Game Preview: Magic vs Mavericks

(Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Orlando comes back home to face Dallas on Monday. Here is a preview of this matchup:

Dallas Mavericks vs. Orlando Magic

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Records: Dallas-31-15, second place in the Southwest division; Orlando- 31-18, 1st place in the Southeast division. Dallas on the road- 11-12; Orlando at home- 12-8

Line: Magic by 2

The Magic play return home to play their first of a four game home-stand against the Dallas Mavericks. This is the second and final meeting between the two clubs, with the first meeting going to Dallas 111-108, back in Texas in December. This is the 40th meeting between the two, and the Magic hold a 20-19 edge.

Dallas can play both an up tempo, high octane type of game, or be very effective in the half court. The Mavs are led in scoring by the versatile Dirk Nowitzki who averages 22.5 points per game. Nowitzki is a mismatch for any defender, as he is a legitimate 7'0 tall, and he can operate on the low post, step out and shoot the three, and he's also quick enough to dribble by defenders. Dallas is hardly a one man gang, however, as they have former all-stars Josh Howard and Eddie Jones in their starting lineup, along with speedy point guard Devin Harris and the strong, yet underachieving Erick Dampier in the middle. Dallas also has fantastic depth with guard Jason Terry coming off the bench averaging 15 points per game, as well as former all-stars Jerry Stackhouse and Juwan Howard. Brandon Bass is a strong power forward that Orlando's big men must keep off the glass, and defensive specialists Trenton Hassell and DeSagana Diop can lock up most players. In the last meeting between these two teams, Dallas executed their offense to near perfection as they shot 52.5% from the field (42/80).

Statistically speaking

    The Mavericks are a team that seems to do everything well, as evidenced by their run of recent success and their current 31-15 record. Dallas is in the top 10 in scoring, field goal percentage, opponents field goal percentage, turnovers, assists to turnover ratio, blocked shots, points allowed, and are tops in the NBA in free throw percentage. There isn't much that they don't do well, but we found a few things: the Mavs are last in the NBA in forcing turnovers (just 12.2/gm.), 28th in steals (6.0/gm.), 17th in three point percentage (35%), 20th in offensive rebounding (10.4/gm.), and are 15th in the league in rebounding (42.1/gm.).

Best matchup for Dallas:

    Dirk Nowitzki vs. Rashard Lewis- Dirk is a horrible matchup for anyone, especially Rashard Lewis who isn't known as a fantastic defender. Dirk is about two inches taller and outweighs Lewis by about 15 lbs. In the first matchup, Dirk lit Lewis up to the tune of 31 points and 11 rebounds.

Best matchup for Orlando:

    Hedo Turkoglu vs. Josh Howard- Turkoglu is playing the best basketball of his career, and Hedo abused Howard and the Mavs for 26 points in their earlier meeting. Hedo has a three inch height advantage over Howard and should have his way with him in the post.

Keys to a Magic victory:

    1. Run ‘em. The Mavericks are on the second half of a back to back, after playing a physical game with the Detroit Pistons Sunday. If Orlando can keep an up tempo going, Dallas may not have enough gas left in the tank in the fourth quarter.

    2. Hit your free throws. The Magic are playing one of the elite teams in the NBA, and are outclassed in terms of talent and depth. Orlando can't leave any points on the court if they are going to keep their win streak going.

    3. Stop the penetration by the Dallas guards. Devin Harris isn't a great NBA player by any accounts, but he's very fast and he can drive the ball to the basket. Carlos Arroyo, Jameer Nelson, or Keyon Dooling must be able to shut off his penetration or it will be a very long evening for Orlando.

Final thoughts:

    The Magic have been playing marginal basketball against some soft competition, but they've been winning. They will have to put forth a great effort to beat the Mavs, and the Orlando frontcourt must dominate. Orlando is at a very serious disadvantage when it comes to bench play, as the Mavs throw out 10 guys who can really play. If the Magic get some kind of spark from someone on the bench (double digit points), they will have a shot.

For our gamblers out there:

    Dallas was embarrassed by a more physical team just 26 hours before them and the Magic tipoff. Don't count on that happening twice, take the Mavs and the two points. Recommended Stories

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