Going for back-to-back wins...

Essentials

  • Teams: Orlando Magic (2-5) at Detroit Pistons (1-8)
  • Date: November 16, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After finally getting their first victory of the season on Wednesday night, in a blowout on the road no less, the Detroit Pistons will look to reproduce that type of effort tonight when they host an Orlando Magic team looking to rebound from a home loss at the hands of the New York Knicks.

The Magic will surely try to take advantage of the Pistons’ porous interior defense that surrenders the most points in the paint per game in the league, but they will have to scheme to do this since their personnel isn’t exactly tailor made for the task.

Indeed, on the season Orlando manufactures 41.1 points in the paint per game (15th in the league), but they have to get creative to get points at the rim because they do not have any good ball-handlers — Jameer Nelson is out with a pulled groin — capable of breaking down defenders to get into the lane and create shots for themselves or others. Thus, they will post up the likes of Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and Nikola Vucekic and run back screens or have perimeter players cut from the opposite side of the court for easy baskets in the lane.

The Magic do a great job of moving the ball and sharing the wealth to avoid teams from keying in on any particular player. For a team without a stud scorer, it’s a great way of creating high percentage shots, and they also are very fond of using the pick-and-roll to get the defense scrambling and that’s when the Magic players do their best work as far as cutting to basket when defenders turn their heads.

It’s worth noting that Glen Davis is a decent low post option, but becomes a great one whenever defenses switch and he gets matched up with a smaller player.

It will be important for Pistons defenders to remain on high alert and not get sucked in to ball-gawking, otherwise they will easily give up baskets. Mind you, should Frank’s group be successful in defending Orlando’s early options in their plays, they should be in terrific shape because the only other recourse the Magic players have is to shoot contested jumpers given their lack of shot creators.

On the season, Jacque Vaughn’s unit is converting 43.3 percent of their shots (20th in the NBA) and only manufactures 16.7 free throw attempts per game (29th in the league).

Defensively, Orlando is a middle of the pack team as evidenced by their defensive efficiency of 101.2 (19th in the association).

Other than Arron Afflalo, the team doesn’t seem to have any other players capable of making things difficult for opponents individually. Thus, they rely on each other to cover up their limitations and use a couple of different defensive looks to get their opponents out of their comfort zone.

The Magic players always retreat to the painted area and almost concede the open jumper to make sure they do not give up easy shots at the rim. According to Hoopdata, Orlando only surrenders 22.7 shots at the rim per game (fifth least in the NBA), which in turn means that their opponents have to find other ways to score on them. Vaughn gets his defense to do this by making his players go underneath in the pick-and-roll, loading up on wing isolations to the point it looks like a zone and throwing hard double teams at post players when they put the ball on the floor.

The strategy certainly seems to be a successful one at first glance, considering that the team lacks quality size to defend the rim area, but the obvious drawback is that Magic opponents get a multitude of open jumpers, and more importantly for the Pistons, it opens up the basket area for second chance opportunities where the likes of Monroe, Maxiell, Jerebko and Drummond have been quite effective.

Detroit’s defensive woes are bound to surface against Orlando, but if they can limit the damage and be anything remotely close to average against a subpar offensive team, the Pistons should have back-to-back wins by night’s end.

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