Game Preview: Magic vs Nuggets

Denver comes to town, right before the All-Star Break.

Denver Nuggets vs. Orlando Magic

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Records: Denver-32-19, second place in the Northwest division; Orlando- 32-21, 1st place in the Southeast division. Denver on the road- 11-13; Orlando at home- 13-11

Line: Magic by 4

The Magic play the final game of their five game home stand against the Denver Nuggets, and also the final game for both teams before the All-Star break. This is the second and final meeting between the two clubs, with the first meeting going to Denver, 113-103 back in January. The Magic hold a commanding 25-13 lead in the all time series.

Denver is lead by the highest scoring duo in the NBA in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, who average 26.9 and 26.2 points per game respectively. Both Iverson and Anthony can score from anywhere, and Iverson is one of the best players in the history of the game at his combo guard position. Despite all the scoring that both Iverson and Anthony do, the MVP of the Nuggets may be center Marcus Camby. Camby is one of the league's best rebounders and shot blockers, and can dominate a game without having any plays run for him offensively. Rounding out the Nuggets starting lineup is the often injured, but talented forward Kenyon Martin, as well as journeyman point guard Anthony Carter.

The Nuggets depth includes the high flying J.R. Smith, former Magic point guard Chucky Atkins, dirty-work extrodinaire Eduardo Najera, and three-point specialist and all-around scorer Linas Kleiza.

Statistically speaking
The Nuggets have some of the NBA's most talented offensive players, and they rank fourth in the league in points scored (106.7 ppg.). Denver is 15th in field goal percentage (45.33%), 21st in three point shooting (34%), 13th in free throw percentage (76.07%), 16th in adjusted FG% (49%), 6th in field goal percentage allowed (44.49%), 25th in opponents ppg. (103.6), 19th in opponents three point shooting (36%), 1st in steals (9.3/gm.), 2nd in blocked shots (7.0/gm.), 27th in turnovers (15.2/gm.), 2nd in rebounding (45.0/gm.), and 3rd in assists (23.7/gm.).

Here's how Orlando matches up:
6th scoring (103.9 ppg.), 5th FG % (46.9%), 10th three point shooting (37%), 22nd FT% (72.74%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 11th FG% allowed (45.1%), 21st opponents scoring (100.8 ppg.), 22nd opponents three point shooting (36%), 26th steals (6.3/gm.), 21st in blocked shots (4.4/gm.), 14th turnovers (14.2/gm.), 13th rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 21st in assists (20.2/gm.).

Best matchup for Denver:
Allen Iverson vs. Jameer Nelson- The player that Nelson grew up idolizing in Philadelphia is probably the toughest matchup in the NBA for him. Iverson can drive to the basket on anyone, and score from virtually anywhere inside of 25'. If Nelson can keep Iverson from going off (scoring 25 or more), he will have done his job. Iverson scored 21 points and dished out 13 assists in the first meeting between these two clubs.

Best matchup for Orlando:
Rashard Lewis vs. Kenyon Martin- Kenyon Martin is a natural shot blocker who will get sucked down in the paint from time to time. Lewis's quick release should get him some open shots from the outside, and Rashard is quick enough to take Martin off the dribble.

Keys to a Magic victory:
    1. Leave it all on the floor. This is the final game before the All-Star break and the Magic have five days off. Come out with energy and bring energy all the way through on both ends of the court. Denver is on the final game of a three game road trip and the Magic catch them on the second half of a back to back.

    2. Challenge the shot blockers. Marcus Camby is one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and Kenyon Martin is a great shot blocker in his own right. If the Magic get soft down around the basket they will be playing into the Nuggets hands. Challenge the hoop and keep challenging it. They will get their fair share of blocks, but they won't get all of them.

    3. Guard the three-point line. Denver has great three-point shooters and Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson generally suck in the defense with post ups and penetration and then kick out. The Magic have to be quick to rotate or else they'll give up a bunch of points from behind the arc.

Final thoughts:
This is a big game for Orlando, it could be the difference between a disastrous 1-4 home stand and a just disappointing 2-3 home stand. They need to come out and run the ball as much as possible against a tired Denver team that's been on the road and played less than 24 hours ago.

For our gamblers out there:
I'm 2-4 in my last six games against the spread so take my advice accordingly. Orlando hasn't played good defense in quite a while, Denver has great offensive weapons. Take the visiting Nuggets and the points.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of MagicIllustrated.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.


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