Game Preview: Magic at Wizards

The Orlando Magic hit the road to play the Washington Wizards for the first time this season.

Orlando Magic vs. Washington Wizards

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Tipoff: 7:00pm
Television: Sun Sports (Central Florida)
Radio: WDBO 580AM

Records: Orlando- 39-23, 1st place in the Southeast division; Washington- 29-30, second place in the Southeast division. Orlando on the road- 21-12; Washington at home- 17-12

The Magic hit the road to play the Washington Wizards for the first time this season. This is the first of four meetings with the Wizards which will be played over the next five weeks. This is the 73rd meeting between the two teams, and the Magic lead the all time series 46-27.

Starting Lineups:
PG: Jameer Nelson (10.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.6 apg, 82% FT, and 45% FG).
SG: Maurice Evans (8.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 37% 3P, and 48% FG).
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (19.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 84% FT, and 39% 3P).
PF: Rashard Lewis (18.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 84% FT, and 40% 3P).
C: Dwight Howard (21.7 ppg, 14.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.4 bpg, and 60% FG).

PG: Antonio Daniels (8.8 pg, 3.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, 78% FT, and 45% FG).
SG: DeShawn Stevenson (11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 80% FT, and 38% FG).
SF: Antawn Jamison (21.2 ppg, 10.4, 1.6 apg, 78% FT, and 43% FG).
PF: Andray Blatche (7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 72% FT, 47% FG).
C: Brendan Haywood: (10.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 74% FT, and 53% FG).

Key Bench Players:
PG: Carlos Arroyo
SG: Keith Bogans
PF: Brian Cook

PG: Roger Mason
SG: Nick Young
PF: Darius Songaila

Statistically speaking
The Wizards are 15th in the league in points scored (98.0 ppg.), 24th in field goal percentage (44.03%), 22nd in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 26th in three point shooting (34%), 3rd in free throw percentage (79.2%), 20th in field goal percentage allowed (45.76%), 12th in opponents ppg. (97.9), 24th in opponents three point shooting (37%),8th in steals (7.9/gm.), 7th turnovers (12.8/gm.), 13th in blocked shots (4.9/gm.), 15th in rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 29th in assists (18.8/gm.). Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.3 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.06%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 7th three point shooting (38%), 24th FT% (72.61%), 11th FG% allowed (45.04%), 18th opponents scoring (100.4 ppg.), 19th opponents three point shooting (37%), 26th steals (6.2/gm.), 13th turnovers (14.0/gm.), 24th in blocked shots (4.3/gm.), 11th in rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 24th in assists (20.1/gm.).

What do the stats tell us? Washington is a very average team, possibly a little below average without the services of Caron Butler. The Wizards are neither great nor horrible on offense or defense, and seem to be very inconsistent as evidenced by their 29-30 record.

Best matchup for Washington: Antawn Jamison vs. Rashard Lewis- Jamison has taken his game to a new level this year, as he can score from virtually anywhere on the court and is a very active rebounder. Jamison should have his way with Lewis, who has been playing better defense of late. Jamison averaged 33.3 ppg. and 11.5 rpg. against the Magic last year.

Best matchup for Orlando: Hedo Turkoglu vs. Darius Songaila- With Caron Butler likely to miss Wednesday's game with injury, Turkoglu should be able to beat Darius Songaila, or whoever the Wizards throw at him off the dribble. Look for Turk to have a big game against a team that had two All-Star reserves.

Keys To Victory:

1) Win the battle up front against Jamison and Blatche, or be prepared for a long night of fighting to stay alive in this game. The Magic have a huge advantage with Dwight Howard, ride him as long as you can.

2) While Daniels isn't a Arenas by any means, he knows how to turn up the heat in certain mismatches. Orlando needs to shut down the penetration from the point guard position defensively. After faltering against the Boshless Raptors for most of Tuesday's game, don't expect much back court defense in this one.

3) The Magic must find a way to win the rebounding battle, which means shutting down Washington's physical frontcourt.

4) Be ready to toss up different offensive sets if foul troubles set in. This game could have a playoff atmosphere, and with the Wizards at home, the Magic will need to adjust on the fly.

5. Avoid turning the ball over. The Wizards are one, if not the best team in the Eastern Conference at converting turnovers into quick baskets. The Wizards have a lot to play for in this game, and the Magic must be ready to match that intensity.

1) Do their best to keep Howard from being a major factor in this game. With interior scorers and board crashers filling the inside lane, it's very possible Howard could get into early foul trouble again. Should this occur, and if the Magic can't find a quick answer, the game could be over before it begins.

2) Utilize their size down low, and also switch on and off with the half court game. Make enough moves and baskets to keep the Magic honest.

3) With the excellent core of shot blockers on the wing, guard the perimeter, and force the Magic to force the ball inside. Doing so will keep The Magic from shooting a high percentage from behind the arc, and will also lean them away from their pick and pup/roll jump shooting they rely so heavily on.

4) This game can't be treated as just another game. The Magic are 8.5 games ahead of the Wizards, and Washington needs to make up ground and be ready to deliver a knock out blow to an Orlando team that played less than 24 hours prior to tipoff.

5) This is the second big game in as many nights for the Magic, so just take it to them and give them no space to move, and double off Howard and force him to get frustrated, in foul trouble, or live at the line. It's a long way before the season is over, but if Washington loses this game, it may all but clinch the Southeast division for Orlando.

Prediction: After seeing Orlando dominate the Knicks, but mostly in thanks to the Knicks, and then have the trouble they displayed against the Raptors, there's no way I'm going Magic tonight... I'm taking the Wizards, and I'm taking them big... Wizards by 14. (103-89).

Charlie's take: Orlando has played poorly on the second half of back to backs, against Eastern Conference opponents, especially on the road. This is the second half of a back to back, against a team from the east, which will be played on the road. I like the Wiz and give the points.

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