Second Thoughts: Bobcats-Magic Game 2

First Half
-I cannot believe we got all the way through “We Will Rock You” before the opening tip. The one thing the Amway Center better be able to duplicate is the noise and intensity you can get with Amway Arena. I think Amway Arena can be one of the loudest arenas in the league simply because it is constructed with the crowd pretty close in. The Playoffs the last two years have reminded everyone what the O-Rena used to be like.

-Orlando’s first four possessions, three went straight to Dwight Howard in the post. Results: turnover on pass to the post, assist to cutting Matt Barnes for a lay up and hook shot for Howard. Charlotte is going to play good defense and make things difficult for Orlando’s offense. But if Howard shows the patience he showed in the first three possessions of the game (he did not get the ball because of a deflected pass on the first one), Howard can still be a strong offensive force in this series. He does not need to score to be effective.

-Having said that, Howard has to limit his turnovers. The Bobcats are going to swarm him like they were early in the game and try to close his passing lanes. He almost has to know what he is doing before he gets the ball and move pretty quickly before the double comes. Charlotte is not doubling immediately and are mixing up coverages a lot so it is easier said than done.

-I have to say for such a low scoring first quarter, not a lot is being forced. Charlotte has had some bad bounces and missed some make-able, but tough, shots. The big thing, and we knew this heading in, is the Bobcats turning the ball over so much. They have to take care of the ball better, they will not survive another 21-turnover game.

-Still giving up only three points in the first eight minutes of the game is really impressive and Orlando’s defense had some to do with it — it is not like Charlotte was missing layups. A key difference was the Magic were getting deflections and were active in the passing lanes, something they usually do not do. Orlando does not get a ton of steals. this was a good adjustment by Stan Van Gundy. The Bobcats are a team that relies on ball movement, perimeter rotation and cutting to generate points. They can’t win one on one and that is what Orlando made Charlotte do in the first quarter.

-I have to say, Gerald Wallace just Dwight Howard’ed Dwight Howard late in the first quarter. Wallace rose and blocked a shot just at the moment before it would be goaltending.

-But for all the good defense in the first quarter, Charlotte kept the game pretty tight. Orlando did not help itself with some turnovers itself and some struggles to get to the line and hit shots. The Bobcats played pretty good defense and I think the Magic played a little outside themselves by forcing the ball to Howard so much. Not that it was a bad thing, but the lead definitely could have and should have been much larger after that defensive effort.

-Orlando needs to dunk the ball more on transition. This has always been something that has bothered me with this team. Gerald Wallace would have had two less blocks if Mickael Pietrus and Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter would just go to the rim thinking, “I am going to dunk on you or you will foul me.”

-The Magic are doing a much better job getting a body on Gerald Wallace and keeping him off the glass. Orlando is sometimes criticized for standing around and waiting for Dwight Howard to collect every rebound. But tonight it seems like they are getting a body on guys. Sometimes Howard forgets to box out and tries to out athlete everyone to the ball. But he generally does his job. As long as everyone else is, Orlando is fine rebounding.

-Here is a thought about how to handle Dwight Howard’s foul issues. For a while now, Howard has been playing deep into the second quarter. Clearly the Magic are a better team with Howard on the floor, but they need him in the second half more. In the first two games, he did not play much of the second half. So why not pull Howard back in the first half? Why not take him out after the first quarter and have Marcin Gortat play the first four or five minutes of the second quarter? If Howard has one foul, this protects him more and makes it more difficult for him to pick up two tic-tack fouls before the end of the quarter. This is also the typical rotation Van Gundy uses early in the season.

-After starting five for six, Orlando went two for its next 15. Why? Perimeter shooting had a lot to do with it. The Magic were settling for jumpers and not getting the ball inside much to Dwight Howard. When they did drive, they got to the line. They did this often enough to maintain their lead pretty easily. How did they break this stretch? JJ Redick drove in and made a nice wrap around pass to Marcin Gortat for a dunk.

-Orlando’s defense when it is in sync and rotating is just beautiful to watch. This team is actually a good defensive team with a great scheme and great teamwork.

-Despite Marcin Gortat missing a dunk off a nifty pass from Jason Williams, he played much better in Wednesday’s game than in Game One on Sunday. Gortat did not provide his usual jolt of defensive energy and was taken advantage of in Sunday’s game. But he was much more active in Game Two with a nice block right when he got in the game and many more challenge. He is not going to be the presence Dwight Howard is, but he has to at least change shots and make drivers think, especially in this series.

-Way too many fouls are being called in this series. I am not complaining about the officiating, but both teams need to stop fouling so much. It is ruining the rhythm of these games and throwing off the offenses. The referees need to let the players play a little bit more. Please don’t fine me David Stern.

-Double take with 2:45 left… Rashard Lewis drove down the middle for a layup with no contest.

-Wonder why TNT never shows William Wesley sitting next to Michael Jordan. And why in the world did Wesley decide to attend the first two games of Magic vs. Bobcats? I guess he could be good friends with Jordan, but aren’t there whatever he does to do at more marquee matchups?

-Two minutes to go and D.J. Augustin just hit a three to pull Charlotte within seven at 37-30 (note: Charlotte does not score the rest of the way). Key to Augustin’s three? A nice flare screen by Boris Diaw. This is what the Bobcats have to do to keep up with the Magic and break their defense. Orlando did a great job scrambling and chasing Charlotte off shots. Stephen Graham got the ball in the corner and Vince Carter forced him to pass. JJ Redick would have been able to close out on Augustin had Diaw not been there. You have to be thinking one step ahead and truly playing as a team to find holes in these defenses.

-I would tell Orlando to stop settling for jumpers, but that is a large part of the team’s game and Charlotte is forcing difficult interior shots. Good defense.

Second Half
-Not sure if Charlotte did not attack the basket as hard or if Orlando played better perimeter defense, but I will continue to harp on the fact the Magic must force the Bobcats to settle for jumpers. The Magic did a much better job swarming anyone who got in the paint and forcing them to make a difficult play or kick out.

-TNT pointed this out during the broadcast and it is pretty clear this is how Charlotte will defend him, Dwight Howard draws the attention of all five players whenever he gets the ball in the post. Every player sinks in to make Howard’s pass or move more difficult. Very dangerous strategy against a good shooting team like Orlando, but it paid off since the team could not hit much from the floor tonight.

-It really is too bad Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter. He scored the first nine points of the second half for the Magic and he looked like he was getting angry and ready to completely take over the game.

-Charlotte at times did not look ready to face a road playoff crowd. I am sure being home will re-energize them.

-I do not like saying referees affect the game in any tangible way, but some of the fouls they call on Dwight Howard just do not exist. He made a pretty clean block on Gerald Wallace for his fourth foul with 6:29 to play in the third. Sure their was a mid-air collision, but Howard got ball first and sent the ball and Wallace to the ground. Hard playoff play, but no foul. Howard does get treated differently than every other superstar, it is a little ridiculous.

-Vince Carter is really good when he attacks the basket. No clue why he ever settles for jumpers.

-Here is something someone pointed out to me today. Orlando scored 75 points in the third quarter. Charlotte ended the game with 77. Just think about that stat. And then think about this: the Magic were still on pace for 100 points even after struggling offensively through three quarter. Next thing to think about: Orlando had eight points in the final two minutes. When it rains, it pours.

-Charlotte started using a very small lineup in the fourth quarter that featured Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw as the four and the five. Orlando elected to keep Marcin Gortat in to counter and it really did not do much. Although it did hold its own offensively and Charlotte got some opportunities to attack with Gortat protecting the rim. Might be interesting to see if Larry Brown goes back to this lineup and spread the floor more — especially if Dwight Howard is in the game still. Also key to note, Brown went immediately to Tyson Chandler once Howard came back into the game.

-I wrote this in my recap last night, but Vince Carter really became a great playmaker in the fourth quarter. He set this up by attacking the basket and getting to the line in the third quarter. He really forced the defense to swarm him (like they swarmed Dwight Howard) and that opened things up for everyone else. Carter is going to have to continue playing this aggressively and assertively for the Magic to win the title.

-Charlotte still makes its opponents make difficult plays offensively. It does not matter how good or efficient you are offensively, the Bobcats will swarm you and make you uncomfortable.

-Charlotte is actually a really good passing team. The Bobcats did a good job when they could of drawing Dwight Howard out and slipping a pass to his man, whom he left wide open.

-Too bad Matt Barnes did not convert that layup after Vince Carter dove on the floor to save the ball from going out of bounds. Tell me you were not surprised Carter sacrificed his body like that.

-Orlando’s offense did its fair share of disappearing in this game too. Lots of settling for jumpers and losing the ball on semi-out-of-control drives. Slowly the Bobcats started to wear down the Magic’s defense and get in the paint and that is how they cut into the lead and brought it back to single digits. Luckily Orlando knows how to make some big plays and always had an answer for any of Charlotte’s threats.

-Ryan Anderson ended the first half with a three from the right corner… he ended the second half with a three from the right corner.

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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