Game Preview: Magic at Pistons

The Magic open the "official" second half of their season on the road against their hated rival, the Detroit Pistons.

Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Records: Orlando- 33-21, 1st place in the Southeast division; Detroit- 39-13, 1st place in the Central division. Orlando on the road- 19-10; Detroit at home- 21-4

Line: Pistons by 7

This is the final meeting between the two clubs, as the Pistons have won two of three, and blew the Magic out last time they've squared off at the Palace back in January, 101-93, in a game which wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated. The Pistons hold a 42-29 edge in the all time series, and have won 14 of the last 16 meetings.

Detroit has arguably the best starting five in all of basketball, boasting Eastern Conference All-Stars Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace, to go along with all-around great player Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess. Hamilton leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.3 ppg., followed by Billups who averages 17.3 ppg., and 7.1 assists. McDyess is the leading rebounder, grabbing 8.7 boards per game, and although Wallace's stats are down (12.8 ppg., 7.1 rpg.), he is deadly when the game is on the line.

The Pistons don't lose much when they go to their bench, as power forward Jason Maxiell could be a starter for most teams. Maxiell brings energy off the pine and plays much larger than his 7.9 ppg., and 5.3 rpg. would indicate. Jarvis Hayes is a very good scorer off the bench, and Primo Brezec and Walter Herrmann give the Pistons some good minutes. Rodney Stuckey, Amir Johnson, and Aaron Afflalo are all talented players that show energy and can get Detroit by while their starters are resting.

Statistically speaking
The Pistons are 15th in the league in points scored (97.7 ppg.), 10th in field goal percentage (45.95%), 12th in adjusted field goal percentage (50%), 7th in three point shooting (38%), 15th in free throw percentage (75.51%), 2nd in field goal percentage allowed (43.55%), 2nd in opponents ppg. (89.6), 2nd in opponents three point shooting (33%), 15th in steals (7.5/gm.), 1st in turnovers (11.0/gm.), 21st in rebounding (40.9/gm.), and 9th in assists (22.7/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.0 ppg.), 5th FG % (46.91%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 9th three point shooting (37%), 23rd FT% (72.5%), 11th FG% allowed (45.08%), 20th opponents scoring (100.7 ppg.), 19th opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th steals (6.3/gm.), 16th turnovers (14.3/gm.), 11th rebounding (42.4/gm.), and 22nd in assists (20.1/gm.).

Best matchup for Detroit: Chauncey Billups vs. Jameer Nelson- Chauncey is one of the very best point guards in the game and he can score whenever he needs to. In the only meeting in which the Magic beat Detroit, Billups didn't look for his shot as much as usual. Detroit corrected that in the rematch a few days later. Billups is too big and quick for Nelson, and Orlando will be forced to double team, which leaves them susceptible against the three-point shot, which Detroit is one of the best in the league at shooting.

Best matchup for Orlando: Rashard Lewis vs. Rasheed Wallace- Lewis can elevate and shoot over Wallace, or go around him. Lewis has averaged nearly 17 points per game against the Pistons this year, and scored 16 and grabbed six boards against them in Orlando's only victory.

Keys to a Magic victory:

    1. Make free throws. If Orlando is going to pull the upset on the road they can't leave any points on the scoreboard. They have to make good on the opportunities they get from the line.

    2. Grab every rebound. The Magic will have to control the glass against an active Detroit team that gets a lot of second chance points. Orlando must be aggressive and beat the Pistons at their own game.

    3. Get into a track meet. Detroit is better in the half court game, especially defensively and if the Magic can get out and run, they will have a chance for some easy baskets. The Pistons don't want to play an up tempo type of game.

Final thoughts: Coming off the All-Star break in which three of the Pistons starters were present, they are susceptible for a possible letdown. If the Magic keep the tempo up, control the glass, and shoot a solid percentage from the line, they can steal a game in Motown.

For our gamblers out there: History says Detroit will win, but I like Orlando with the seven points.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius Radio, MySpace Sports and Charlie is also a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

For more, go to: