Game 4: Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Bobcats

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The Orlando Magic look to close out their first round playoff series when they take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night. The Magic have won the first three games of the series and look to sweep a team out of the postseason for the second time in franchise history and for the first time in a seven-game series (the Magic swept the Detroit Pistons 3-0 in the first round of the 1996 playoffs). Tip-off from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. The game can be seen nationally on TNT and locally on Sun Sports.

Basketball Stats

Starters:

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson

Charlotte Bobcats

Theo Ratliff
Boris Diaw
Gerald Wallace
Stephen Jackson
Raymond Felton

The Line: Orlando – 4

The Magic would like to get both Center Dwight Howard and Guard Vince Carter going on offense against the Bobcats Monday night. Both players have struggled, but for different reasons.

Howard has been unable to stay out of foul trouble and has been frustrated by the Bobcats’ interior defense. Howard is averaging just 11.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in just 27.7 minutes per game. When Howard has been able to stay in on the floor, he has been a dominate force. Before Howard fouled out in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s victory, the Magic continuously went to him down the stretch and he was a force on both ends of the court. Howard had eight points, five rebounds and five blocks in the final quarter.

Vince Carter’s series has been the definition of up-and-down. In game 1, Carter shot 4-of-19 from the field. In game 2, he played very well, scoring 19 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists. In game 3, he was 4-of-11 from the field and turned the ball over five times. In game 1, it appeared that Carter was trying to do too much, which many think was the reason for Carter’s struggles earlier in the season. Carter just needs to play under control, be smart with the ball and get to the rim.

Carter and the Magic have also had a turnover problem and that is something they must get cleaned up.

With Orlando’s two leading scorers struggling, it’s been the Jameer Nelson show. The crib midget/Mighty Mouse/Dwight’s Sidekick/MeerCat/CrazyNuts has averaged 25.7 points per game and is shooting an effective field goal percentage of 62.0%, including scoring a career-high tying 32-points in both game 1 and game 3.

Gerald Wallace played excellent basketball in both games 1 and 2 of this series, but really fell off in game 3. Wallace scored just 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting and was virtually invisible during the fourth quarter. If Charlotte wants to have any kind of chance to win a game in this series, they must get Wallace more involved. Stephen Jackson has for the most part, been Stephen Jackson. He’s played solid defense, has scored well (but it’s taken him a lot of shots to do it) and has had turnover issues. Jackson turned it over 12 times in the first two games. He managed to limit himself to just one turnover in game 3, but shot just 6-of-18 from the field. Jackson is shooting 39.2% in the series. Jackson has scored 64 points in the series (20.6 per game), but it’s taken him 56 shots to do it.

Charlotte must get more efficient production from their two best players, but the Magic have made getting efficient shots off quite difficult for the Bobcats. The Magic have done a pretty good job of keeping Charlotte out of the paint (They’ve done an excellent job when Howard is in the game). The Bobcats have turned into a jump-shooting and 3-point shooting team, which are not exactly their strong suits.

The Bobcats are going to come with great energy in an attempt to avoid being swept away in front of their home crowd. If the Magic can weather the storm like they did Saturday, continue to play good defense, protect the ball, and get either Howard or Carter going on offense (or both), they should be able to end this series Monday night.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).