San Antonio Spurs @ Orlando Magic

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The Orlando Magic will look to bounce back from a poor effort on Sunday night in a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats when they take on the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.Sunday’s loss snapped Orlando’s eight-game winning streak. The Spurs are coming off an 88-76 win in Miami over the Heat on Tuesday night. The Spurs may have lost Tony Parker to a broken right hand, but they have won four straight games and eight of their past nine.

Basketball Stats

This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

Parker, the 2007 Finals MVP and three-time All-Star, is expected to miss at least the remainder of the regular season.

The Spurs, a perennial title contender, are 40-25 this season, which is tied for sixth in the very compeitive Western Conference. If the postseason were to start today, the Spurs would be matched up with the Denver Nuggets. San Antonio is 16-15 away from home whil the Magic are 27-7 at Amway Arena.

Tip-off from the Am is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST and the game will be shown locally by Sun Sports and nationally on ESPN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

The Line: Orlando – 7.5

Starters:

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson

San Antonio Spurs

Antonio McDyess
Tim Duncan
Richard Jefferson
Man Ginobli
George Hill

The San Antonio Spurs have good balance. They are both eighth in offensive rating (109.9) and defensive rating (104.5).

The Spurs offense scores 100.8 points per game and is once again led by Tim Duncan. Duncan, a 12-time All-Star, two-time league MVP and three-time Finals MVP, is scoring 18.7 points per game on 51.3% shooting. Duncan is also grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game and blocking 1.64 shots per game. Although Duncan is now 33 years old and he has put up better numbers in the past, he is still an excellent player and provides plenty of problems for his opponents on both sides of the court.

32-year old Manu Ginobli’s numbers are also down, but he has played much better over the past two months. Ginobli, who is averaging 14.7 points per game on 42.4% shooting on the season, averaged 18.5 points per game on 45.1% in February and 19.3 points per game on 53.5% shooting in March. It’s no coincidence that the Spurs are 7-1 this month.

The return of Matt Barnes should help the Magic slow Ginobli.

The Spurs had high hopes when they acquired Richard Jefferson before the season but he is averaging just 11.9 points per game, his lowest average since his rookie season. Jefferson has averaged 17.1 points per game in his career and scored 19.6 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks just last season. Obviouly, Jefferson has a better supporting cast in San Antonio and his usage rate, as expected, is lower, but Jefferson’s season still must be considered a disappointment.

The Spurs, unsurprsingly play at one of the slowest (24th) paces in the league (93.8). Orlando doesn’t race up and down the court, but their pace is faster than San Antonio’s (94.7).

The Spurs, who are traditionally a very good defensive team, give up just 95.7 points per game.

George Hill replaces Parker in the lineup. This should make life easier for Orlando’s point guards on both ends of the floor.

The Spurs are an older, slower team nd although they have an excellent, promising rookie in DeJuan Blair, who most consider the steal of the draft, coming off the bench, the Magic should be able to wear the Spurs down. San Antonio will be on the second night of a back-to-back and Orlando hasn’t played since Sunday. That, combined with the probable return of Matt Barnes and their already superior depth means that as long as the Magic show up and play hard, they should win the game.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).