Game Preview: Magic at Knicks

The Magic take to the road to play their second game in as many days against the hapless New York Knicks, who are in their usual position at this time of year, just playing out the string with just six games left. This is the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs, with the Orlando winning the first three. The Magic lead the all-time series 37-36.

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Records: Orlando- 48-28, Southeast division champions; New York- 20-56, last place in the Atlantic division. Orlando on the road- 25-13; New York at home- 13-24

New York is led by Jamal Crawford, who averages 20.9 ppg., and 5.1 apg. Power forward Zach Randolph scores 17.7 ppg., while grabbing 10.3 rpg. Fred Jones, Quentin Richardson, and Eddy Curry round out the Knicks starting lineup, and each is a one-on-one player who doesn't fit into the team concept.

Off the bench, the Knicks bring talented point guard Nate Robinson to go along with former first-round pick Mardy Collins. Jared Jeffries, Renaldo Balkman, and David Lee are active forwards, and Randolph Morris and Jerome James add depth at center.

Statistically speaking:
The Knicks are 24th in the league in points scored (96.3 ppg.), 28th in field goal percentage (43.9%), 27th in adjusted field goal percentage (47%), 28th in three point shooting (34%), 26th in free throw percentage (72.4%), 28th in field goal percentage allowed (47.52%), 23rd in opponents ppg. (103.3), 22nd in opponents three point shooting (37%), 26th in steals (6.3/gm.), 12th in turnovers (13.8/gm.), 30th in blocks (2.6/gm.), 12th in rebounding (42.0/gm.), and 30th in assists (18.6/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up:
6th scoring (104.4 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.31%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 4th three point shooting (39%), 25th FT% (72.55%), 7th FG% allowed (44.85%), 13th opponents scoring (99.7 ppg.), 16th opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th steals (6.2/gm.), 16th turnovers (13.9/gm.), 26th in blocks (4.1/gm.), 15th rebounding (41.9/gm.), and T22nd in assists (20.4/gm.).

What do the stats say?
New York is terrible on both ends of the court. They don't share the ball or play much defense in the paint. It is almost amazing that this team has won 20 games.

Best matchup for New York:
Jamal Crawford vs. Jameer Nelson- Crawford is a shoot-first type of point guard who is a dynamic scorer. Crawford is quick enough to go around Nelson or shoot over him. Crawford has averaged 21.7 ppg., and 6.7 apg. against Orlando this year.

Best matchup for Orlando:
Dwight Howard vs. Eddy Curry- Howard is far too quick and strong for Curry to handle, and the Orlando big man should have a fairly easy time against a group of Knicks defenders who are usually pretty disinterested. Howard is averaging 21.3 ppg., and 17.7 rpg. against New York this year.

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Show up. New York is just playing out the string with a lame duck coach. If the Magic can show some early intensity, the Knicks will pull their usual tank job and the fans at Madison Square Garden will once again turn on the home team.

2. Hit the glass. Orlando has been dominated on the glass lately, and although this game isn't very important to either team, the Magic must get their rebounding problems fixed prior to the start of the playoffs.

3. Get into a track meet. New York isn't an aggressive defensive team, and if the Magic can run them, they should find themselves with plenty of open shots.

Final thoughts:
If the Magic decide to play their starters the usual minutes, they shouldn't have a very difficult time pulling out a victory, even though it's the second road game in as many days.