The San Antonio Spurs (53-28) have been labeled by many as this years sleeper team, who possibly could use their experience to boost themselves for a playoff push.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we have heard all of this over and over again. But with the Eastern conference proving that they're the better conference, there has to be other teams that can make noise in the East, right?
Right, other teams can make noise. But their is one team in the East that has hardly been mentioned as being a true playoff contender. The Orlando Magic (58-23) have more than held their own this year in the toughest conference.
They have been crippled with injuries to all-star point guard Jameer Nelson, and recently all-star forward Rashard Lewis, and defending most-improved player, Hedo Turkoglu. Without the recent skid that they are on without Lewis, Turkoglu, and the resting Dwight Howard, the Magic are 58-20.
The Magic are 21-12 after acquiring point guard Rafer Alston.
Alston was acquired after Nelson was announced to have season-ending surgery on his torn labrum. GM Otis Smith has been praised as saving Orlando's season by acquiring Alston and guard Tyronn Lue. Without acquiring those two, Orlando would only have one true point guard in Anthony Johnson.
The Orlando Magic look to make a push by playing the same basketball they have played all season long. The Magic have a +6.46 advantage in scoring per game with netting 101.08 points per game as a team and holding opponents to 94.61 points per game. Scoring and defense are key for any team to thrive, but for Orlando, it is a necessity. The Magic are 42-4 when scoring over 100, while they are 16-12 when they allow their opponents to score 100 or over.
Field goal percentage is also a key for Orlando's playoff success. With the leagues' leader in 3-point field goals made in Rashard Lewis, and with some of the NBA's leaders in field goal percentage in Dwight Howard(.574%) and rookie Courtney Lee (.451%), the Magic are one of the more sharper teams in the league, and need to make shots consistently in order to win. The Magic are .457% as a team from the field along with sinking .380% from beyond the arc.
The Magic are 48-4 when they maintain a better field goal percentage throughout the game.
Lastly, with Dwight Howard in the middle of the paint, you are likely to outrebound your opponent, and that is exactly what Stan Van Gundy and Orlando will need to do in order to win playoff games. Howard is the league leader in rebounds at 13.9 per game, while the whole team averages 43.23 per game. An important stat for Orlando is that they allow opponents to grab 42.12 boards per game, when the Magic outrebound their opponent they are 34-7.