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Magic-Hawks preview and gameday open thread

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2. Magic (59-23) vs. 3. Hawks (53-20)

Game 1 Tips: 8:00 EST on TNT

Orlando was the only team to sweep its first round opponent. The Hawks very nearly got clipped by a depleted Bucks team. Kudos to the Bucks for a valiant effort; fear the deer, and all that. But this speaks to the continued immaturity of a Hawks team that is all too willing to let games slide.

The Magic, on the other hand, don't let any games slide, not even in the preseason. The scariest thing about the Magic-Bobcats series was that the Magic won all four games despite Dwight Howard's failure to register double digit averages in scoring or rebounding.

There is simply no way the Hawks are going to be able to run Howard into such dramatic foul trouble. Further, Jamal Crawford is reverting to prior bad habits. His 16 ppg in the playoffs are an illusion, given his 38% shooting, and he is jacking up five three pointers per game. Another 4-18 performance will sink the Hawks, and you know it's coming.

Player to watch: Howard. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the previous series, where he averaged five blocks and five fouls per game. If he begins to play tepid, the Hawks could claw their way in this.

Prediction: Magic in 5. The Magic are playing the best basketball of any team remaining in the playoffs, and the Hawks are playing the worst.