- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Miami Heat don’t intend to give Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard easy baskets when the two teams play tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena. So what else is new? Howard has averaged 20.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in three games against the Heat this year. At first glance, those statistics seem to indicate that Howard has steamrolled Miami this season. But, in reality, the Heat have performed better against him that most teams. Howard is averaging 23.5 points per game on 59.9 percent shooting against the rest of the league this season. ‘They do a pretty good job of swarming him with a lot of people,’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after his team’s shootaround this afternoon. ‘They’re not all out double-teaming him, but as he commits to his move, they come with virtually everybody. So he doesn’t get a lot of room. They’ve got some very athletic guys. [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade both come to block from behind, and they do; they make it difficult on him. And they’ve got size. They’ve got [Erick] Dampier and they’ve got [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas and they’ve got Joel Anthony, who’s a great shot-blocker. So they’ve got size on him and a lot of people coming to help. I think they do a pretty good job of swarming him in the paint.’ ”
- Head coach Stan Van Gundy provides his take on the NBA buyout policy.
- According to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, it’s do-or-die for Dwight Howard’s MVP campaign.
- Who is the Magic’s defensive stopper? Earl Clark or Quentin Richardson?
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Were his percentages on long jumpers down across the board, we might simply say [Jason] Richardson is mired in a shooting slump, out of which he ought to break out soon. But his accuracy on long, two-point jumpers in Orlando is nearly identical to what it was in Phoenix, yet his effectiveness on threes has diminished considerably. His percentages elsewhere are roughly in line with what he put up as a Sun, so we have to wonder about the sorts of three-pointers he’s getting.”
- John Hollinger of ESPN Insider deciphers if Orlando is still an elite team and championship contender: “Orlando, meanwhile, has Howard, a wild card because of his ability to overwhelm defenses that lack a huge, physical center. With Howard having refined his post game this season and making a real run at James for the league’s PER crown, he’s providing a much more broad-based offensive threat to build the Magic attack around. Combine that with noted Howard stopper Kendrick Perkins’ departure to the Western Conference, and Orlando has to like its odds in the playoffs.”
- If Howard leaves Orlando in 2012, where would he go?
- An update on the statistical revolution in the NBA from Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Basketball analysts have had it easier for a variety of reasons. I suspect that the NBA is a little more open to change and new ideas by its very nature than baseball, the sport most rooted in tradition. APBRmetrics also benefited from coming of age right at the same time sabermetrics was breaking through. The publication of Moneyball tipped off both sports to the incentives to using statistics, since Michael Lewis’ bestseller was read by curious owners around the NBA.”