Matchup Preview: Orlando Magic vs Brooklyn Nets


Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to find out a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. We conclude the Atlantic Division with a look at the Brooklyn Nets. Matthew Hochberg of Dime Magazine joins us to discuss them. You can find Matthew on twitter @MatthewHochberg

Game Dates 

Sunday, November 9th @ Brooklyn 

Friday, January 2nd @ Orlando 

Wednesday, April 15th @ Brooklyn 

Last Season: 44-38; Finished Sixth in Eastern Conference; Lost in Second Round to Miami 

November 3rd: Orlando 107 Brooklyn 86 

January 21st: Brooklyn 101 Orlando 90

April 11th: Orlando 115 Brooklyn 111 

April 13th: Brooklyn 97 Orlando 88 

Projected Starters

Point Guard: Deron Williams 

Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson (Ed Note: Seven-Time All-Star Joe Johnson to you) 

Small Forward: Andrei Kirilenko 

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

Center: Brook Lopez 

Apr 9, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mason Plumlee (1) dunks against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Q: We saw him play for team USA this summer, and was impressive in the second half of last season. What’s the next step for Mason Plumlee?

A: In just one summer, Mason Plumlee played in the Summer League, participated on the USA Select Team, received a call up to Team USA and ultimately made the squad’s final roster. These busy few months that culminated with a Gold Medal in the FIBA Basketball World Cup has tremendously helped Plumlee’s confidence and growth.

With the departure of Andray Blatche, the second-year big man will surely receive more minutes behind Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez and may even start games occasionally. 

There are, however, facets to his game that need work. To allow his offensive play to evolve, he will need to add a solid jump shot to his repertoire. This will both help him individually become more of a threat and provide more options for Lionel Hollins on that end of the floor. 

It is worth noting Plumlee told me during the Summer League he wants to add a three-pointer to his skillset, though that is not in his imminent future.

May 10, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) advances the ball during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in game three of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Brooklyn Nets won 104-90. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Q: Deron Williams has really fallen off since he joined the Nets. What does he have to do to return to the form he had when he was one of the top point guards in the league? 

A: It’s true – Deron Williams has had his struggles since coming to Brooklyn and his issues were highlighted last season, in which he averaged the lowest point total of his career since his rookie season and could not pick his game up in the playoffs either (evidence from his 0-of-9 shooting performance). Although he was battling ankle injuries, it is clear the veteran point guard was facing confidence issues and simply did not look comfortable on the floor. 

With all the aforementioned problems, Williams still has the opportunity to reignite himself in the backcourt this season. He is only 30 years old and if healthy – which he supposedly is – combined with the talent on the Nets such as Lopez and Joe Johnson, the former All-Star certainly has the opportunity to flourish this season. 

As first-year Nets Coach Lionel Hollins recently said, “he’s back.”

Q: What matchup will you be watching when the Magic and Nets meet this season? 

More from Games

A: Up-and-coming guard Victor Oladipo against the *potentially* rejuvenated Deron Williams can make for a nice battle. I am also eager to see how Aaron Gordon will matchup against Brooklyn’s big men. I am very high on the Magic rookie and think he can make trouble in the Nets’ frontcourt.

Q: What are fair expectations for the Nets this season? Do they get back to the playoffs? 

A:The Raptors are the clear favorites in the Atlantic Division but I do believe Brooklyn can sneak into the playoffs as one of the last few seeds. As of now, it appears that the Nets, Knicks, Hawks and Pacers will all be battling for the 7 and 8 slots in the Eastern Conference. 

Of course, there are issues that may prevent the team from making the playoffs, such as health (Lopez and Williams have played in just 100 out of 245 possible games together) and chemistry. 

It is important to remember there is a new coach in place for the second consecutive season, and it is difficult to develop continuity with that sort of movement. The losses of both Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston will hurt, but the additions of Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarett Jack and others provide this team with playoff potential.