The Atlanta Hawks went into their second round series against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic with hopes and dreams of punching a ticket into the Eastern Conference Finals. What they got instead was one of the most resounding butt-kickings in NBA Playoff history.
Atlanta, which lost by an average of 25.3 points per game in the four-game sweep, looks to do something they have rarely done: defeat Orlando on the court. The Hawks have dropped 10 of their last 11 and the last six on the road to the Magic, which always seems to give Atlanta matchup issues. Of course, it doesn't help that the Hawks are facing the Magic for what appears to be the 1,000th time on the back-end of back-to-backs.
About the only thing that will be different in this matchup (7:00 PM, SportsSouth, 97.9 FM) will be the site of the crime. The Magic moved into a spanking new $480 million arena down the road from their old digs. About the only thing that is comparable between Orlando's old and new place to call home is the name on the building. The new Amway Center is bigger and has all the bells and whistles of those modern arenas that the old Amway Arena lacked.
Hopefully, all of the bad mojo was left in the old place.
The Hawks (6-1) hold an early one-game lead over the Magic (4-1) in the battle for the Southeast Division. Atlanta suffered a 118-114 setback against the Phoenix Suns at Philips Arena on Sunday en route to their first loss of the season. Orlando defeated the Charlotte Bobcats by a 91-88 margin on Saturday.
Atlanta could catch a break with in this one. Vince Carter is expected to play but may not be 100-percent after sustaining hip flexor injury in Charlotte. Carter brutalized the Hawks in the last year's playoffs, averaging 18.3 points per game and shooting 51-percent from the field in the sweep. Jameer Nelson is expected to miss his third consecutive game witha sprained left ankle.
The Hawks will be looking to break through for the first time since 2008 in Orlando. They also are looking to improve to 5-0 to start the year on the road for the first time since 1967 when the team played in St. Louis.