The Magic are getting worried about their upcoming playoff matchup. And with good reason.
Although Orlando swept the Atlanta Hawks last spring in the second round of the playoffs -- embarrassed them, actually -- that same matchup in the first round this spring isn't looking so promising for the Magic.
The Hawks beat the Magic again Wednesday night -- the third time this season in four games -- and Atlanta has cut into the confident tone the Magic had earlier this season.
The Magic/Hawks matchup will become reality if both teams remain in their current seeding in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are No. 4 and the Hawks are No. 5. Both look likely to remain there.
"They have beaten us three of four. They are better than us now," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I don't think we're afraid to play them, but anytime a team beats you three of four, it makes you wonder."
The Magic beat the Hawks so badly last season that Atlanta fired coach Mike Woodson and turned much the same team over to his assistant, Larry Drew.
The biggest difference this season has been the Hawks are using a bigger lineup with Jason Collins at center, which allows Al Horford to play at power forward. It gives the Hawks a big lineup with Josh Smith at small forward. Collins can't stop Dwight Howard, but he has slowed him, getting help from backup Zaza Pachulia.
HAWKS 85 MAGIC 82: With Dwight Howard in foul trouble through the second half, the Magic fell again to Atlanta for the third time this season. Howard finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but he made only four of 13 shots. The Magic were helped by the return of guard Jameer Nelson, who had 20 points and five assists after missing a game with a sore knee. Nelson missed a late-game running lay-up that could sent it into overtime, but he played well overall. The Hawks got 26 points from Josh Smith.
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