Howard's inside presence critical against Cavs, LeBron
John Schuhmann of NBA.com looks at the Orlando Magic's recent history against the Cleveland Cavaliers to see how Dwight Howard's presence impacts Cleveland's offense, and LeBron James specifically.
When Howard is on the bench, James simply destroys the Magic. Note that the numbers above are per-36 minutes, but James has averaged 42.3 minutes in the 16 games. So his no-Howard numbers translate to 41.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.7 assists per contest.
When Howard's on the floor, James' numbers are still strong, but there is a clear drop-off, especially in the scoring department. James' shooting percentage isn't down much, but he's getting fewer shots and making much fewer trips to the line.
There's much more at the link, and the read is well worth your time.
Howard's defense the key in Cavaliers/Magic matchup
John Krolik of ProBasketballTalk responds to Schuhmann's analysis.
The Cavs were able to win their first two meetings against the Magic this season. In both of those games, Howard's minutes were limited due to foul trouble. If the teams meet in the playoffs, when more physical play is sometimes allowed, the Cavs may struggle to deal with Howard's defense over the course of a full game.
NBA free agency: Who might be available in 2010?
Chad Ford's look at the 2010 free-agent landscape for ESPN includes this bit on Magic reserve guard J.J. Redick, who'll become a restricted free agent on July 1st.
Redick hasn't made a big splash in the league, but some around the league say that's partly due to playing time. With more opportunities this season, his numbers have improved, and he's shown he can be an efficient marksman off the bench.
Some Teams Live and Die by the 3 More Than Others
Zach Lowe of Off the Dribble, the New York Times' NBA blog, looks at which teams in the league can win without making a ton of threes.
NBA HD: Are Rookies Better Finishers in Sophomore Year?
In this post about sophomores improving their finishing ability at the rim, Tom Haberstroh notes that Magic backup forward Ryan Anderson has improved 13.4%, making 57.3% of his shots at the rim as a result. It's enough to put him in a tie with Suns reserve point guard Goran Dragic for the second-biggest improvement on record.
Dwight Howard just needs his team to follow
Brian Schmitz writes that "this Magic team can make a repeat run to the Finals," but only if complementary players like Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis follow his lead. He also believes the Magic "lack a killer instinct" and "have to play better defense."
This Sunday at 10 PM, Sun Sports will air "Inside the Magic: the Science of Scouting." Whit Watson will host the program, which will focus on "how the Magic video coordination team enables Orlando to prepare for games in the fast and furious pace of the NBA." Click here for a video preview.