What can we expect in this game?
1. Al Jefferson
The Lakers/Celtics have shown in the past couple of years that the best way to contain Dwight Howard is to play him one on one with someone who is big enough and strong enough to push him away from the basket. Jefferson has that kind of strength. If he can force Howard out of his comfort zone, Orlando’s entire offense is manageable. Additionally, Jefferson needs to go right at Howard early and often. Get him in foul trouble and frustrated.
2. Paul Millsap
How much does Millsap have in the tank after last night? If he can find the energy, Millsap should dominate again tonight. Ryan Anderson is the starting 4 for the magic and he is finesse, stretch forward, mostly meant to shoot threes and keep the lane open for Howard. Millsap should be able to eat him up at both ends, if he can find the energy.
3. Three point shooting
It’s no secret that Orlando relies on three point shooting, set up by Jameer Nelson’s drive and dish and Howard’s inside game. Can the Jazz tag the shooters and keep them firing blanks? If so, the Magic offense loses its second most essential weapon.
4. Perimeter offense
Orlando lost a tough defender this offseason in Matt Barnes. Now, Mikael Pietrus is the only wing player on the Magic who can play even a shade of defense. JJ Reddick gives it a good effort, but has physical deficiencies. CJ Miles, AK, and Bell should be able to get what they want. Additionally, Jameer Nelson is too small to handle Deron. The Jazz wing players should be efficient tonight in the face of no defense.
Orlando goes very deep into their bench. The Jazz will need theirs to give them some energy and a spark more than ever. Ronnie Price, Francisco Elson, Fes, and CJ need to be on top of their games today. Hayward needs to contribute.
This is a very winnable game. But, the key will be energy. If the Jazz can show some life early and put the Magic to bed, even at home, they can cruise and start out 2-0. If they find themselves in a battle early, or get behind out of the gate, they may not have the energy to pull this one out.
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