defensive possessions. Atlanta isn't structured to pressure the ball in any situation, and Larry Drew doesn't utilize a halfcourt sytem that allows his quick, long athletes -- Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson, in particular -- to dive through passing lanes. Atlanta's defense is No. 13 in the league, but it gets by on a refusal to foul, decent shooting defense and defensive rebounding. Turnovers? Nope.

We'll see whether Drew, in addition to the Collins antidote, looks to push his Hawks into more risky defensive manuevers. He may have no choice, given the specter of repeat dominance by Dwight.

Follow our series section for more on Magic vs. Hawks.

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NBA Playoff Predictions, Magic Vs. Hawks: Can Atlanta Fare Better Against Dwight Howard And Company?

The Orlando Magic are the No. 4 seed in the East bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, and they will face the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks in the first round in a rematch of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Orlando swept the Hawks in that series, winning the four games by an average of over 25 points per game. Both teams have gotten worse this season despite adding current and future payroll, which makes this series about as much of a snoozer on paper as any 4-5 matchup could be. Then again, anything can happen in the playoffs, and that's why they play the games. Insert cliche here.

UPSET POTENTIAL?

Believe it or not, yes. The Hawks took three of the four games against the Magic during the regular season, with the only loss coming by four points in Orlando back on November 8. The Hawks have held Dwight Howard to just 43 percent shooting in the four games, his lowest field goal percentage against any team this season. All thanks for that goes to Jason Collins, the aging defensive center who really is only useful against Orlando. That said, the Magic didn't have starting point guard Jameer Nelson for one of the games, and another loss came in their first game after they made the massive December trades for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas.

ANOINTMENT INVITATION

Both teams are capped out, fading from relevancy and lacking any semblance of young talent, so there's probably a better chance someone already anointed gets torn down instead. Howard, if he continues to struggle against Collins, and Joe Johnson are prime candidates to be torn down if they do not play well. But if there is anyone who will see themselves elevated in this series, it could be Atlanta's Al Horford, who has quietly had his best season as a pro. Horford will be freed from having to guard Howard, so he could have a field day against Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, neither of whom are strong defenders.

HINTS FOR THE FUTURE

The Chicago Bulls are very likely to face the winner of this series, and will probably be favored to beat either of these teams. If it's Orlando that wins, the series will pit likely MVP Derrick Rose against his top challenger in Howard. That's as obvious a storyline as any we'll see in the playoffs this season. If Atlanta wins, then it's Rose and the Bulls trying to follow up its most recent beatdown of the Hawks. After Atlanta shocked the Bulls back on March 2, the Bulls got revenge by dismantling the Bulls by 33 points in Atlanta on national TV on March 22, in a game the Bulls led 72-43 at halftime. If you're not excited about this, you're not alone.

MAINSTREAM MEME ALERT

If Howard continues to struggle against Collins, get ready for all the Howard bashers to come out in full force wondering how the dorky stat nerds could possibly vote for him to be the MVP of the league. This will only get worse when Rose inevitably dominates the Indiana Pacers. There's also the possibility that people will continue to laugh at the Hawks for giving Johnson his huge contract, but that meme was so last year.

FINAL PREDICTION

Magic in 6. Howard won't play well, the Hawks will play worse, Johnson will shoot 33 percent from the field and we'll leave wondering how it is possible for one team to be involved in the worst first-round series of the NBA Playoffs in each of the past three years. 

AND ONE

Follow our Magic Vs. Hawks, NBA Playoffs section for all things Magic Vs. Hawks. For more on the Magic' playoff run, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post. For more on the Hawks, visit Peachtree Hoops and SB Nation Atlanta.   

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