NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Reasons Orlando Magic Can Survive Without Dwight Howard

Stephen Fenech@Fenech2491Correspondent IMay 2, 2012

NBA Playoffs 2012: 4 Reasons Orlando Magic Can Survive Without Dwight Howard

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    The Orlando Magic are in an interesting position, with their best player being out for the playoffs and their coach presumably coaching his final games for the organization. 

    While most experts expected the Pacers to dominate the Dwight Howard-less Magic, that has not been the case in the first two games. 

    The Magic stole Game 1, 81-77, with a strong team performance. 

    The Magic led the Pacers at halftime of Game 2, but the Pacers dominated the second half and beat the Magic by 15. 

    In the second half of Game 2, the Pacers played better defense and the Magic only scored 34 points.

    The series is tied at one game each as the teams head to Orlando for Games 3 and 4. 

    Dwight Howard won't be coming back to help the team in the playoffs, but that doesn't mean the Magic are immediately doomed. 

3-Point Shooting

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    The Orlando Magic are more dependent on the three than any other team in the league.

    The Magic hit more threes than any other team in the league, averaging just over 10 a game. 

    They converted on 37.5 percent of their attempts in the regular season, which was good for third in the league, behind only the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors

    When Howard was in the lineup, they would feed him the ball down low and wait for the double-team to come. The help defense would leave someone open behind the arc. 

    Now that Howard is gone, opposing teams no longer have to double-team anyone in the post. 

    However, that doesn't mean that the team still isn't a threat from behind the arc. 

    In Game 1, the Magic hit nine treys, with Jason Richardson hitting five of those. 

    The Magic will go as far as their three-point shooting will take them. It is that simple.

    Without Howard in the lineup, the Magic defense is not very good. The absence of Howard has shown just how important he is defensively for the Magic. 

    For the Magic to win games, they will need to focus on outscoring their opponents. When their threes are falling, they have the ability to do just that. 

Jameer Nelson

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    Jameer Nelson is the epitome of an underdog. 

    Nelson is undersized, as he is under six-feet tall. In a game dominated by size, Nelson manages to be effective while facing players that are much bigger than him. 

    He does this with grit, determination and focus to make up for his height. Of course, his ball-handling and three-point shooting also go a long way in making Nelson the player that he is today. 

    In April, Nelson has raised his level of play. He has averaged 15.3 points and 7 assists per game in Howard's absence. 

    Nelson is the unquestioned leader of the Magic now and he has a tall task ahead of him. That task being leading the Magic past the Pacers and into the second round of the playoffs. 

    The Magic will be relying on Nelson to facilitate the offense and help create shots for his teammates. 

    As stated in the last slide, the Magic will need to be effective from behind the arc to stand any chance. 

    Nelson, with his ability to get into the lane, has to draw the defense in and then dish the ball to his open teammates behind the arc. 

    In Game 1, Nelson had 17 points, nine assists and shot almost 47 percent from the field.

    In Game 2, Nelson was less effective; scoring 12 points, recording just three assists and shooting a paltry 30 percent.

    As evidenced by this series thus far, the Magic will go as far as Nelson will take them 

Glen Davis

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    Glen "Big Baby" Davis has taken over for the injured Howard as the team's starting center and has performed very well.

    Unfortunately for the Magic, they are drastically undersized compared to the Pacers. 

    Someone must have forgotten to tell that to Davis, who may be auditioning for a starting role in Orlando for next season. 

    Through the first two games of the series, Davis has averaged 17 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per contest.

    Those numbers represent a major improvement over Davis' regular-season numbers, although he is receiving more minutes now that he is in the starting lineup. 

    Davis has also done an excellent job guarding the Pacers' starting center, Roy Hibbert.

    Despite giving up four inches to the 7'2" Hibbert, Davis has dominated him thus far in this series. 

    Hibbert is averaging just six points per game and has been outplayed by Davis. 

    The Magic will need Davis to continue to play at this level if they hope to pull this series out. 

Ryan Anderson

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    Ryan Anderson is a candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year award and he is very deserving of the accolade.  

    Anderson burst onto the scene this year, averaging 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and leading the league in three-pointers made.

    Unfortunately for both the Magic and Anderson, he has yet to play that well in the playoffs.

    After the first two games of the series, Anderson is averaging only eight points, or half of what he averaged in the regular season. 

    Anderson still has time to bounce back, though, as it has only been two games and the Magic will play at least three more games. 

    The Magic will need Anderson to regain his regular-season form for them to get by the Pacers. 

    When Anderson is on, he is a nightmare for defenses to guard due to his proficiency from behind the arc. 

    Anderson is capable of scoring in bunches and is a threat on the offensive boards. He has a unique game style, focusing on perimeter shooting and offensive rebounding. 

    Expect Anderson to come alive as the series heads to Orlando, where he tends to perform a little better.

    When playing inside the friendly confines of the Amway Center, Anderson averaged 17 points and shot 40.5 percent from behind the arc. 

    The Magic will need Anderson to break out at home so they don't head back to Indiana in a hole.