Game Preview: Magic vs Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs come to town and challenge the Orlando Magic

San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic

Tuesday, March 25th , 2008

Records: San Antonio 47-23, third place in the Central division; Orlando- 46-26, 1st place in the Southeast division. San Antonio on the road- 19-17; Orlando at home- 23-13

The Magic play their fifth consecutive home game against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, who are looking to stay afloat in the Western Conference. This is the second and final meeting between the two clubs with the first going to the Spurs 128-110, back in November. San Antonio leads the all-time series.

San Antonio is led by perennial MVP candidate Tim Duncan, who averages 19.6 ppg., 11.4 rpg., and 1.9 bpg. Duncan's "supporting cast" that Orlando will face features all-star point guard Tony Parker, who averages 18.7 ppg., and 5.8 apg, and leading scorer Manu Ginobili, who averages 20.0 ppg. Defensive specialist Bruce Bowen can lock up nearly anyone in the NBA, and he's an accomplished outside shooter from the corners, as he averages 6.0 ppg., and hits on nearly 43% of his three-point attempts. Rounding out the starting lineup is center Fabricio Oberto, who is an active big man who scores 4.7 ppg., and pulls down 5.3 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action per night.

The Spurs depth includes veteran guards Jacques Vaughn, Damon Stoudemire, and Michael Finley, as well as forwards Kurt Thomas and Robert Horry. Throw in Ime Odoka and Matt Bonner, and San Antonio has one of the deepest teams in all of the NBA.

Statistically speaking
The Spurs are 25th in the league in points scored (95.6 ppg.), 14th in field goal percentage (45.47%), 10th in adjusted field goal percentage (50%), 9th in three point shooting (37%), 14th in free throw percentage (76.15%), 6th in field goal percentage allowed (44.78%), 3rd in opponents ppg. (91.1), 2nd in opponents three point shooting (34%), 22nd in steals (6.6/gm.), 4th in turnovers (12.1/gm.), 26th in blocks (4.1/gm.), 21st in rebounding (41.1/gm.), and 17th in assists (21.3/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up:
6th scoring (104.9 ppg.), 4th FG % (47.43%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (54%), 4th three point shooting (39%), 24th FT% (72.77%), 8th FG% allowed (44.95%), 14th opponents scoring (99.8 ppg.), 14th opponents three point shooting (36%), 28th steals (6.1/gm.), 19th turnovers (14.1/gm.), 25th in blocks (4.1/gm.), 13th rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 22nd in assists (20.5/gm.).

What do the stats say? San Antonio is a hard-nosed defensive team that defends the outside shot well. They have some trouble scoring in the halfcourt, despite having three extremely talented players.

Best matchup for San Antonio:
Tony Parker vs. Jameer Nelson- Tony Parker is one of the best penetrators from the guard position in the entire league, and may be the quickest guard in the game. Nelson will have a very difficult time staying in front of Parker. Parker had 32 points and 9 assists against Nelson and the Magic back in November.

Best matchup for Orlando:
Hedo Tukoglu vs. Manu Ginobili- Hedo's size will bother Ginobili and Turk should be able to post him up down low. Turkoglu scored 26 points, dished out 5 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds against his former team back in November.

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Play inside out. San Antonio is one of the best teams in the league at defending the three point shot, and the Magic tend to fall in love with that shot and take some bad ones. If Orlando can drive the ball to the basket they will have success and then it will lead to open three point opportunities.

2. Hold on to the basketball. If the Magic are going to defeat the defending champs for the second consecutive year at home, they must limit their turnovers and the opportunities for the Spurs to get easy baskets.

3. Rebound, rebound, rebound. Orlando must keep the Spurs big men off the glass and limit their second chance opportunities. If the Magic are the more aggressive team, they may come out with the victory.

Final thoughts:
This is a great test for the Magic to see exactly where they are against another Western Conference power. San Antonio plays playoff style basketball, with their great defense, and the Magic must buckle down and play tight D of their own if they are to compete with the Spurs.