Tip Off: 7:30 PM (PST)

Projected Starters

Orlando                                                                     Golden State

PG – Jameer Nelson                                              Charles Jenkins

SG –  Jason Richardson                                         Monta Ellis

SF –  Hedo Turkoglu                                              Dorell Wright

PF – Ryan Anderson                                             David Lee

C –    Dwight Howard                                            Andris Biedrins

Scope the opposition: Get your Magic fix at Magic Basketball.

Preview: The Golden State Warriors (3-6) are coming off a thrilling overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and will be facing off tonight against an Orlando Magic team (7-3) who was victorious in Portland last night.

The Magic are one of the best scoring teams in the NBA, as evidenced by their 103.5 offensive efficiency rating (eighth in the league). A big part of why Orlando does such a great job of scoring the ball is Dwight Howard. Indeed, the talented big man does a good job of catching the ball on the low block and scoring with his back to the basket when faced with single coverage.

Howard is quick enough to drop step in the lane and dunk his defender into the basket; but he has also evolved enough as a post player that now he can score on right or left-handed hook shots after backing up his defender or he can face up his man and drive by him for a running hook.

Thus, Howard is obviously a huge part of what the Magic do on offense but he’s not their only option mind you. The player commonly referred to as Superman is surrounded by a multitude of shooters that are ready and willing to fire away whenever they get looks at the basket. Indeed, the Magic are so trigger-happy as a team that they run to the 3-point line on fast break opportunities. Considering the fact they convert 37.9 percent of their 3-point attempts (sixth in the NBA), the strategy isn’t necessarily a bad one.

Given the team’s shooting ability, opponents usually try to close out hard on the Magic shooters, which give them the opportunity to run a lot of pick-and-pops and then pump fake defenders out of their shoes.

It’s an interesting strategy really; Orlando attempts 24.3 shots from deep per game (second most in the league) but also manages to generate 24.9 shots directly at the rim per game (ninth in the association) according to Hoopdata. Essentially, the Magic play inside out, but also outside in.

On defense, the Magic boast a 99.4 defensive efficiency rating (12th in the NBA) because of their ability to shut down the painted area. On the season, Orlando is surrendering a mere 34.4 points in the paint per game (second best figure in the association). At the heart of that defense is Dwight Howard. The big man does a fantastic job of coming out to contain the ball handler in pick-and-roll defense and then retreating to the paint to guard his man all the while deterring the player with the ball from driving to the basket.

And just in case someone does make it into the lane, Howard has the ability to either swat the shot away or simply change the shot enough to force the miss.

Because the Magic rarely need to double team opposing players (whether they are perimeter or interior players), they rarely get caught leaving a player unguarded for an open shot.

With that said, for all of the Magic’s ability to defend as a unit; they do have some very poor individual defenders. Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson can both be taken off the dribble and posted up successfully. As a result, their shortcomings on the defensive end means that at times some additional help will be sent their way or perhaps a full fledged double-team.

The Golden State Warriors like to run the offense for the most part through their guards and ask them to find open players for open shots; but the Dubs may make an adjustment and go to David Lee against Ryan Andersin and Glen “Big Baby” Davis and ask him to score on them on the block. Lee will probably draw some extra attention, which will open up the floor for his teammates.

Also, the Magic might get away from their conventional offense by trying to post up Jason Richardson against Monta Ellis to wear him down and possibly draw fouls.

Orlando game notes: Last season, Jason Richardson averaged 25.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game on 57.1 percent field goal shooting and 63.6 percent 3-point field goal shooting against the Warriors.

Golden State game notes: Last season, Monta Ellis averaged 29.5 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game on 51.2 percent field goal shooting against the Magic.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at JM.Poulard@Warriorsworld.net.