Preview: Deron Williams Leads Nets South to Face Dwight Howard and the Magic

Artem AltmanContributor IIIMarch 25, 2011

Brook Lopez's strong play against Howard is key to a win over the Magic. (Getty Images)
Brook Lopez's strong play against Howard is key to a win over the Magic. (Getty Images)

Sometime between yesterday and today, the New Jersey Nets will have traveled down to Florida to get ready for their showdown with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

This will be the Nets' third game this season against Magic; Orlando currently leads the season series 3-0, but this might be their first one with Deron Williams running the team.

I say might since Williams’ game status won’t be determined until Williams joins the team down in Orlando.

If Williams plays, his game will be a bit rusty after a three-game layoff to rest an injured wrist. However, a big game could be expected from Williams, as he scored 30 and 32 points in each of the two games with Utah Jazz against the Magic earlier this season.

New Jersey, just like almost every other team in the league, will be hard-pressed on defense as it will try to contain the physical force that is Howard.

Second in the league in both blocks and rebounds, Howard will most likely force the Nets to go deep into their bench reserves. This means that Johan Petro, Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright could see extended minutes assisting Brook Lopez down in the low post.

The whirlwind that is Kris Humphries will also have his hands full, as I’m sure that he will also be called on to help out with Howard.

If Howard has an obvious advantage at the center position—I’m not saying that Lopez is a weak center, but one that is currently struggling to rebound—if Williams plays, the Nets hold an advantage in the point guard department.

Jameer Nelson is one of the premier point guards in the league, but he will struggle against a stronger and bigger Williams.

If there is a key to New Jersey pulling out a win against Orlando, then it would definitely be the play of Williams. I wouldn’t expect him to come out of the gate shooting, but his propensity forgetting his teammates involved will be a factor in the Nets having a fighting chance.

And an above-average shooting performance from the mid-range and out would help out greatly.

A wild card in this matchup is Hedo Turkoglu. The Nets’ best bet against Turkoglu is Travis Outlaw, as he might be the only one on the Nets squad both tall enough to contest Turkoglu’s shot and quick enough to stay with him off the dribble.

Anyone else that the Nets use will have a problem in one area or the other.


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