We have looked at what the Orlando Magic bloggers had to say, what the Charlotte Bobcats players had to say, what we had to say, and what the internet had to say about this series, but what do the numbers tell us about the Magic and Bobcats series? It is time to find out here are what the numbers say…
Get to their bench. If you want to beat the Magic, you have to get Dwight Howard off the court when Marcin Gortat is at the 5, Orlando is nearly a .500 basketball club, with a net efficiency of just +0.4, compared to a +10.9 when he is not playing. Is the difference between Dwight Howard and Marcin really that great? Yes, maybe more. Dwight had a PER this season of 23.9 while holding his opponents to a 12.4. Marcin had a PER of 14.0 while his man managed a 16.2. So, from a net of +11.5 PER to -2.2 oh, and it gets worse if you account for who they guarded. Dwight Howard's expected opponent averaged a 16.1 PER, while Gortat faced a cumulative opponent of just 15.1. Yes, Gortat is a serviceable big man who could probably start for a couple of teams around the league but Dwight Howard is an entirely different monster.
When you look at the Magic's most common lineups, you see a lot of positive net efficiencies. In fact, there is but a single lineup in their 10 most used lineups that does not boast a net efficiency of at least +1.1 and that lineup used Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Matt Barnes, Jameer Nelson…and J.J. Redick. The difference between that group and the starters Vince Carter in for J.J. – and a defensive efficiency mark of 109.2, which is simply atrocious for a team that finished the season number three in the category (109.2 would have put them at 25th in the league). While Redick impressed last year in the playoffs, hounding Ray Allen in the Orlando-Boston series, he appears to still be a bit limited defensively. Overall, when Redick is on the court, the Magic have a defensive efficiency mark of 104.5 and when he is off, 100.8. Again, to beat the Magic, get to the bench.
What else can we find in the numbers? Well, the Magic want to see Tyson Chandler on the court as little as possible. While Tyson has played just 51+ minutes against Orlando this year, that has been some very productive time for the Bobcats, as they held a net efficiency with Tyson on the court of +5.1, with an offensive mark of 98.9 and an amazing defensive number of 93.8. Again, just 51 minutes but a promising sign. A part of that was in his ability to contain Dwight Howard sort of. Against Tyson, Dwight managed just 16.1 points per 40 minutes, well below his mark of 21.1 for the season. Now for the sort of a large part of that slow down was that Dwight hit just 31.3% of his free throw attempts in that time.
The last thing I want to point out: Somehow the Bobcats managed to play the Magic to a draw this season with Dwight Howard on the court. 303-301 Bobcats in 160+ minutes with Dwight on the court. But in just over 36 minutes with Dwight off the floor, the Bobcats got crushed 84-60. Yes, I know it goes against my point of get to the bench and the importance of Tyson Chandler squaring off against Superman. But that is the point over the course of the season, the Magic have been a far superior team with Dwight Howard on the floor, crushing (almost) all comers. But in 4 games against the Bobcats, Charlotte has managed to compete and even nosed ahead of the Man of Steel, only to see that work done in by mere mortals. With an improved rotation with the addition of Tyrus Thomas, Theo Ratliff, and Stephen Jackson since the start of the season, the Bobcats know they can hold their own against Superman and his friends and while superior talent wins out over the course of a season, anything can happen when the sample is just a handful of games.
11/10/09 ORL-CLT recap – Boxscore – 93-81 Orlando
11/16/09 ORL-CLT recap – Boxscore – 97-91 Orlando
01/23/10 ORL-CLT recap – Boxscore – 106-95 Orlando
03/14/10 ORL-CLT recap – Boxscore – 96-89 Charlotte