Sunday, February 24th, 2008
Records: Sacramento- 26-28, 4th place in the Pacific division; Orlando- 35-22, 1st place in the Southeast division. Sacramento on the road- 9-18; Orlando at home- 15-11
Line: Magic by 6
The Magic play their second consecutive home game as they take on the young, talented Sacramento Kings. This is the second and final meeting between the two clubs, with the first meeting going to Sacramento, 104-100 back in January. The Kings hold a 22-16 lead in the all time series.
Sacramento is led by underrated shooting guard Kevin Martin, who leads the team with 23.3 ppg., while shooting nearly 45% from the field. The Kings managed to hold onto small forward Ron Artest, who can both fill up the stat sheet and play defense. Artest averages 19.4 ppg., nearly 6 rebounds, nearly 4 assists, and over two steals per game. In the middle, the Kings have Brad Miller, who can rebound and shoot from the outside. Miller averages 14.4 ppg. and 9.7 rebounds. With longtime point guard Mike Bibby recently departed to Atlanta, the Kings start Beno Udrih at point, and the active, yet underrated Mikki Moore at the power forward spot.
The Kings depth includes veteran point guards Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue, as well as guard/small forwards John Salmons and Francisco Garcia, along with Kenny Thomas and Lorenzen Wright.
The Kings rank 8th in the league in points scored (100.6 ppg.), 14th in field goal percentage (45.55%), 12th in adjusted FG% (50%), 7th in three point shooting (38%), 5th in free throw percentage (79.2%), 23rd in field goal percentage allowed (46.13%), 24th in opponents ppg. (102.2), 24th in opponents three point shooting (37%), 7th in steals (8.1/gm.), 28th in blocked shots (3.9/gm.), 28th in turnovers (15.5/gm.), 28th in rebounding (40.1/gm.), and 29th in assists (18.9/gm.).
Here's how Orlando matches up: 6th scoring (104.1 ppg.), 5th FG % (46.91%), 2nd in adjusted FG% (53%), 9th three point shooting (37%), 23rd FT% (72.69%), 14th FG% allowed (45.2%), 21st opponents scoring (100.9 ppg.), 20th opponents three point shooting (37%), 27th steals (6.2/gm.), 23rd in blocked shots (4.3/gm.), 13th turnovers (14.2/gm.), 12th rebounding (42.2/gm.), and 23rd in assists (20.0/gm.).
Best matchup for Sacramento: Kevin Martin vs. Maurice Evans- Martin is a fabulous offensive player that runs the baseline well and uses screens to his advantage. More than occasionally, Evans gets a little lazy when chasing, and that type of non-activity will lead to a lot of open shots for Martin. Martin can also take Evans off the dribble effectively. Martin didn't play in the first meeting between these two teams, but averaged 18 points in two meetings against Orlando last year.
Best matchup for Orlando: Dwight Howard vs. Brad Miller- Miller's game is finesse, and his outside shot could give Howard fits on the offensive end, but Miller will get overpowered down low against Howard. Sacramento will have to send double and triple teams at Dwight to keep him from having a huge night. Howard scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the first meeting between these two teams, and has averaged a double-double over the last two years against the Kings.
Keys to a Magic victory:
1. Pound the glass. The Kings don't rebound well, and they don't have much of an inside presence. The Magic need to send three or four guys to the offensive glass.Final thoughts: The Magic were sloppy in the first half against Philadelphia, but then took care of business and coasted against a team that was void of offensive talent. Orlando must buckle down and play defense, and exploit their major advantage in the paint.
2. Attack the rim. The Kings don't play good defense inside the paint, and they don't have a great shot blocker. The Magic must continually attack the basket and play inside out instead of outside in against a team that's ranked 28th in blocked shots.
3. Guard the arc. Sacramento is a completely different team than the group that Orlando dominated Friday night (Philadelphia). The Kings can stroke it from the outside, and the Magic need to force Sacramento to put the ball on the floor.
For our gamblers out there: I think Orlando will salvage a split against the Kings, but it won't come easy. Take Sacramento and the points.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of MagicIllustrated.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
For more, go to: MagicIllustrated.com