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Tonight's Orlando Magic Playoff Game: vs. Charlotte Bobcats

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The Orlando Magic will try to extend their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series lead over the Charlotte Bobcats to 2-0 tonight after Charlotte's Game 1 comeback came up just short. An admittedly shell-shocked Bobcats squad fell behind by 22 points early in the third quarter, but drew to within 4 points in the fourth before Orlando shut the door, however tenuously.

2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Charlotte Bobcats main logo
Orlando Magic main logo
Orlando Leads, 1-0
April 21st, 2010
Amway Arena
5:30 PM
TNT / FSN Florida
Probable Starters
Raymond Felton PG Jameer Nelson
Stephen Jackson SG Vince Carter
Gerald Wallace SF Matt Barnes
Boris Diaw PF Rashard Lewis
Theo Ratliff C Dwight Howard
Season Series:
November 10th: Magic 93, Bobcats 81
November 16th: Magic 97, Bobcats 91
January 23rd: Magic 106, Bobcats 95 (OT)
March 14th: Bobcats 96, Magic 89
Game Officials
Bennett Salvatore
Rodney Mott
Bill Spooner
Series Central

Here's a look at how the Magic and Bobcats fared in the second half of Game 1. Understandably, the Bobcats have reason for optimism.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Bobcats 44 104.9 50.0% 53.3 18.8 20.5
Magic 42 92.2 35.1% 35.1 21.7 11.8
Green denotes a stat better than the team's regular-season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's regular-season average.

The Bobcats' well-documented strategy to attack Magic center Dwight Howard, despite Howard swatting 8 of their shots in the first half, paid off. He picked up 3 fouls to just 1 block in the second, and Charlotte played much better with him on the bench. For the game, the Bobcats scored 94.0 points per 100 possessions with Howard on the court, and 123.53 points per 100 possessions with Marcin Gortat, Howard's backup, filling in. There's no reason to believe the attacking won't continue, so Orlando's perimeter defenders have to do a better job keeping their man out of the lane. That's obviously much easier said than done, given Charlotte's season-long proficiency at getting to the line; Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace draw a ton of fouls for perimeter players. And the Bobcats have the position that they have nothing to lose this postseason, and that all the pressure is on Orlando to continue defending homecourt. I expect nothing but Charlotte's very best effort tonight. I also expect nothing but Orlando's best, either. The Magic understand the stakes, and I don't think they're taking the Bobcats lightly, despite what Charlotte coach Larry Brown wants his charges to believe.

Here's my list of three things Orlando can do tonight to improve its offense.

With these playoff games, I'm taking a different approach to these threads. Since the days off between games offer ample opportunity for analysis and discussion, I'm mostly making these spaces places for you all to comment before and during the game. I urge you to visit Series Central for more comprehensive coverage.