Game #45 Preview: New Jersey Nets at Orlando Magic

If you're reading this (& if you are, thank you) you're probably feeling one of three ways: excitement because the team made the moves you wanted, disappointment because the team didn't make the moves you wanted, or indifference because you've been worn out by this entire trading season and wanna get back to talking basketball. Whatever your feelings, life moves on.

And for the New Jersey Nets, that means trying to make a run at the 8 seed in a top heavy Eastern Conference. As it stands now, they're 4.5 games behind Milwaukee and have New York, Cleveland and Detroit in front of them. And the first team they face after the trading deadline? The Orlando Magic. Of course, we all figured Howard would be in Elsewhere, USA but he's still in Orlando and the drama is over (or is it? *cue ominous music* Yeah it's over).

The Nets are coming off a win vs. Toronto while the Magic are coming off a tough loss in San Antonio. Let's take a look at how these teams match up:

Offensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency

Free Throw rate

Turnover rate

Offensive Rebounding %

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%

New Jersey
















League Average








Looking at the Nets, we kinda know their story by now. A decent offense but a horrendous defense. Digging a little further, we see their struggles are due to their woeful three point defense (highest opponent's 3 point %, which manifests itself in their league highest opponent eFG) and defensive rebounding (3rd worst defensive rebounding rate in the NBA this season). The Nets are hoping the Gerald Wallace acquisition will lead to a major increase in their defense. Second chance opportunities will be hard to come by seeing as how Orlando is third in defensive rebounding.

As for the Magic, they represent a major matchup for the Nets. The Nets are worst in three point defense, while the Magic are third in three point percentage and first in attempts per game. Naturally you're gonna get to the free throw line a ton with Dwight Howard around, so that's always a positive. Of course, having Dwight Howard take a ton of FTs has a downside to it, as the Magic are bottom in FT percentage. I think the tradeoff is worth it though.

And before we move onto other stuff, let's take a trip back into time and relive an awesome moment.

Tip is at 7:00. Let's jump!

Point Guard: Deron Williams vs. Jameer Nelson

Williams' health has been improving, so I think it's safe to assume he'll be back. It's been a good, not great season for Williams as he's been tasked with making this offense worthwhile while Brooks developed and Brook Lopez sat out with injury. He's still been passing the ball well (3rd in Assist Rate), so with Wallace here, Brooks developing more as he gets more experience and Lopez coming back whenever, Deron won't have to take as many shots. If he's out, Jordan Farmar will start in his place.

Jameer Nelson gets a ton of flak from a ton of people. Some of that is warranted, as his play has been down from last season, and is a far cry from where it was when the Magic made the Finals a few seasons (he was having an excellent season, then suffered an injury that kept him out until the Finals). But his play has picked up of late, as he had an efficient (10-16, four three pointers) 25 points against the 4th best defense in the league Miami, and another 25 point game (9-15 with 5 three pointers and 7 assists) vs. Tony Parker and the Spurs. If the Magic have any hopes of making a title run this year, Nelson's gotta keep it up.

Advantage: Nets/Magic if Williams doesn't play

Shooting Guard: Marshon Brooks vs. J.J. Redick

I'd rather Brooks bump up the efficiency (a .529 TS% is OK, not great) and take shots closer to the basket (79% of his shots are jumpers), but he's had a fine rookie season all things considered.

Usually Jason Richardson is the starter, but he's missed the past couple of games due to an ankle injury. JJ Redick has stepped in, and he's been solid this season. He gets a lot of good looks thanks to Howard, and he's delivered with 45% shooting three pointers. Couple that with shooting 91% from the foul line, it's no wonder he's Top 20 in True Shooting percentage. When Richardson does come back, Redick will more than likely head back to the bench, but he'll be productive no matter the role.

Advantage: Magic

Small Forward: Gerald Wallace (Edit at 11:01 PM) DeShawn Stevenson vs. Hedo Turkoglu

So Gerald, where do you end up after you leave a team (Portland) that's falling apart at the seams? New Jersey, where a lot of members of the fanbase hate that management gave up a Top 3 protected pick for you, pissed off that Dwight Howard did Dwight Howard things, and panicked that Deron Williams might leave in Free Agency. Welcome to the Nets! But on a more serious note, Wallace has been decent this season. While he is in decline, getting away from all the foolishness being perpetuated on Blazer fans and teammates by Raymond Felton, Paul Allen and others probably outta help Wallace. That, and having a superb passing guard in Williams too. When Wallace got to Portland, he played with great passer Andre Miller and played much better than he did in Charlotte (.590 TS% in Portland vs. .530 in Charlotte and a .154 WS/48 as a Blazer vs. a 0.92 WS/48 as a Bobcat). It probably won't happen here, but I hope he cuts down on his three point attempts. Do we really need a career 31% three point shooter tossing up 3's? (Edit at 11:01 PM) Barring an injury to Gerald Wallace, this will be the last time Stevenson starts for the Nets. Thank God for that.

Decent player (Turkoglu) has a fine playoff run. Foolish team (Toronto) acquires him on a huge contract (5 years, $53 million to be exact) and expects him to be a major contributor to their success. Foolish team (Toronto again) is pissed off that decent player (Turkoglu) isn't performing to the level that he's being paid and trades him to not as foolish team (Phoenix). Not as foolish team (Phoenix) gets decent enough performance (.092 WS/48) out of Turkoglu, then trade him back to foolish team (Orlando) and steal above average center (Marcin Gortat) in exchange. Foolish team (Orlando) is stuck with him for 3 more seasons and is looking for a sucker team to trade him to.

Advantage: Nets (Edit at 11:04 PM) Magic

Power Forward: Kris Humphries vs. Ryan Anderson

Humphries had another great game on Wednesday, going for 16 points and 21 rebounds vs. Toronto. If the Nets wanna pull off the upset, they're gonna need something close to that level of play from Humphries.

Ryan Anderson is awesome. He's improved every season he's been in the NBA, with this season being his best. He's played at an All-Star level this year, as he's been #1 in three pointers made, excellent at rebounding (14 rebound rate) and is Top Ten in Effective FG% (#11 in TS% too), Win Shares, and WS/48. And the best part about this awesomeness for the Magic and their fans? He's only making $2 million this season. Damn you Rod Thorn.

Advantage: Magic

Center: Shelden Williams vs. Dwight Howard

Shelden has six fouls to use, and I'm pretty positive he will end up using all of them.

Many words have been said about Howard. Some good (by the Magic fans), most bad (pretty much everybody else nowadays). Despite that, no one criticizes Howard's play on the court, nor should they. By now, we all know how tremendous Howard is, and his play this season is just another in a line of great seasons. He's super efficient (that .575 eFG is awfully pretty), is a rebounding machine (rebound rate of 22) and is a superstar of the highest variety (5th in Win Shares). If only...

Advantage: Magic


New Jersey: Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Sundiata Gaines, Jordan Williams

Orlando: Glen Davis, Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon, DeAndre Liggins, Justin Harper

Advantage: Nets


Wade's hilarious.

As for the Nets, as of this moment, they're still a crappy team. Will that change in the next couple of days. Maybe, but it hasn't happened yet so speculating about a possible playoff run with a new player that's not even here yet is extremely premature.

I wonder what the hell Otis Smith was thinking when he gave Glen Davis a four year contract.

I always saw the Howard and Shaquille O'Neal final Orlando years being compared, and I think the situations are different. That Magic team was a legitimate Finals contender with Shaq, and this version of the Magic are likely to get knocked out before the Eastern Conference Finals.

Apparently Dwight wanted Gilbert Arenas on his team. The same Gilbert Arenas who can't find a job now. The best players certainly don't make the best GMs.

Hopefully, this "will he or won't he" with star players nearing the end of their deals dies a quick death now that the Dwight tomfoolery has ended.

"I really don't give a damn about getting fired. If they wanna fire me to please somebody, fire me." - Stan Van Gundy You're the man Stan.

Even though I hate being "stuck in the middle"(second round and out, aka Atlanta Hawks territory), you've gotta get there first before you can think of titles.

I actually got my introduction to advanced metrics through Orlando Pinstriped Post. It's worth a read, as are most other tutorials on advanced metrics.

Journey through the dark side: Orlando Pinstriped Post

The mothership: Nets vs Magic coverage

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