The NBA Playoffs tip off Saturday and this season has the potential to feature one of the most exciting brackets in a very long time.
The excitement begins with a round one matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks. The Magic is the favorite to win game one and the series. The latest NBA odds have them favored by 8.5 points over the Hawks in game one.
That line is too high as the Hawks will upset the Magic in game one and give them a fight in the series.
Jason Collins may not be a household name, but he is the best player in the NBA when it comes to stopping Dwight Howard.
Howard put up his worst numbers of the season against the Hawks and it was solely because of the seven foot defender. The Hawks play Howard one-on-one, which allows them to defend the perimeter and take away the outside shooters for the Magic.
The Magic knocked the Hawks out of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion a year ago, a sweep in a series that was not even close.
The Hawks have taken three out of four games against the Magic in the regular season and will be focused on revenge.
Professional teams know better than to give an opponent bulletin board material as motivation in a series.
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson obviously didn't get the memo.
This did not go unnoticed by the Hawks.
“A lot of their players are already claiming they are already going to make the second round, so that gives us a little added motivation, too,” Hawks forward Josh Smith said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If that doesn’t get you geared up, I don’t know what does.”
The Hawks will keep this in mind as they attempt to knock the Magic out of the first round.
Josh Smith is one of the most athletic players in this game. The quick small-forward will match up well against Hedo Turkoglu.
Turkoglu is a threat on offense who can shoot the three ball and penetrate the lane. On defense however he is a liability. He is slow to react and this will allow Smith to create offense by beating Turkoglu off the dribble. The Magic will have to adjust their defense for this weakness.
Dwight Howard will be able to leave the Magic after this year. Losing in the first round could ease his decision to head for another team. The Hawks could be responsible for that exit if they take down the Magic.
This could be a motivating factor for the Hawks as they tip off.
The Hawks will win game one and it will not be surprising if they upset the Magic and advance to the next round.
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at email@example.com.