Game Preview: Magic vs Knicks

(John Raoux/AP)

Orlando Magic come home to face the hapless New York Knicks

Magic (37-23) vs Knicks (18-39)
Saturday, March 1st, 2008
Game Tipoff: 7:00pm
TV: Fox Sports (Florida)
Radio: WDBO 580 AM
Line: Magic by 8.5

The Magic return home for their first of two home games as they take on the New York Knicks. This is their third of four meetings with the Knicks, and the Magic won the first two meetings soundly (112-102, 110-96). This is the 73rd meeting between the two teams, and the all time series is tied at 36.

Starting Lineups
Knicks:

PG: Nate Robinson (11.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 77% FT, and 35% 3P).
SG: Jamal Crawford (20.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.9 apg, 87% FT, and 34% 3P).
SF: Quinton Richardson (7.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 65% FT, and 33% 3P).
PF: Zach Randolph (17.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 76% FT, and 46% FG).
C: Eddie Curry (13.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 bpg, and 54% FG).

Magic:
PG: Jameer Nelson (10.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.6 apg, 82% FT, and 36% 3P).
SG: Maurice Evans (7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 36% 3P, and 48% FG).
SF: Hedo Turkoglu (19.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, 84% FT, and 39% 3P).
PF: Rashard Lewis (18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 84% FT, and 40% 3P).
C: Dwight Howard (21.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.4 bpg, and 60% FG).

Key Bench Players:
Knicks:
SG: Fred Jones
SF: Renaldo Balkman
C: David Lee

Magic:
PG: Keyon Dooling
SG: Keith Bogans
PF: Brian Cook


Statistically speaking


The Knicks are 21st in the league in points scored (95.3 ppg.), 24th in field goal percentage (44.06%), 24th in adjusted field goal percentage (48%), 27th in three point shooting (34%), 22nd in free throw percentage (72.67%), 29th in field goal percentage allowed (47.18%), 21st in opponents ppg. (101.1), 15th in opponents three point shooting (36%), 26th in steals (6.3/gm.), 21st in turnovers (14.6/gm.), 30th in blocked shots (2.4/gm.), 17th in rebounding (41.8/gm.), and 30th in assists (18.6/gm.).

Orlando matches up being 6th in scoring (104.1 ppg.), 5th in FG % (46.98%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 6th in three point shooting (38%), 23rd in FT% (72.55%), 13th in FG% allowed (45.12%), 19th in opponents scoring (100.6 ppg.), 20th in opponents three point shooting (36%), 27th in steals (6.2/gm.), 13th in turnovers (14.0/gm.), 24th in blocked shots (4.3/gm.), 14th in rebounding (42.1/gm.), and 24th in assists (20.1/gm.).

What do the stats tell us? The Knicks aren't a very good team, but you could probably tell that by their 18-39 record. New York is especially bad on defense and they have no shot blocking presence. Offensively, New York isn't in the top half of the league in any single category, and they don't do anything especially well.


Best matchup for New York: Jamal Crawford vs. Jameer Nelson- Crawford is a very talented guard, offensively, and he can score against some of the league's tougher defenders, much less Nelson. Crawford will use his six inch height advantage to shoot over Nelson or any other Orlando point guard whenever he wants. Crawford has averaged 21 ppg. against the Magic this year.

Best matchup for Orlando: Rashard Lewis vs. Zach Randolph- Randolph usually isn't especially interested in playing defense, and Lewis' quick first step will exploit him. Lewis has averaged 23 ppg. against the Knicks this year.


Keys To Victory:

Knicks:
1) Hope the starting five can go nearly the full 48, because other than David Lee, there is very little depth on this Knicks team. Against a high powered offensive team like the Magic, the Knicks will need to produce their best offensive output to date. Nate Robinson has been able to put up big numbers against the Magic in the past, as has Jamal Crawford. The Knicks will need to attack from every angle to stay in this game.

2) The Knicks must keep the Magic from dominating the boards, between Curry, Lee, and Randolph, this could be an accomplished goal, but it will take all Curry has to keep Dwight from having a 20/20 night. There may be a mismatch on defense which could allow Randolph to chip in a nice game, and the Magic never seem ready to keep Lee from owning the boards.

3) Play tight perimeter defense. The Magic may be out to close this game off quickly after a disappointing loss to the 76ers on Wednesday night. After having a few days off to rest and get the team ready, Orlando should be properly motivated to take on a bad Knicks team.

4) The Knicks are far out matched in this game and need to find a way to control the tempo and score points.

Magic:
1) Show up for the game. Orlando needs to put forth a better effort than Wednesday night, and not to expect an easy win against a team that should be defeated. If Orlando plays good defense, and keeps the tempo in their favor, the game shouldn't be close.

2) The biggest and best way to keep the Knicks from pulling off an upset is crashing the boards. This needs to be a set motto in this game, fight for every board, and look for fast break transition baskets. Winning the rebound battle should easily get Orlando the victory.

3) If the Magic fail to play defense, which has been known to happen, there will be plenty of opportunities to launch from behind the arc against Thomas' weak defensive sets. The Knicks are slow in switch outs, and even worse in regards to picking up the pick and roll jumper. Open shots should be available, the Magic just have to make them.

4) Make proper subs when needed. If Nelson can't contain Nate Robinson, coach Van Gundy mustn't wait until his team is down by 8 or 10 to insert Dooling. There should be very few mismatches in this game for Orlando, but should one develop, the Magic have the advantage depth wise, use it to keep the game from getting out of hand.


Seth's prediction:
Watching the 76ers game was worse than watching a marathon of Friday The 13th movies. It's not to say they are horrible movies, but they get old real fast! I'm certain the Magic feel the same way and are looking to make an example out of the Knicks. If the Magic can find a victory against a bad New York team, they will have won 5 out of the last 7, and it will puts them back on course. Magic by 13 (108-95).

Charlie's prediction:
The Knicks don't play any defense, and their offense may be worse than their defense. Take the Magic, give the points.

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