Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Records: Los Angeles- 21-41, 12th place in the Western Conference; Orlando- 41-24, 3rd place in the Eastern Conference
Los Angeles on the road- 9-19; Orlando at home- 22-12
The Magic return to the Amway Arena for the third consecutive game as they take on the L.A. Clippers. This is the second and final meeting between the two teams with Orlando taking the first in tinseltown, 113-106. The Magic lead the all time series 20-17.
The Clippers are an athletic team that is led by former Magic forward Corey Maggette, who averages 22.1 points per game. L.A. is one of the few teams in the NBA with a true center, as the 7'0" Chris Kaman scored better than 13 ppg., grabs 13.1 rebounds, and blocks nearly 3 shots per contest. The Clippers have former Magic sharpshooting guard Cuttino Mobley. The left-handed Mobley can score in bunches, and averages nearly 13 ppg., while shooting better than 38% from behind the three-point line. L.A.'s starting lineup is rounded out with athletic forward Tim Thomas and point guard Brevin Knight.
Los Angeles has talent off the bench, as they bring former Florida State star forward Al Thornton, who averages nearly 12 ppg. and 4.2 rebounds in just 24.8 minutes. Guard Quentin Ross is one of the league's best on ball defenders, and Aaron Williams is a more than serviceable big body at center.
The Clippers are 27th in the league in points scored (93.9 ppg.), 28th in field goal percentage (43.69%), 29th in adjusted field goal percentage (46%), 29th in three point shooting (33%), 6th in free throw percentage (79.01%), 23rd in field goal percentage allowed (46.33%), 15th in opponents ppg. (99.6), 8th in opponents three point shooting (35%), 20th in steals (7.0/gm.), 12th turnovers (13.8/gm.), 14th in blocked shots (4.9/gm.), 29th in rebounding (40.1/gm.), and 15th in assists (21.3/gm.).
Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.7 ppg.), 5th FG % (47.37%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 5th three point shooting (38%), 23rd FT% (72.54%), 9th FG% allowed (44.95%), 17th opponents scoring (100.3 ppg.), 17th opponents three point shooting (37%), 26th steals (6.2/gm.), 16th turnovers (14.0/gm.), 25th in blocked shots (4.2/gm.), 13th in rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 24th in assists (20.2/gm.).
What do the stats tell us? The Clippers struggle in all aspects of their offense, and don't rebound well. That combination attributes to their record being 20 games under .500.
Best matchup for Los Angeles: Cuttino Mobley vs. Maurice Evans- Cuttino Mobley is a streak shooter who loves to come off screens and fire. Evans occasionally gets a little lazy when chasing mobile offensive players. Mobley scored 16 points against the Magic in the first meeting.
Best matchup for Orlando: Rashard Lewis vs. Tim Thomas- Tim Thomas is not known as a great defender, and Lewis has a similar skill set as Thomas offensively. Rashard should be able to drive past Thomas with relative ease. Lewis scored 20 points against the Clippers in the last meeting.
Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Take care of the basketball. The Clippers have a difficult time scoring in the halfcourt, and it's not likely that they can score enough points on their own to win if they don't get easy transition opportunities off turnovers.
2. Hit the glass. Los Angeles is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. Orlando needs to hit the glass with four players on each end.
3. Another quick start. The Magic have been playing well in the first period of late, and if that trend continues, the Clippers could quickly give up like Atlanta did Monday night.
Final thoughts: This is a game that the Magic need to win. The Clippers don't have the horses to keep up on either end, and Orlando should coast.
For our gamblers out there: Take Orlando, give the points.