Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 93

May 03

Recap: Indiana Pacers 97, Orlando Magic 74

AP Photo/John Raoux

BOX SCORE

This is all you need to know after the Indiana Pacers beat the Orlando Magic on the road in Game 3 by the score of 97-74 to take a 2-1 series lead in their best-of-seven first round playoff matchup.

In 63 minutes, the Pacers’ starting lineup (Hill-George-Granger-West-Hibbert) has outscored the Magic by 37.4 points per 100 possessions. On the flipside, in 58 minutes, Orlando’s starting lineup (Nelson-J. Richardson-Turkoglu-Anderson-Davis) has been outscored by Indiana by 32.3 points per 100 possessions.

Only when the Magic tap into their bench do they start to see positive trends on the court. In 18 minutes, Orlando’s second-most used lineup of Duhon-Redick-Q. Richardson-Clark-Davis has outscored the Pacers by 4.6 points per 100 possessions.

Those numbers are after three games.

There’s more lineup data, but let’s concentrate on those three 5-man units because they basically tell the story of Game 3 (not to mention Indiana’s continued third quarter dominance also dictating the outcome of the game).

Like in Games 1 and 2, the Pacers’ starters jumped out to an early lead against the Magic’s starters in the first quarter. And just like in Games 1 and 2, Orlando’s bench was able to cut into their deficit with a strong second quarter. And just like in Game 2, Indiana’s starters blew the game wide open in the third quarter with an extended run of dominance.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s hard not to connect the dots here. The Pacers’ starting five is sorely outplaying the Magic right now, while Orlando’s starting five is being sorely outplayed by Indiana.

On Wednesday, Hibbert and Granger had their best games of the series up to this point, making their presence felt the most in the third quarter in which Indiana put the game away. In the period, Hibbert’s length was too much for the Magic to deal with, as he was able to his spots on the low block with ease and without his hook shots getting contested while also hitting the glass for offensive rebound putbacks. As for Granger, he caught fire on the perimeter with that quick-trigger release of his.

Paul George was the third man of a three-man wrecking crew for the Pacers in the third quarter, doing his damage by attacking the rim. All in all, Hibbert, Granger, and George accounted for 28 of Indiana’s 32 points in the period.

That aforementioned second unit for Orlando has done a good job of cutting into second quarter deficits once the starters come out of the game after slow first quarter starts, but it makes almost no difference when those same starters get ran out of the gym as they have been in third quarters. The Magic can’t afford to keep playing catch-up against Indiana — their margin for error is small as it is.

To be frank, for Orlando to have any chance to come back in this series, head coach Stan Van Gundy has to make a change in the starting lineup. If not, then the Magic aren’t going to last much longer in the postseason. The clock is ticking for Orlando.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Granger (26 points and nine rebounds) and Hibbert (18 points and 10 rebounds) were the “co-MVPs” of Game 3. Granger and Hibbert combined for 21 of the Pacers’ 32 points in another game-changing third quarter for Indiana.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

Outside of Glen Davis and J.J. Redick, no one else for the Magic had much success against the Pacers. So go ahead and hand out “LVPs” to guys like Ryan Anderson, Jameer Nelson, among others. They stunk.

Defining Moment

It’s no secret that Indiana was one of the best third-quarter teams in the NBA during the regular season. The Pacers proved that in Games 2 and 3, putting both games out of reach with dominant third quarters.

May 02

Preview: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic, Game 3

Essentials

  • Teams: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic
  • Date: May. 2, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Amway Center

Records

  • Pacers: 42-24
  • Magic: 37-29

Probable starters

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Advanced stats

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.7 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (9th of 30)

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.0 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

May 02

Wednesday’s Magic Word

  • Will the Amway Center be loud tonight?
  • Danny Granger openly admits the Indiana Pacers had a bit of a letdown when it became known that Dwight Howard underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back and would miss the playoffs. Granger says it reflected in the Pacers’ Game 1 loss.
  • Shot selection is of grave importance to the Orlando Magic in Game 3.
  • Playing well in the first and third quarters is important, too, for the Magic.
  • Dwight is no longer the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Today, Tyson Chandler officially won the Defensive Player of the Year award for this season.
  • Five keys to the game for Orlando in anticipation of Game 3.
  • Earl Clark has been a difference-maker for the Magic defensively in their first round playoff series against Indiana.
  • According to Cosmopolitan magazine, J.J. Redick is the hottest player in the NBA.
  • Want to know what every player for Orlando is wearing shoe-wise? Here you go.
  • Tyler Hansbrough remarks that the Magic, even without Dwight, are “a deadly team.”
  • What matchup adjustments might occur in Game 3 between Orlando and the Pacers? Brett Koremenos of HoopSpeak tries to provide some answers.
  • There’s a mutual respect between head coaches Stan Van Gundy and Frank Vogel.

May 01

Orlando searching for answers on offense

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

By now you’ve heard. The third quarter of last night’s game between the Pacers and Magic seems to have been the series turning point for Indiana. Down a bucket at the half, the Pacers came out in the third and cold-cocked the Magic to the tune of a 30-13 quarter that provided the final margin of victory.

The question going forward is exactly what to make of that run. Was it an outlier or a harbinger? Was it a case of regression — the Pacers just starting to perform how we figured they always would — or was it a case of the Pacers playing exceptionally?

To my eye, there were four reasons the Pacers came alive in the third: 1.) they mauled the Magic on the glass, 2.) they converted at the line, 3.) they snuffed out most of Orlando’s initial actions on pick-and-rolls, and 4.) George Hill began once more to resemble a professional basketball player. Of these, we’ll ignore Hill’s resurfacing, for the simple reason that I have no idea whether he will again net 16 points on 8 shots, as he had at the end of last night’s third quarter.

I’ll focus first on the fouls and the rebounding, because they’re really two sides of the same coin. I hate to point this out, but the Pacers only shot 28 free throws last night, which is a totally reasonable figure for a team playing with the sort of interior advantage the Pacers have. Even though, at times, during the third quarter it seemed there was a whistle on every play, the Magic really can’t argue with a 28-19 free throw disparity in favor of Indiana given the stylistic and personnel differences. The rebounding? Stay with me, because this is where things get grim.

Look, the Pacers are going to outrebound the Magic. Even in Game 1, Indiana was +5 on the boards. The Pacers are a strong rebounding outfit no matter how you slice it — a top-five team in raw per-game rebounding and in offensive rebound percentage. However, they simply bludgeoned Orlando on the offensive glass last night, corralling 37.5 percent of their own misses. While this seems like a shocking figure, nearly 8 percentage points above Indiana’s season average, when you consider the fact that Indiana’s offensive rebound percentage in the Magic’s Game 1 win was 30.6 percent, it’s hard to come to the conclusion the Magic will remedy this situation.

So it’s easy to say that the Pacer’s 15-1 rebound run in the third quarter is an outlier, but in all likelihood, it was just a pretty fast regression to what we’re likely to see for this series.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 01

HoopIdea: Coaches booths in the NBA

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

In football, offensive and defensive coordinators routinely watch their own team’s games from the comfort of a booth high in the sky and they call in plays to players and coaches on the field via headsets. Some coaches have access to televisions to watch replays and can make suggestions to the head coach about plays that should be challenged.

In basketball, the assistant coaches (who are crammed between the head coach and bench players) twist their necks in an effort to see around the monsters covering all 94 feet of hardwood. Occasionally, the assistant coaches crank their head skyward to look at the replay being shown on the JumboTron directly above their heads.

Coaches in the booth
One or two assistant coaches from each NBA team should sit in a booth during the game. Like their NFL counterparts, these coaches would be able to watch the game unfold live at the same angle they review the game on tape. Why should they receive their game day information at a different angle than the one at which they review and teach the game?

There is obviously technology available to communicate effectively between the booth and the bench. It may look strange to see Stan Van Gundy wearing a headset, but who cares? The person on the other end of the headset may provide him with priceless information that will improve his team and the product on the floor.

Filling suites
Some NBA teams have struggled to fill all of their suites on game nights in the midst of the tough economy. This has led to some of the best seats in the stadium sitting dark while the greatest athletes in the world showcase their talents on the court below. Moving coaches to the booth would turn the light back on in at least two suites each night and provide a little boost to arena’s struggling to maintain an upbeat atmosphere.

Courtsides seats
Finally, removing two coaches from each bench means that four additional courtside seats will be available for paying customers each night. Over the course of 41 home games, teams would essentially be able to sell 164 additional court tickets. Mix in a few playoff games and moving the coaches to the booth could be a real moneymaker for the league.

May 01

Recap: Indiana Pacers 93, Orlando Magic 78

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

BOX SCORE

In the first half of Game 2 between the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers, you couldn’t help but think you were watching a rerun of Game 1 on NBA TV. After a quick start from the Pacers, in which they jumped out to an 11-point lead midway through the first quarter, the Magic slowly chipped away at their deficit and finally gained control of the game in the second quarter.

Just like Game 1.

Except this time, instead of Jameer Nelson picking apart Indiana’s defense in pick-and-roll sets, like he did in the second quarter of Game 1 to help Orlando jump out to a modest lead, it was the defense and Glen Davis that turned the tide momentarily in favor of the Magic in the second quarter of Game 2.

Granted, the Pacers missed some open shots but Orlando contested almost every other shot attempt. Once again, Earl Clark was one of the leading factors of the Magic’s heightened defensive intensity, coming off the bench and giving head coach Stan Van Gundy productive minutes in the period. It wasn’t just Clark giving it his all on defense, either.

Davis was a man possessed in the second quarter, playing with “no conscious” as he put it during his halftime interview. Davis’ energy and effort was off the charts, both on offense where he reeled off eight consecutive points to close out the period and on defense where the likes of Roy Hibbert offensively. Davis fought like it was no tomorrow and at that point in the game, there was no one for Indiana that was willing to match that intensity level.

Perhaps what aided Orlando the most, though, in the first half was their offensive rebounding and three-point shooting. Although the Magic (31.9 percent) shot much worse than the Pacers (47.2 percent) from the floor in the first and second quarters, 12 offensive rebounds (compared to just four for Indiana) allowed Orlando to put up 11 more shot attempts. And considering the Magic made six three-pointers in the first half compared to zero for the Pacers, that explains why Orlando was able to circumvent poor shooting to carry a 44-42 lead into halftime.

Then the third quarter happened.

For those that don’t know, during the regular season, Indiana was one of the best third quarter teams in the NBA. The Pacers’ efficiency differential in third quarters was +9.0, which ranked third in the league this season (only the Philadelphia 76ers were Portland Trail Blazers were better).

So it should come as no surprise, then, that the Magic were seemingly overwhelmed in the third quarter. Indiana came out with their best punch yet of the series, playing like the “uptempo, power post team” that they should be. Orlando, quite frankly, didn’t know how to respond to the Pacers taking things to another gear.

The key difference in the third quarter?

Rebounding.

Those offensive rebounds that served as a lifeboat for the Magic when they missed shots? Gone. Indiana out-rebounded Orlando 16-4 in the third quarter. That hurt the Magic, as they were held to one shot on practically every possession in the period and couldn’t respond to the Pacers’ extended run that ended up deciding the game.

After a Game 1 loss to Orlando, Indiana responded in kind.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

George Hill scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter, serving as the catalyst of the Pacers’ game-changing quarter that helped them win Game 2 (outscoring the Magic 30-13 in the period) after trailing 44-42 at halftime.

Defining Moment

Orlando outscored Indiana 65-63 in three of the four quarters. The problem is that the Magic got beat badly in the third quarter. The Pacers upped their energy level in that period and completely outplayed Orlando at both ends.

That Was … Important

Game 2 technically wasn’t a must-win for Indiana since they weren’t trying to stave off elimination. However, in NBA history, teams that go up 2-0 in a playoff series win 94.2 percent of the time. The Pacers avoid that scenario.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Apr 30

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers, Game 2

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: Apr. 30, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: NBA TV
  • Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Records

  • Magic: 37-29
  • Pacers: 42-24

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.0 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th of 30)

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.7 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (9th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

Apr 30

Jason Richardson’s crunch time shooting

While most people will talk about the Los Angeles Clippers putting together one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history, storming back from a 24-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies by the score of 99-98 on the road in Game 1 of their first round playoff series, lest everyone forget that the Orlando Magic put together a comeback of their own (albeit on a much smaller scale) in their Game 1 victory against the Indiana Pacers.

After Darren Collison made a jumper off the dribble near the left baseline to give the Pacers a seven-point lead at 77-70 with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter, the Magic went on an 11-0 run to — like the Clippers — close out the game and steal a Game 1 on the road.

At the epicenter of Orlando’s comeback was Jason Richardson.

With the score at 77-72 following a difficult floater high off the glass by Jameer Nelson off the dribble in the paint while fading away from the basket, Richardson made back-to-back three-pointers to give the Magic a lead they would never relinquish. And ironically enough, both three-point shots were generated from plays drawn up by head coach Stan Van Gundy following a timeout.

You know, the same head coach that Dwight Howard wants fired.

In any case, Van Gundy’s play designs were beautifully constructed, making use of a player that was having the most success shooting from behind the three-point line — Richardson.

_______

On this possession, with Orlando down 77-75 in the fourth quarter and the game winding down, Van Gundy opts to set up Richardson for a three-pointer to try to regain the lead after Indiana started to take control a few minutes prior.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 29

Recap: Orlando Magic 81, Indiana Pacers 77

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Heading into Game 1, not many people within the mainstream media and blogosphere were giving the Orlando Magic a chance in their first round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. Pacers in 5 games seemed to be the most common prediction out there. Head coach Stan Van Gundy noted as much before the game.

And it made sense. Excluding their games against the New York Knicks on April 5 and Philadelphia 76ers on April 7 (in which Dwight Howard played), the Magic went 4-8 without Dwight in the lineup. Defense, to no one’s surprise, became a major issue for Orlando. At the start of April, the Magic ranked 10th in Defensive Rating, allowing 102.5 points per 100 possessions each game. By the end of the regular season, Orlando was allowing 104.1 points per 100 possessions each game (ranking 12th in the NBA).

Quite a jump in the numbers in a month’s time.

With little to no interior presence defensively, opposing teams scored over, under, around, and through the Magic. In April (excluding the Knicks and Sixers games), Orlando’s opponent field goal percentage was 49.7 percent. To put that number in perspective, the Sacramento Kings’ opponent field goal percentage was 47.6 this season (ranked dead last in the league).

That’s what contributed most to Orlando’s slide down the standings.

So with the Pacers ranked 7th in Offensive Rating this season, it’s understandable that many people would predict a lopsided series (it still could happen). Who would stop Roy Hibbert? Who would stop Danny Granger? Who would stop David West?

Turns out the Magic, as a team, could — excluding West, who had 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the floor.

With all the talk about Orlando’s defense, it wasn’t an issue in Game 1 against Indiana. For the game, the Pacers shot 34.5 percent from the floor. That was a difference in the ballgame for the Magic and one of the primary reasons why they stole a game on the road against Indiana.

That and also the fact that the Pacers could not shut the door on Orlando when they were up 77-70 with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Magic went on an 11-0 run to end the game, partly due to Indiana shooting themselves in the foot time and again. Two wide open three-pointers missed by Paul George. Two missed free-throws, a missed layup, and a traveling violation by Danny Granger. Failed late game execution — why is Darren Collison taking a long two in isolation down 80-77 with 13.8 seconds left in the game?

And also Jason Richardson.

Yes, Richardson’s 4-year, $25 million contract is an eye-sore because he’s an aging wing player with declining athleticism at the age of 31. But he earned his keep in Game 1 by making two three-point shots in crunch time that fueled Orlando’s sprint to the finish line.

Throughout his career, Richardson has proven time and again in the playoffs that he’s not afraid of the big moment. Thanks to some clutch shooting from Richardson, the Pacers found that out for themselves.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

“J-Rich” was big, no doubt about it. But it was Jameer Nelson’s ability to break down Indiana’s defense (mostly in the first half) in pick-and-roll sets that put the Magic in a position to win Game 1.

X-Factor

When he wants to be, Earl Clark can be an impact player defensively. And he was, as his defense was a game-changer. Clark is lucky that his two missed free-throws in crunch time didn’t come back to haunt him.

Defining Moment

With 10.3 seconds left in the game and down 80-77 with possession of the basketball, needing a three-pointer to tie, Danny Granger had the ball at the top of the key and he traveled. Then this happened.

That Was … Surprising?

There was a general sense during the game that Indiana was expecting Orlando to roll over. You got that vibe from the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, too. Instead, the Pacers found themselves in a fight and lost.

Apr 28

Preview: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers, Game 1

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers
  • Date: Apr. 28, 2012
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: ESPN
  • Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Records

  • Magic: 37-29
  • Pacers: 42-24

Probable starters

Magic:

  • Jameer Nelson
  • Jason Richardson
  • Hedo Turkoglu
  • Ryan Anderson
  • Glen Davis

Pacers:

  • George Hill
  • Paul George
  • Danny Granger
  • David West
  • Roy Hibbert

Advanced stats

Magic:

  • Pace: 89.0 (29th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 105.0 (15th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th of 30)

Pacers:

  • Pace: 90.7 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.7 (7th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (9th of 30)

Read about the Pacers

8 Points, 9 Seconds

Page 93 of 252« First...102030...9192939495...100110120...Last »