Game Preview: Magic vs Warriors

Golden State Warriors travel to Orlando to take on the Magic

Golden State Warriors vs. Orlando Magic

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Records: Orlando- 40-23, 3rd place in the Eastern Conference; Golden State- 38-23, 8th place in the Western Conference.  Golden State on the road- 17-13; Orlando at home- 18-11

The Magic return to the Amway Arena where they've won five in a row. This is the second and final meeting with the Warriors with Orlando taking the first in the Bay area, 123-117 in overtime. The Magic lead the all time series 22-16.

Magic fans are in for a treat Saturday night as the Golden State Warriors are a very athletic team that loves to run and play at a high tempo. Golden State is led by guard Baron Davis who averages 22 points per game, 7.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Monta Ellis is one of the most exciting players that nobody outside the Bay area knows about, as he can score from nearly anywhere, and is explosive when taking the ball to the hoop. Ellis averages 19.5 ppg. and shoots 53.5% from the field. The Warriors starting lineup is rounded out with small forward Stephen Jackson (20.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 4.1 apg.), who has never met a shot he didn't like, Al Harrington (14.4 ppg., 5.4 rpg.), and veteran Chris Webber (3.9 ppg.), who is a very good passer and not much else.

Golden State has talent off the bench, as they bring guard Mickael Pietrus, who averages 6.2 ppg. and 3 rebounds in just 18.1 minutes, forwards Matt Barnes and Austin Croshere, who can both shoot from the outside, and Andris Biedrins, who does the dirty work and is a solid defender.

Statistically speaking
The Warriors are 1st in the league in points scored (110.6 ppg.), 8th in field goal percentage (46.1%), 6th in adjusted field goal percentage (52%), 16th in three point shooting (35%), 18th in free throw percentage (74.77%), 23rd in field goal percentage allowed (46.28%), 30th in opponents ppg. (107.8), 20th in opponents three point shooting (37%), 2nd in steals (9.1/gm.), 8th turnovers (13.2/gm.), 18th in blocked shots (4.6/gm.), 13th in rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 7th in assists (23.0/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.3 ppg.),  5th FG % (47.15%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 6th three point shooting (38%), 23rd FT% (72.69%), 10th FG% allowed (44.93%), 17th opponents scoring (100.2 ppg.), 17th opponents three point shooting (36%), 26th steals (6.2/gm.), 14th turnovers (14.0/gm.), 24th in blocked shots (4.2/gm.), 12th in rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 23rd in assists (20.2/gm.).

What do the stats tell us? Golden State loves to run the ball up the court, but they don't turn it over very often. Lots of great shooters, but not much of an inside presence.

Best matchup for Golden State: Baron Davis vs. Jameer Nelson- Davis is a big, strong point guard who can score from nearly everywhere and create open shots for his teammates. This is one of the toughest matchups that Nelson will face all year.

Best matchup for Orlando: Dwight Howard vs. Chris Webber (or anyone that the Warriors throw at him)- Howard has too much size and strength for anyone on the Warriors to cover him effectively. They will be forced to collapse down and leave the outside open. Howard scored 18 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in the first meeting.

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Get Dwight the ball early. Orlando has an advantage almost every night with Dwight Howard and if they get him started early on, the entire offense tends to flourish. Howard should dominate and create on Saturday night.

2. Make the three's. Dwight Howard will draw double teams throughout the night, and that should open up the outside. Orlando needs to hit from the outside.

3. Slow down the tempo. Golden State plays the same game Orlando likes to play, but they play it better. They take advantage of poor defensive teams, especially in transition. If the Magic can make it more of a half-court game, they will have a better chance.

Final thoughts: Orlando has been playing well lately, winning 9 out of their last 11 games. The Warriors have shooters all over the floor and Orlando must do a better job of defending.

For our gamblers out there: Magic are due for a letdown. Take the Warriors and the points.