As usual, the Magic have been delegated the role of perceived weakest team. Consensus seems to be that the Magic will be the team most susceptible to a first-round upset at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks.
When it comes to statistics and the Orlando Magic, most of the attention surrounds three-point percentages and three-point shots made.
In the last few weeks of the season, Dwight Howard's points per game and double-double games garnered attention.
But the Magic have steadily sought to become more than that.
If you've watched the Magic since the All-Star break, you realize the team will need more than 40 percent shooting from the three-point line and 30 points per night from Howard to beat the Hawks.
Outside of the basics—rebounding, shooting, turn overs, etc.—there will be other key stats that might tell us how well the Magic have played in this year's NBA playoffs.
Brandon Bass: Blocks
Last season, Brandon Bass saw little action until the Eastern Conference Finals. Bass played well in two games and showed some of the promise that motivated Otis Smith to sign him via free agency.
Outside of becoming an effective mid-range jump shooter, people may not realize that Bass has shown potential to be a shot blocker going back to his time with the Dallas Mavericks.
Bass averaged .7 rebounds per game this season. If he can nudge that average up to one per game, that could be a good sign for the Magic. More blocks means a bigger defensive impact in the paint for Bass.
Howard will need help defending down low in order to stay out of foul trouble—and stay on the floor.
Gilbert Arenas: Assists
Arenas has disappointed Magic fans thus far into the season. Some fans believe the Magic would have been better served keeping Rashard Lewis. I disagree.
Many in Orlando thought Arenas would come in and play a traditional point guard role. Arenas continues to struggle finding his niche in the Magic's half-court offense.
That niche will become more apparent, and I believe more comfortable for Arenas, in the NBA playoffs.
NBA playoff defense dictates that Arenas will have the opportunity to become a one-on-one scorer. The Magic have always lacked a shot-creator off the dribble.
If Arenas can effectively run the high pick-and-roll, he could get hot. When Arenas gets hot, he doesn't pass—that's fine as long as he gets 25 points.
Fewer assists by Arenas could actually be a good thing for the Magic.
Dwight Howard: Assists
We don't think of the big fella as a ball distributor. But when Howard can keep the ball moving, the Magic become dangerous.
Atlanta generally chooses to play Howard one-on-one. That works in theory, but when Howard catches the ball in the paint, somebody always cheats on support defense.
If Howard can anticipate defensive help assignments, finding an outlet pass could create more open shots for Magic shooters.
Otherwise, Horford will be forced into play more true one-on-one basketball. In either situation, the Magic stand to benefit.
Hedo Turkoglu: Points in the Paint
When Hedo plays the point/forward position, the Magic offense becomes very difficult to defend.
Hedo has always been known as good long-range shooter. But his scoring ability off of the high pick-and-roll goes highly underrated. Turkoglu can drive off the pick, step back and shoot and even pull up on the drive for the mid-range jumper.
When Hedo drives the lane, he puts big pressure on defenders. In addition, when Hedo forces teams to collapse, shots for open shooters increase.
In clutch situations, Hedo's inside game gives the Magic an option to take higher-percentage shots in the lane.
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