Game Preview: Magic vs Wizards

The Washington Wizards come to town as the Magic play their third straight home game

Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Tipoff: 7:00pm

Records: Orlando- 45-24, 1st place in the Southeast division; Washington- 33-33, second place in the Southeast division. Washington on the road- 13-18; Orlando at home- 22-12

The Magic play their third consecutive home game against the Washington Wizards.  This is the third of four meetings with the Wizards, with Orlando winning the first two, the last coming just two weeks ago (122-92). This is the 75th  meeting between the two teams, and the Magic lead the all time series 47-27.

The Wizards enter the game as a hot team as they've won 6 of their last 9 games.  Washington is nearly back at full strength as they have Caron Butler back from a leg injury.  Butler, an All-Star this season is averaging 21.2 ppg., and 6.9 rpg.  Antawn Jamison may be the Wizards most valuable player as he can score in many different ways inside and out.  Jamison averages 21.5 ppg., and 10.4 rpg.  Washington may have guard Gilbert Arenas back, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury.  Arenas is a dynamic scorer who has played in just 8 games this season.  Arenas is nearly a 23 ppg. scorer for his career.  If Arenas can't go, former Magic guard DeShawn Stevenson will fill in at shooting guard.  Stevenson is having a career year scoring 11 ppg.  Antonio Daniels is the Wizards starting point guard, and Brendan Haywood is their starting center.

Off the bench, Washington gets solid production from guards Roger Mason and Nick Young, as well as forwards Darius Songaila and Dominic McGuire.  Spelling Haywood at center will be Aundray Blatche and Etan Thomas.

Statistically speaking
The Wizards are 14th in the league in points scored (98.6 ppg.), 24th in field goal percentage (44.21%), 21st in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 23rd  in three point shooting (34%), 4th  in free throw percentage (79.03%), T15th in field goal percentage allowed (45.71%), 11th  in opponents ppg. (98.6), 26th in opponents three point shooting (37%), 7th in steals (7.9/gm.), 7th  turnovers (12.9/gm.), 10th in blocked shots (5.0/gm.), 14th in rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 28th  in assists (19.2/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (105.0 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.67%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (54%), 5th three point shooting (38%), 25th  FT% (72.43%), 10th  FG% allowed (45.01%), 15th opponents scoring (100.2 ppg.), 17th opponents three point shooting (37%), 26th steals (6.2/gm.), 16th  turnovers (14.0/gm.), 24th in blocked shots (4.2/gm.), 13th in rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 22nd  in assists (20.4/gm.).

What do the stats tell us?  Washington is average on offense, despite having some dynamic offensive players.  They don't guard the three-point shot well, and that should play into the hands of the Magic.

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: Dwight Howard vs. Brendan Haywood- Although Haywood is a tough defender, Howard should be able to out-muscle him down low.  Howard has averaged 18.5 ppg. and 13 rpg. against the Wizards this year. 

Final thoughts: Although Washington has been playing well, the Magic matchup well against them.  Orlando has been red hot of late as they've won five straight and 13 out of their last 16 games.  Look for the mojo to continue for the Magic on Wednesday night.