Lack of Face Time between the Orlando Magic's Best Unit and the Charlotte Bobcats' Best Unit Complicates Analysis of Pending Playoff Series

Yesterday, I wrote about the difficulty of predicting the Orlando Magic/Charlotte Bobcats playoff series due to neither team really being at 100% during their head-to-head meetings this season. That line of thought got me to wondering about how the Magic's starters fared against the Bobcats' starters, albeit in limited minutes.

BasketballValue.com has these statistics readily available. They bode well for Orlando, as the Magic's starting lineup of Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard stymied Charlotte in a little over 27 minutes this season. The offense was horrid, scoring just 54 points in 53 possessions. But the D? That's where Orlando excelled, limiting Charlotte to 36 points in 53 possessions with that lineup.

That the Magic's starters dominated isn't really a surprise. John Schuhmann of NBA.com consulted StatsCube and found that "[t]he Magic starters are the best starting unit in the East, both offensively and defensively," scoring 113.3 points per 100 possessions while allowing just 95.0.

But there's a bit of a catch here. The Bobcats' best lineup, according to Schuhmann, features Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, and Tyson Chandler. That fivesome has spent a grand total of 9:30 on the court against the Magic this season, and that was in November, and it came against a Magic lineup featuring Mickael Pietrus instead of Barnes at small forward.

What I'm getting at is that, for all the things we do know about these teams' tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, there's not a helluva lot we know about how that's going to play out on the court. Four games between the teams this season, sure, but not a lot of history we can bank on when it comes to predicting the outcome of this series. We'll know more this Sunday. Pay special attention to how Orlando's starters fare against the Felton/Jackson/Wallace/Diaw/Chandler group, since those lineups figure to share the court plenty this postseason.

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