A greatly-improved Orlando Magic take on a depleted Dallas Mavericks team bereft of confidence tonight, in a cross-conference NBA match-up at the Amway Center.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Orlando Magic – Preview
The Orlando Magic
The Magic currently sit 11th in the Eastern Conference, and with Orlando securing an ugly, gritty victory in its last game against the New Orleans Pelicans, in which an explosive second quarter proved enough to seal the result, they’re hungry for more success. They came out eventual 89-82 winners, and despite picking up the victory, it was the furthest thing from a ‘routine win’.
Missed opportunities and poor looks were the recurrent themes of Wednesday night’s action for the Magic. Truth be told, they were extremely fortunate to come away with the W. Had the Pelicans not rested their uber-star Anthony Davis, the score may have been very different. “A win is a win in the NBA, but we have to clean up a lot of things on defense and offense,” Magic power forward Serge Ibaka said in a post-game interview, as he finished tied for a team-high 16 points. The Magic will have to show a great deal of improvement if they wish to fight for a playoff spot this year.
Orlando’s offense in recent games has been an alarming issue. This was exemplified superbly in their low-scoring win against the Pelicans. Starting small forward Jeff Green’s failure to score a single point in 20 minutes acted as a poignant linchpin – he was 0-9 from the field.
Despite their offensive woes, the Magic look like a far more well-rounded team this season than years prior. The off-season acquisitions of Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Green, and D.J. Augustin have proved fruitfully successful, with the bench gaining significant strength. The Magic’s defense has improved as a result. If Orlando can get Ibaka firing, there aren’t many players who will be able to stop him. However, the power forward has been inconsistent thus far. That problem desperately needs to be ironed out before the Magic can really get going.
The Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks will play their second game in as many days tonight as their schedule becomes relatively congested, meaning that fatigue may be an issue during the trip to Orlando. This is a factor that the Magic needn’t worry about, as they’ve enjoyed a suitable three-day break. Despite boasting a former All-Star in Dirk Nowitzki and a previous member of the record-breaking Golden State Warriors in Harrison Barnes, the shots just haven’t been falling for Dallas thus far this season.
Their last back-to-back match-up saw them travel to Los Angeles to take on a young Lakers team, where they snatched a deserved victory after shooting 52.4 percent from the field. They then visited the Warriors’ super-team the following day, and Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle decided to rest a number of starters. Dallas was duly blown out. And with injuries now plaguing the Mavericks’ backcourt, Seth Curry stands alone as the only recognizable point guard, presenting numerous issues for Carlisle.
Nick Angstadt, a Mavericks expert and writer at MavsFanatic.com, believes that fans should prepare for more of the same in Orlando. This is especially so, as the proceeding game was far more important (a 64-80 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies). “It wouldn’t be surprising if Carlisle takes the same approach to this game [against the Magic], leaving the outcome in the hands of Barnes, Anderson, Seth Curry, and Dwight Powell,”Angstadt explained in an exclusive interview.
The Mavericks have struggled to contain jump-shooting big men for the entirety of the season. They’re allowing their opponents to shoot 41 percent from three – a worrying statistic. Defensively, they’ve had a torrid time, accentuated by the struggles that Nowitzki has faced in maintaining full health. And with the injury list ever growing, it looks like Dallas could be in for a long year.
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. “To put it lightly, several Dallas Therapists lost money because of how good Harrison Barnes has been. He’s been better than expected, especially on offense. He’s one of the few bright spots on this team,” Angstadt said, echoing the thoughts of the majority of Mavericks fans, who are pleasantly surprised by Barnes’ commanding performances. In addition to Barnes, Andrew Bogut has been a solid acquisition, providing some stellar defensive displays to go with Barnes’ offensive dominance. These two are the keys to success for the Mavericks.
Orlando will be looking to improve on its mediocre 3-3 home record. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will be hoping to halt their decline and attempt to drag themselves out of the cesspool that is the bottom of the Western Conference.
Many thanks to Nick Angstadt for his time and his words. You can visit his site at MavsFanatic.com.
March 17, 2014: Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle during an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Boston 94-89 (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)