The Atlanta Hawks (17-9) and Orlando Magic (16-10) will meet in an Eastern Conference affair Friday night inside the Amway Center.

Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

The Atlanta Hawks had their way with the Orlando Magic during the regular season and playoffs last year

Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a 97-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers as 3.5-point home favorites, while going “under” the total in five of the last six games.  “We’ve got to play with urgency and desperation as a team,” commented Hawks forward Josh Smith.  “Tonight, it definitely showed.”  He finished that particular game with 28 points and 12 rebounds, with the team winning all six games when he scores 20-plus points.  Atlanta is 4-1 ATS versus divisional foes this season.

The Hawks picked up victories in three of four regular-season meetings during the 2010-11 campaign, while also eliminating the Magic from the 2011 NBA Playoffs with a 4-1 series win.  Atlanta just learned that guard Joe Johnson has been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, averaging a team-high 18.6 points.  He ranks 10th in three-point field goals made, as the team ranks third in the NBA in hitting 39.2 percent of its shots from beyond the arc.

Orlando will certainly have revenge on its mind and comes in off a spirited 102-89 win over the Miami Heat as 3.5-point home underdogs.  The Magic were led by the play of star center Dwight Howard, who scored 25 points and 24 rebounds in his latest effort, while averaging 21.0 points and a league-high 15.4 rebounds on the year.  “For us, it’s one game,” stated Howard about the victory over the Heat.  “We have to continue to do one thing the same and that’s play hard.”  The team is 9-5 at home during the 2011-12 campaign, including a 7-3 mark versus teams out of the East.  Orlando is 0-2 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5 to 6 points.

The Magic have enjoyed a home-court advantage during head coach Stan Van Gundy’s four-plus years on the sidelines, posting a 129-49 record over that span.  Orlando recorded its 112th consecutive regular-season sell out when hosting Miami on Wednesday night.  Offensively, the team must continue to hit shots from the perimeter to ease the pressure on Howard, hitting 42.0 percent from beyond the arc in its wins and 31.8 percent in losses.

Bettors will likely back the Hawks due to the underdog covering nine of the last 10 meetings, while the Magic are 1-5 ATS as a favorite.

Recommendation: Atlanta Hawks +5

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