Game Preview: Magic vs Sixers

Orlando is back home to face Philadelphia after a tough loss on the road.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic

Friday, February 22nd , 2008

Records: Orlando- 34-22, 1st place in the Southeast division; Philadelphia- 24-41, fourth place in the Atlantic division. Philadelphia on the road- 9-17; Orlando at home- 14-11

Line: Magic by 7

The Magic play their first home game of the second half of the season as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers. This is the first meeting between the two clubs in Orlando, as the Magic won the first meeting in the city of Brotherly Love, 108-106, just three weeks ago. The Magic hold a 47-25 edge in the all time series.

Philadelphia is a very athletic team that is led by guard Andre Iguodala who averages 19.4 points per game, and 2.1 steals per game (fifth in the NBA). In the middle, the Sixers have seven footer Samuel Dalembert, who averages a near double double, with 11.4 points per game, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks. Commanding the point is veteran Andre Miller, who averages 16.6 points per game, and leads the team with 6.6 assists. The rest of the Sixers starting lineup is rounded out with youngsters Willie Green and Thaddeus Young, who are role players who average a combined 19.2 ppg., and 6.4 rebounds.

Philadelphia has talent off the bench, as they bring guard Louis Williams, who averages 10.8 ppg. and better than 3 assists in just 22.6 minutes, sharp shooting guard Gordon Giricek, and active forwards Rodney Carney and Reggie Evans. Evans does all the dirty work as he grabs better than 8 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action each night.

Statistically speaking
The 76ers are 26th in the league in points scored (94.2 ppg.), 15th in field goal percentage (45.41%), 23rd in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 30th in three point shooting (31%), 30th in free throw percentage (70.12%), 17th in field goal percentage allowed (45.48%), 7th in opponents ppg. (95.2), 12th in opponents three point shooting (35%), 5th in steals (8.3/gm.), 20th in turnovers (14.5/gm.), 14th in rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 21st in assists (20.1/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.0 ppg.), 5th FG % (46.91%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 8th three point shooting (37%), 23rd FT% (72.58%), 11th FG% allowed (45.08%), 19th opponents scoring (100.4 ppg.), 16th opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th steals (6.3/gm.), 16th turnovers (14.3/gm.), 13th rebounding (42.3/gm.), and 22nd in assists (20.1/gm.).

Best matchup for Philadelphia: Andre Miller vs. Jameer Nelson- although Nelson has been playing at a high level over the last two weeks, Miller is a very strong point guard that has definite post-up skills. Miller should be able to get into the lane freely and find open shooters if the Magic double-team. Miller scored 23 points and dished out 11 assists in the first meeting between these two teams.

Best matchup for Orlando: Rashard Lewis vs. Thaddeus Young- Lewis can elevate and shoot over Young, or go around him. Lewis scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in Orlando's victory over Philly three weeks ago.

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Get into a track meet. Philadelphia has trouble scoring points, and they won't be able to sustain the up tempo game that the Magic like to play. Running the 76ers will also neutralize Samuel Dalembert's defensive prowess.

2. Grab every rebound. If Philadelphia is limited to one shot per possession, it is not very likely that they'll find enough offense to pull out a victory.

3. Limit turnovers. In Orlando's narrow 108-106 victory over the Sixers three weeks ago, they committed twice as many turnovers as Philly (16), and it led to 24 Sixers points. If the Magic can take care of the ball, they should coast in this one.

Final thoughts: The Sixers have been playing great ball as of late, and the Magic apparently left their defense in Detroit. I think they make a pit stop on the way home, pick it back up and beat the overachieving, yet talent deprived 76ers.

For our gamblers out there: Philly has been playing well, and although I don't believe they'll win the game, take the points.


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


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