Game Tips at 7:00 p.m. EST
Detroit Pistons: 6-11 (2-7 Road, -4.5 margin)
Orlando Magic: 12-4 (8-2 Home, +6.4 Margin)
Well, the Magic have gotten over their nasty habit of losing to Detroit for no apparent reason. Dwight Howard has averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds per game over the last three matches, and Orlando has won all three.
This year, Howard is carrying his team offensively, as well as defensively. He is averaging a career high 22.6 ppg, with no substantial decline in efficiency.
As usual, the Magic has surrounded him with outstanding three point shooters. Orlando is shooting 37% from behind the arc, but that factors in J.J. Redick's woeful 3-25 start.
It's a pretty simple equation. Dwight takes the defense away from the perimeter, the perimeter guys make the defense pay. Half the teams shots come from Howard or from three point range. On defense, the Magic are best of breed, as an underrated cast of perimeter defenders do a nice job of introducing dribble penetrators to Mr. Howard.
Keys to the Game:
Lock down the perimeter: Is it odd that a key to the game is simply playing into a team's strength? I don't care.
Get physical with Dwight: Hard fouls and forced turnovers won't stop him, but they will limit his efficiency. I can tolerate a 9-16 night from the line.
Get Gordon involved: I won't pretend to understand what is going on with everyone's minutes, but it remains ridiculous that Detroit's best scorer doesn't get the ball.
Question of the Game:
Can the Pistons reclaim the, erm, Magic? Probably not. Can they hold Howard to under 40 and 20?