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Atlanta, Trying To Gain Fourth Seed In East Playoffs, Faces Orlando

Posted by Craig Parsons on 3/28/2013 6:18:46 PM

When the Atlanta Hawks take the court against the Orlando Magic this Saturday, they'll have a very clear goal in mind over the final three weeks of the regular season.

Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks – Saturday, March 30

Betting line: No line

Why Orlando Will Win

When poker is played, the better dealer wins, and in this matchup between the Hawks and the Magic, Orlando has Jameer Nelson, a terrific point guard who always has the capability of doing something special on the court. No, Nelson won't always flourish, but when he does, Orlando could improve to the extent that it can not only scare, but beat, a good team on the road. Remember that Orlando has won at the Los Angeles Clippers this season. Remember that Orlando overcame a 20-point deficit on the road in Miami and lost by only one point to the Heat this season. Remember that Orlando has won at the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors this season. With Nelson in the backcourt and Nikola Vucevic in the frontcourt, Orlando will always have two players who can carry a substantial portion of the scoring load.

One should also realize that the Atlanta Hawks are not a supreme bastion of stability in the NBA. The Hawks have lost at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Orleans Hornets earlier in the season. In the month of March alone, Atlanta has fallen to Portland and Dallas - two non-playoff teams - in its own building. Orlando will push Atlanta to the final seconds if Nelson and Vucevic are at their best, and that's a conservative statement. The Magic could very well win under such a scenario. Even football betting experts with a minimal understanding of professional basketball could appreciate such a point.

Why Atlanta Will Win

When the best online betting sites size up this game, they're going to point to the Magic's profound limitations once you get past Nelson and Vucevic. There's no Dwight Howard. There's no J.J. Redick to hit open jump shots. There's no HedoTurkoglu. There's just not a lot of quality depth on this team, which has sagged under the burden of a thinned-out roster amidst the grind of a long and grueling NBA campaign. Orlando lost to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, marking the second time after the All-Star break that the Magic have fallen to Charlotte in head-to-head competition. There's simply no way to sugar-coat those kinds of setbacks. Atlanta, for all the ways in which it can stumble at times, should be able to take care of the Magic in Georgia. The Hawks have better skills, more balance, superior depth, and added power near the rim. Orlando could play two and a half or even three strong quarters, but four will be a big ask.

Who Will Win

The Hawks can be exasperating at times, but compared to most of the league, they're still a generally solid team that comes through far more often than not. Orlando is, unquestionably, a bottom-of-the-barrel ball club, one that will not find any good answers against Atlanta this Saturday.

NBA Basketball Betting Pick: Atlanta

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