The 2012 incarnation of the Orlando Magic is certainly not the 2010 version that bludgeoned the Atlanta Hawks in the postseason or even the 2011 team that the Hawks upset in which Orlando’s normally lethal three point shooters went inexplicably cold. Most will point to the strategy of putting Jason Collins on Dwight Howard to defend him one-on-one, leaving newly acquired Kirk Hinrich and the other wing defenders to cool off the Magic outside threats.
However, the aftermath of the Dwightmare left Orlando fans seeing Dwight in purple and yellow as opposed to blue and white, with only some first and second year players and a selection of draft picks to show for it. Returning to the blue pinstripes from last year are JJ Redick, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson. Every other major rotation player was either recently drafted or brought in from the 4 team, mega deal involving Howard.
The Magic came into the 2012-13 season with a promising start, winning their first two games of the season, but have dropped six of the last seven since. Arron Afflalo has lead the way in scoring, followed closely by JJ Redick. JJ also owns a .394 3P% and the highest PER on the team of qualified players. Big Baby has asserted himself as a force on the boards, grabbing almost 9 rebounds a game, almost 3 offensive, in 32.4 minutes per game.
However the cupboard is rather bare beyond those three. E’Twaun Moore and Nikola Vucevic are making the most of their respective 30+ minutes per game and Josh McRoberts has recovered from a shaky stint in Los Angeles. Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn are forwards that are still trying to find their footing in the National Basketball Association.
As a result, the team is 26th in offensive efficiency and 25th in efficiency differential.
The Magic are formerly known as a prolific three point shooting team, leading the league in 3 pointers attempted per total field goals attempted the last 5 years. But with the departure of Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, and Stan Van Gundy, they are 29th in three pointers attempted per total field goals thus far, with 16.9% of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc. That mark is about half of last year’s output (34.9%) for comparison. This is despite a respectable 37.5% 3P% to rank 8th in the league, mostly buoyed by Redick, Afflalo and E’Twaun Moore, the second year small forward out of Purdue.
The Atlanta Hawks come back to Philips Arena after a long roadtrip to the West Coast, having salvaged a 2-2 record. They face an overmatched opponent like they did in Sacramento on Friday and frankly should have no problem putting them away.
Hedo Turkoglu had surgery on his broken left hand and Al Harrington had surgery on an infected left knee. Neither will play in the game on Monday.
None of Orlando’s host of forwards should be able to guard Josh Smith, unless he guards himself by putting up 18 foot jumpers, or Al Horford. Jeff Teague should be able to use his speed to blow by the declining Jameer Nelson, the Atlanta home crowd should see an exciting run-and-gun path to victory.
*All stats per Hoopdata.com