Tuesday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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May 18

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Boston Celtics expect a tougher challenge from the Orlando Magic when the teams play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight at Amway Arena. Rivers said the Celtics need to do a better job of preventing open shots and stopping the Magic’s dribble penetration and offensive rebounds.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic small forward Matt Barnes said he will play closer to full speed tonight in Game 2 against the Celtics and will stick with defending Ray Allen. Coach Stan Van Gundy would not reveal whether Barnes would stay on Allen or guard Paul Pierce, which is the way the defensive assignments fell in the regular season. [...] After playing just 15 minutes in Game 1, Barnes said he headed back home and rode a stationary bike at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday night to get increase conditioning level. He had basically sat out several practices trying to calm the back spasms.”
  • A review of Vince Carter‘s missed free-throw “play” in Game 1.
  • Did you know that assistant coach Clifford Ray once saved a dolphin?
  • Apparently, Carter didn’t take too kindly to a question that was asked to him by an Orlando sportscaster.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Perkins has a weakness, however, and that is covering the big man rolling to the rim on pick-and-roll plays. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Perkins defended 51 such situations this year, and opponents scored 1.02 points per possession and 51% of the time. He rates from “Good” to “Excellent” in every other play type, meaning [Dwight] Howard‘s best bet is to keep running hard to the rim on screen-and-roll plays. Marcin Gortat, Howard’s backup, has proven lethal in these situations against Boston. Remember, he shot 11-of-12 against the Celtics in last year’s Conference Semifinals, with teammates setting him up for 10 of those field goals. Boston pays him no mind. Interestingly, Perkins’ next-biggest hole defensively is defending the small man on the pick-and-roll, so even if Howard’s teammates can’t deliver him the ball on the roll, they can still try to attack Perkins.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse states that Rashard Lewis needs to step up on offense and produce if the Magic not only want to win Game 2 but the series, as well.
  • Sean Deveney of The Baseline: “Howard’s disappearance was troubling for the Magic because the perimeter game was uncharacteristically out of whack, with the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history making just 5-for-22 from behind the arc. Credit Boston’s dogged defense, which has lately taken on its 2008 championship form. But there’s little chance that the Magic will continue to shoot so poorly. If Orlando can just get back to its normal percentages—and get a little something more out of Howard—the Celtics will face a tougher challenge in Game 2.”
  • Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated looks at what needs to change for Orlando heading into tonight’s game: “There can be no chicken-or-egg rationale when the Magic enter Game 2 here Tuesday following the 92-88 opening win by the Celtics. After going 5-for-22 from beyond the arc, do they need to shoot threes at a better rate in order to open the paint for Howard? The answer: Yes. Doesn’t Howard also need to score inside to force double teams that create space for Orlando’s three-point shooters? Another yes.”
  • Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk: “There’s nothing wrong with a player like Jameer Nelson or Vince Carter creating for themselves off of a screen, but Orlando’s two-man game will have to be more balanced if their offense is going to make a true comeback tonight. Unpredictability can only be a good thing in this case, as the well-defended Magic pick-and-roll in Game 1 only generated 0.67 points per possession. Dwight’s horribly unrefined post-ups, for comparison’s sake, scored 0.79 points per possession. Running more pick-and-rolls isn’t the answer, just like running more post-ups or more isolation plays isn’t the answer. Orlando needs to make the necessary adjustments, but just has to play better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1.”
  • How can the Magic beat the Boston Celtics in Game 2? John Hollinger of ESPN Insider attempts to find an answer to that question: “The Celtics had 20 fast-break points, in part because of the 18 turnovers committed by the Magic, and that was Orlando’s one major misgiving at the defensive end. The Magic generally have defended Boston extremely well, which has allowed them to overcome Perkins’ generally masterful work on Howard at the other end. But on Sunday, Orlando made “mistakes we weren’t making in preseason,” according to one staffer. Chief among them was poor transition D. Because the Magic generally have at least three players outside the 3-point line, it’s normally easy for them to rotate back on defense. Although the task is complicated a bit against a greyhound such as Rajon Rondo, Orlando was among the league’s best transition defenses in the regular season and can lock up Boston in the half court.”
  • Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider: “Rest assured, Game 2 will be different. Expect the Magic to return to their bread-and-butter play: the pick-and-roll. The Magic’s best offense starts with Jameer Nelson handling the ball on a screen-and-roll at the top of the key with Howard. It creates the player movement necessary to open up the perimeter as the defense is forced to rotate off of the 3-point line to help out on the rolling Howard. Once the defense begins to rotate, the Magic will either penetrate to the rack or promptly locate the open man on the perimeter through swift ball movement. And the Magic will always capitalize on open looks from downtown, especially if they can get to the corners. Not only will the playing style look different in Game 2, but so will the personnel. Expect marksman J.J. Redick to take on a bigger role Tuesday, even if he doesn’t get the starting gig over Matt Barnes. Redick will provide a much-needed injection of 3-point shooting after Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and Barnes all were held without a made 3-pointer in the same game for just the third time all season. While it is true that the Celtics effectively created their own luck Sunday, they’d also be foolish to assume that Orlando’s dry spell in Game 1 will carry over into Tuesday night’s rematch.”
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook states that Orlando must create their offense from the perimeter, by relying on pick and rolls and pick and pops.
  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference analyzes how pieces of a team fit together. This year’s Magic is one of the teams that’s examined: “Instead of grabbing all 30% usage guys, you deliberately take players who aren’t necessarily as talented, but will perform with better efficiency when they are asked to play that 18% role. But one question that pertains to the NBA playoffs is this: what exactly is the optimal combination? Is it the percentages I listed above? Or should the Alpha Dog take away more possessions from the mid-usage guys? Or maybe our role players are taking too big a % of the possessions? To find the answer, I looked at the postseason Modified Shot Attempt %s (same as poss%, but without turnovers) for the top 7 playoff minute-earners on every NBA champion since 1952.”
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