Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

3 Things To Watch For: Magic-Sixers Preview

1. How low (small) can you go?

With Dwight Howard and Glen Davis missing the game for Orlando, they are prepared to play small lineups for heavy doses of time. In response, the Sixers will start Thaddeus Young, who hasn’t started a game in over a year, and move Elton Brand to the center position. I like the adjustment for the starting five (I think it should happen more often in cases like this); however, I dislike that Nikola Vucevic could get a DNP-CD for the game, because Spencer Hawes will certainly play before him and the Sixers aren’t likely to bring two centers off the bench. Instead, the Sixers will play one of their small forwards as the backup at the 4, whether it’s Andre Iguodala or even Sam Young.

Daniel Orton, who is a pretty large but inexperienced guy, will start at center for Orlando.

2. Covering the shooters

Orlando takes more threes than any team in the league by a huge margin, 27 per game (New York is second, with 22.9 attempts per game). Three of their starting five players, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, and Ryan Anderson, are excellent shooters who need to be contained. Redick comes off screens more often than not, while the others are stand-still, but eadch requires attention. When Dwight Howard is in the lineup, his presence and demand for double teams creates openings for the 3-4 good these and other shooters accompanying him on the floor. When he’s not in the lineup, the Magic depend more on dribble penetration to create open looks, primarily from Jameer Nelson.

Like most games, Jrue Holiday is tasked with defending a quick point guard. However, his defensive performance tonight means more than most. If Nelson can’t create for Orlando, who can? So if Holiday can keep Nelson out of the paint consistently – which is doable for him – the Magic could have a rough time scoring.

3. Energy (Effort?) Conservation

If the Sixers play to their potential – which is a HUGE if – they can win this game with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. In that case, as the first of a B2B2B, they can get some of their key players rest. Orlando, at this point, is a shell of its former self. Howard is just that good. The Sixers can win this game fairly easily. Of course, if they conserve their effort from the get-go, then we could be in for another snoozer. I’m not sure there’s any room in between.

Tags: 3 Things Andre Iguodala Daniel Orton Dwight Howard Elton Brand Glen Davis J.J. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Jrue Holiday Nikola Vucevic Ryan Anderson Sam Young Spencer Hawes Thaddeus Young

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