Game Preview: Magic vs Timberwolves

The Magic will try to get to the 50 win mark for the first time in 12 years as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night at the Amway Arena. The Magic won the previous meeting between these two111-103, back in November. Orlando leads the all-time series 22-15.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Orlando Magic

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Records:Orlando- 49-29, Southeast division champions; Minnesota- 19-59, fourth place in the Northwest division.

Minnesota on the road- 5-33; Orlando at home- 24-15.

The Timberwolves are led by their dynamic young forward, Al Jefferson who scores 21.1 points per game and grabs 11.2 rebounds per contest.  They have a mostly young backcourt which consists of former Los Angeles Clipper Marco Jaric and Randy Foye.  Those two combine for better than 20 ppg., and 8 apg.  The Wolves have a somewhat undersized frontcourt with Kirk Snyder and Ryan Gomes, who average nearly 20 ppg., and 11 rpg. 

Off the bench, Minnesota features Sebastian Telfair and Rashard McCants at guard, and former Florida Gator Corey Brewer at small forward, with Craig Smith and former Orlando veteran Michael Doleac

Statistically speaking:
The Wolves are 28th in the league in points scored (95.0 ppg.), 18th in field goal percentage (45.04%), 21st in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 24th in three point shooting (35%), 20th in free throw percentage (73.68%), 27th in field goal percentage allowed (47.19%), 21st in opponents ppg. (102.0), 11th in opponents three point shooting (36%), 13th in steals (7.5/gm.), 19th in turnovers (14.0/gm.), 29th in blocks (3.7/gm.), 23rd in rebounding (41.0/gm.), and 26th in assists (19.9/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up:
6th scoring (104.3 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.2%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 4th three point shooting (38%), 27th FT% (72.36%), 6th FG% allowed (44.59%), 13th opponents scoring (99.5 ppg.), 13th opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th steals (6.2/gm.), 16th turnovers (13.9/gm.), 26th in blocks (4.1/gm.), 13th rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 22nd in assists (20.5/gm.).

What do the stats say?
Minnesota is neither good offensively nor defensively.  The young athletic T-Wolves defend the three-point shot well, but do nothing else effectively. 

Best matchup for Minnesota: 
Al Jefferson vs. Dwight Howard- Jefferson and Howard are friends, and both usually bring their "A" game when matched up against each other.  Jefferson scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first matchup between these two. 

Best matchup for Orlando:
Hedo Turkoglu vs. Kirk Snyder- Snyder doesn't have enough size to handle Turkoglu in the post, and following an off night for Turk, he should play well Friday night against Minnesota. 

Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Show up. The game is definitely meaningless for both teams, but Orlando needs to hit the playoffs with positive momentum.  They are much more talented than the visiting Wolves, and should have no problem winning the game. 

2. Keep turnovers to a minimum.  Minnesota will not be able to generate enough offense on their own to win without getting some help from Orlando.  If the Magic play their game and move the ball around well, they should breeze.

3. Double-team Al Jefferson.  Jefferson is the only real offensive threat on the Wolves, and if he gets shut down, so does Minnesota. 

Final thoughts:
The Magic bounced back with a great effort Wednesday night against Chicago, and they are playing an even weaker opponent Friday night.  The most important thing for the Magic will be to leave the game injury free.