The NBA Tonight: Hawks at Magic, Jazz at Lakers (4.3.10)

This is a new feature that I'll be rolling out through the duration of the NBA Playoffs. It's basically a tool for all you die hards that want to follow the NBA while the Thunder are out of contention. I'll throw down some analysis for each game, things to look for, and a prediction. Feel free to use this as an open thread for discussing the night's games, how the playoffs are going in general, or how much you'd love to have Dwight Howard on the Thunder.

3. Atlanta Hawks at 2. Orlando Magic

7:00 PM Central Daylight Time, Turner Network Television (TNT)

Series Tied 0-0

This is one of the more interesting matchups of the second round. The Magic, who most predicted to have trouble with the defensively-minded Bobcats, rolled through their first round opponents in 4 games. The Hawks, whom most people predicted to roll through the Bucks after the loss of Andrew Bogut, had to go 7 Games and come back from a 3-2 deficit in order to advance. Due to this reversal of fortunes, the Magics are generally perceived as being able to roll through Atlanta. Personally, I'd beg to differ. The Hawks are a very similar team to the Magic, in that they both rely heavily on athletic wings and high-scoring PGs. Obviously, the Magic have Dwight Howard, who is better than the Hawks' Al Horford, but it's also arguable that the Hawks' Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and recent breakout Marvin Williams are better than the Magic's Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Barnes/Pietrus. The Magic's stars are more prone to bad shooting nights ruining their performance, and they are less likely to bang around in the paint. I'd also take Jamal Crawford off the bench over J.J. Redick any day. Don't get me wrong, I still think the Magic are going to win this series. But I think that the Hawks are going to give them a significant run for their money, and it's going to start tonight with a surprise Game 1 victory. And I know that the Magic dominated the series in the regular season, but winning a series in 4 games is a bit of a curse, and I don't think they'll be at the top of their game.

Prediction: Hawks 101, Magic 95

4. Utah Jazz at 1. Los Angeles Lakers

9:30 PM Central Daylight Time, Turner Network Television (TNT)

Lakers Lead the Series 1-0

Don't you wish we could be playing the Jazz right now? Whoever came out of the 1 vs. 8 seeded matchup in the West was almost guaranteed to have a pass to the Conference Finals. The Nuggets were clearly the more talented team in the first round, but they couldn't cut it without their coach. And against anything but a team that's not playing to their potential, the Jazz are an undermanned, untalented team. They can load the points on from the perimeter, and they have two great forwards in Boozer and Milsap. But their defense is lacking (especially against Kobe), and their center is about as useful as Greg Ostertag was. They might be able to pull off one or two at home, but the Lakers are just too talented to let game 2 fall into the hands of the Jazz.

Prediction: Lakers 107, Jazz 103

How do you think the games will go? Leave a comment and let us know.

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