The Orlando Magic can improve upon their Eastern Conference-best record this evening with a victory over the struggling Detroit Pistons at Amway Center. Orlando has won seven of its last eight games, and three in a row with Vince Carter out of the lineup, though he'll return tonight without any limits on playing time. Detroit, meanwhile, stands at just 6-11 and is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the worst record in the Central Division.
Detroit does two things well: take care of the ball and shoot the three-pointer. It ranks second in the league in turnover rate and fourth in three-point shooting percentage, connecting on 40.2 percent of its offerings from beyond the arc. But the Pistons don't take many three-pointers; they're selective, but effective, from that distance. Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, and Austin Daye are the only Pistons to average more than 2 three-point tries per game, but none shoots worse than 37.8 percent, which means the Magic must be vigilant when it comes to sticking to those four along the perimeter.
But defending those shooters shouldn't be too difficult for Orlando, which need not account for any interior offensive presence simply because the Pistons don't have one. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has preached the importance of being able to defend the post and contest jump-shot attempts, and at times this season Orlando has struggled against opponents who require it to do both. No big man in Detroit's rotation is a threat to score effectively inside. Point guard Rodney Stuckey, though, can get to the rim from just about anywhere, so the Magic must work to contain his dribble-penetration and turn him into a jump-shooter. Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon need to keep Stuckey in front of them when they draw that assignment, as putting the team in a situation where it has to help off a Pistons shooter to stop Stuckey is just what Detroit wants.
Former Magic superstar Tracy McGrady joined the Pistons this summer as a free agent. Seven years after leading the league in scoring, at 28 points per game, in his final season in Orlando, he's scoring 4.3 per game off Detroit's bench. He insists he can play several more seasons.
Tipoff is slated for 7 PM. The Magic would certainly like to finish this one off early, as they're due to visit the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night in what figures to be a much tougher test.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|6-11 (2-7 road) |
|12-4 (8-2 home) |
|November 30th, 2010|
|Rodney Stuckey||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Richard Hamilton||SG||Vince Carter|
|Tayshaun Prince||SF||Quentin Richardson|
|Jason Maxiell||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Ben Wallace||C||Dwight Howard|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|89.5 (28th)||Pace||92.2 (17th)|
|105.4 (20th)||ORtg||107.5 (13th)|
|110.2 (25th)||DRtg||100.5 (1st)|