Hawks-Magic: The Hawks Had The Perfect Game Plan.

Tonight’s game between the Hawks and the Magic exposed Orlando’s biggest offensive weakness.  They played Dwight Howard straight up and stayed home on the Magic’s perimeter players.  Obviously, anyone who watches basketball knows that is the defensive game plan of choice against the Magic. 
The table above compares the difference in the Magic offense when Dwight scores less than 25% of their points and when he scores more.  The difference is astounding.  The Magic are 36-12 when he is less the 25% of the offense!  An astute observer would say, “Of course they lose more when he scores a higher percentage of the team’s points, that probably means the rest of the team is scoring fewer points in general.” However, in this instance, the stats don’t bear that out.  The team actually scores more points when he is scoring less, 100.9 points per game to 97.3 points per game.  Obviously, they need him to score; they can’t win if he only scores 10 points per game, but if he is scoring 35-40 points they’re  usually in bad shape.  The strategy of using single coverage on Dwight works because the Magic don’t have guys that create their own shots, they tend to hang around the perimter, and they don’t move well without the ball.  They are too dependent on him kicking out to the three-point shooter or the guy who passes to the three-point shooter.  I bet he has a lot of hockey assists.

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