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Game 40 Preview: Blazers vs. Magic

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A Look at the Magic

Orlando finds itself at 24-17 on the season, a decent record but probably less than the Magic faithful were hoping for.  As you might expect from a team featuring Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu Orlando's offense is just fine.  They score 103.5 per game and are north of 46% shooting.  Howard is destroying the opposition, shooting 60% from the field and putting up 22 per game.  Lewis only scores 19 but he's spreading the floor, shooting 39% from distance.  Turkoglu also adds 19.  Jameer Nelson isn't exactly setting the world on fire but he's doing OK at 11 points and 6 assists per game.  (The ball spends a fair amount of time with other people.)   Orlando's bench has a lot of recognizable names but not that much production.  If you can get into their second unit you have a great chance.  They're all about the stars.

The wheels fall off the Magic bus when it comes to defense, however.  Despite Howard's 2.5 blocks per game they just haven't found ways to stop people.  They don't force a lot of turnovers and they don't rebound the ball very well.  They do a reasonable job of harassing your shots but they let opponents have 5 more possessions a game than they get themselves.  Sooner or later that's going to cost you.  In this sense playing Orlando is like looking in a mirror for the Blazers.  They're a good team with enough flaws (specifically aggressive defense, rebounding, and possessions) to keep them from becoming great.  

I have doubts about our ability to handle their offensive players and our ability to stay out of foul trouble.   I would be pleasantly surprised to see us knuckle down and get a "W" tonight.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  I don't see much hope of making life hard on Dwight Howard.  The next best thing would be to mess up Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.  Take out one of those two and you mess up the Magic attack something fierce.  They haven't got anybody to replace that scoring.  Whatever we do to try and contain Howard shouldn't involve easy or open looks for either of his henchmen.
  2.  Orlando tends to lose by letting the opponent scoring get out of control.  We really need to rebound and run tonight, trying to put 110 on them.
  3.  The Magic will foul you.  It'll be important to be aggressive driving to the hoop to keep pressure on them.  They'd much prefer a gentlemen's game.  We need to ratchet up the intensity and make it a fight.
  4.  As always, hustle up.  We haven't come out with intensity early for a couple of games now.  We need to jump out early to have a chance at the end.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)