Examining Dwight Howard’s offensive, defensive performance in Game 6

dwight Photo by Andy Jacobsohn/OMD Coming off Dwight Howard’s controversial comments on his lack of attention on offense, the Orlando Magic looked to get the big guy the ball in Thursday night’s 83-75 victory over the Celtics. Howard touched the ball more than he has all series – and created a lot of his own touches with 10 offensive rebounds – putting together his biggest game of the series. He scored the first eight points for Orlando, and he continued to touch the ball throughout the contest. Here’s a look at Howard’s touches throughout the series. Dwight Howard’s touches in the paint Game 1: 24 touches, 16 points Game 2: 20 touches, 12 points Game 3: 18 touches, 17 points Game 4: 20 touches, 23 points Game 5: 17 touches, 12 points Game 6: 34 touches, 23 points Clearly, Game 4 was his most efficient game, averaging more than a point per touch. In Game 6, a good chunk of his points came off offensive rebounds, and that’s the way it should be. As a first option in the post, Howard isn’t dominant (or the least bit efficient) yet – at least not against elite defensive teams like Boston. But when he’s working on the boards, cleaning up messes, picking up his teammates – that’s when the Magic are at their best. At the same time, though, Howard in the post is a stable offensive weapon that is always there in the half-court game. When the offense is struggling, a throw into Howard for a quick jump hook isn’t the worst thing in the world. The key is for Howard not to force anything. When he hasn’t gotten the ball in a while, it seems like he pushes to get a shot, even if it’s not there. We’ve seen it happen a couple times on ugly hook shots that were either blocked by Perkins or missed the rim all-together. Part of this problem can be solved by making Howard feel like he’s part of the offense – and part of the problem is that Howard’s post-moves are still pretty average. Shifting gears, Howard is getting a lot of positive feedback for his defensive showing in Game 6, but is that a bit overblown? Here’s how the Celtics shot when challenging Howard: Celtics when guarded by Dwight Howard in Game 6 Pierce: 3-4, 6 points, 0 blocks Perkins: 4-7, 8 points, 1 block Davis: 2-3, 4 points, 1 block Rondo: 3-5, 6 points, 1 block Allen: 0-1, 0 point, 0 blocks The Celtics clearly made a concerted effort to attack Howard. Perkins’ 4-for-7 is a bit misleading because many of those points came when Howard was helping out on another defender. But Pierce, Rondo and Davis had some success going right at Howard and trying to draw fouls. Overall, though, the Celtics were kept out of the paint – and that was good news for Orlando, which got inspired defensive play from the perimeter defenders. The Celtics made 17 of 49 outside shots, a showing the Magic will take every time out. We’ve seen what Howard can do when he plays the best he can. The Magic are going to need that in Game 7. “Game 7 will all come down to energy and effort,” Howard said. “Who goes out there and plays the hardest for 48 minutes. And we’re realizing that as a team that’s what we have to do in order to win.” Credit ESPN Stats and Information for the research. UPDATE: Check out this video at Seven Seconds or Mess, examining Howard’s offensive game. It’s well put together and offers some brutally honest opinion on Howard. While some of the conclusions are a bit unfair (for instance, SSOM slams Howard’s post game, but Howard has absolutely dominated in the post at times this season. Perkins defends Howard better than anyone except Yao Ming) but it’s very good.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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