Advanced Scouting: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs


Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST November 22, 2010

SRS ranks:

Orlando: 6.38 (6th)
San Antonio: 8.5 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective November 18, 2010) and

Orlando Player Ratings

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Most valuable/utilized lineups:
Nelson,Carter,Richardson,Lewis,Howard +7 in 83 minutes
Nelson,Carter,Lewis,Bass,Howard +19 in 34 minutes
Nelson,Carter,Pietrus,Lewis,Howard +26 in 16 minutes

Preferred method to create shots: Establish Dwight Howard in the post

The Orlando Magic mix the inside/outside game as well as anyone. Usually this means that they play four 3-point shooters (most who can take the ball to the rim at times) and Dwight Howard.

Howard is not the most fluid post player, but he is beastly strong and very athletic. He has also developed an array of post moves. Over the past few years, Howard frequently led the league in post possessions, which in turn, opens up the outside game. Since 2007-08, 34% of the Magic’s field goal attempts have been 3-point shots (league average was 22% and no other team exceeded 28% over that same period).

Appropriate Spurs counter: Force Howard to the middle

In 2008-09 and 2009-10 Howard consistently performed better on the post when he goes baseline. Facing single coverage (as defined by Synergy) Howard averaged 0.97 points per possession when he “turns his shoulder” baseline, but only 0.83 turning to the middle. This year, Howard has taken far more shots turning to the middle, (perhaps many teams are starting to use this strategy). He also developed a move where he initially turns to the middle before spinning baseline.

When Howard goes middle, the damage should be limited as long as he doesn’t get too far inside. A jump shot is probably the best defensive result, but if the worst happens (he gets by you), fouling him is not as great a penalty as it is against other players… as long as he doesn’t score the basket anyway.

Defensive Weakness: Isolate Nelson and post up Lewis

The Magic are good on offense and even better on defense. There are few weaknesses to be found, but the best seem to be isolating Jameer Nelson and posting up Rashard Lewis. Over the past few years Lewis has been consistently below average defending the post. Last season, Nelson allowed 1.03 PPP in isolation situations (he ranked in the 16th percentile).

Tony Parker and George Hill are both very capable of scoring in isolation plays against Nelson. Tim Duncan is the only excellent post scorer for the Spurs. If Duncan is defended by Howard instead of Lewis, he might be able to put Superman in foul trouble early by being aggressive offensively (Howard led the league in fouls committed last year).

Something to keep in mind is that as great as Dwight Howard is at blocking the ball, he does make a lot of mistakes. Officially, he scores more points for the opposing team, by way of goaltending, than any other player. From 2007-08 to 2009-10, he goaltended 145 shots. Samuel Dalembert is the only other player with more than 50. Perhaps the most enticing shot for Howard to goaltend would be Tony Parker’s teardrop.

If you haven’t read this yet, John Huizinga concludes that Duncan is a more valuable shotblocker than Dwight Howard.


It should help that the Spurs are playing at home, but this is a really tough matchup for them. Perhaps a slight advantage to the Spurs, but this one’s practically a tossup.

  • Newfan1996

    Hmm advantage where?
    and the article is saying howard is over rated?

  • The Beat Counselor

    Finally, a true test.

  • The Beat Counselor


    I would say our advantage lies in our backcourt’s ability to ball-handle and dribble penetrate.

    Their advantage lies in their ability to protect the rim.

    Positional coomparison:

    RJ(this year)/Green=Richardson/Rashard (mainly because Green is untested)
    Hill/Neal=Pietrus & White Chocolate

    All really close though. And yes I know analyzing matchups like this is not ideal.

    If Timmy can guard Howard one-on-one and our guys can move the ball and hit their open shots, we should have this, as our game-plan does not rely on our post player being doubled to create open 3s, while there’s does.

    If we have to double Howard we will have issues. They can also exploit us by having VC and Rashard post-up Manu and RJ/Blair respectively. I don’t see that happening to often though.

    Their only other advantage I can see is Jameer’s ability to hit the 3 ball, which I think TP compensates with his speed, teardrop and (this year) his playmaking(YES!).

    Can’t wait for this one.

  • Scott Sereday

    Definitely not saying he’s overrated. I think he has a shot at deservingly winning MVP, but everyone has weaknesses.

  • td4life

    Ahh, the value of post play… let’s see what we got.

  • mac

    Orlando has a lot of bigs, I hope that we don’t see too much of them unless Howard gets in foul trouble. I’d much rather take our chances with Lewis on the floor instead of Bass or Gortat. Aside from perimeter defense, if we can out rebound, we have a terrfic chance. I’d also like to see us hurt them with great free throw shooting.

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  • ITGuy

    @The Beat Counselor
    “Finally, a true test.”

    A test for the magic?
    The spurs are doing great no need for any “test”
    IF they end up losing to the magic it will only prove that they were the better team for this game and that’s all.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • bduran

    “Finally, a true test.”

    Unless we win, then Orlando had an off game/gave the game away we haven’t shown anything yet.

  • zainn

    i just want to see hack a howard upset dwight once again. That’ll make my night.

  • manufan

    I would like to see heavy doses of pick and roll offense by Spurs tonight. Howards bigest defensive weakness is defending pick and roll.

  • Tyler

    I think we’ll guard D. Howard 1 on 1 for the most par with maybe a double now and then to mix it up.

    Doubling him will just create open 3pt shots for Orlando, which is how they’ve built their team. I think this Orlando team is similar to Spurs’ teams of the past (2003-2007) in that you have to pick your poison – double down low and risk a 3pt barrage, or single coverage in the post and risk him scoring at will.

    At this point in his career, I’d still put the onus on D. Howard to beat us by himself (he hasn’t been able to do it before, although he’s greatly improved this year). If he does, hats off. But in the end, I’d rather do that than risk getting the rest of the team going.

    Either way, should be interesting from a strategy standpoint.

  • Hobson13

    I suspect our defensive strategy will be to allow Howard to get his points (especially at the FT line) but limit what others contribute. The plan will be to single team Howard, chase the shooters off the 3pt line, and attempt to limit Nelson’s penetration into the paint. If 2 of those 3 items can be accomplished, Orlando will have a tough time scoring.

    This should be a tough challenge, but no tougher than visiting a hot Utah club and winning by 12. If we tighten up our defense and have a decent shooting night, we should win this. Orlando is a good team, but has fewer offensive options than the Spurs. Go Spurs!!

  • rob

    I was looking for TS% as a team wondering what the Spurs difference is compared to their opponents.

    Where do the Spurs stand compared to their opponents shots attempted to shots made ratio?

  • Jim Henderson

    November 22nd, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “Orlando has a lot of bigs, I hope that we don’t see too much of them unless Howard gets in foul trouble. I’d much rather take our chances with Lewis on the floor instead of Bass or Gortat.”

    You’re right. Orlando is stupid not to use those guys more, and Lewis more at the SF.

  • rob

    Looking at the 2 sites made available to link to…it statistically appears the Magic would be favored to win this game by a very slim margin.

    Hopefully the center is close to full capacity for this game. Home court could (hopefully should)be a determining factor.

    If anybody is going…make your voice heard.

  • Greyberger

    Statistically the Spurs are the favorite, but most of that is home court advantage. By most statistical measures (and thus in most statistical simulations) the teams are very close with the Spurs performing a little better headed into tonight’s game.

    The Vegas line is Spurs by 3.5, ESPN’s accuscore says Spurs are 57% favorites, etc… Should be a great game.

  • joshmbp

    I would just like to say thank you for providing these advanced stats for us before each game. It helps a lot. 48minutesofhell rocks!!!

  • The Beat Counselor


    Don’t get cocky now…


    smart attitude.

    @mac & JHendu

    Yes, Gortat and Bass are definitely underrated (by SVG) and underused. Lewis has been a bum since last year but has been playing a little better lately. He screwed my fantasy this year.



    Game time.

    Let’s do this.

  • rob

    Ha Haaa!!!

  • The Beat Counselor


  • andy

    and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a quality win. naysayers be damned, i think we have the buddings of a championship team.

  • David G

    God I love Manu Ginobili!

  • Jacob

    Wow! That was an exciting game to watch! Spurs have so much heart for such an early part of the season. It’s like they picked up where they left off last year when Manu was single handedly dismantling the Celts, Magic, Cavs. I hope and pray that they can stay healthy, and dont peak too early.

    Go Spurs Go!

  • Sriram


  • LPspursFan

    like championship seasons past, the Spurs keep the game close then make all the off and def plays in crunch time!! I about had a heart attack when Manu and Georeg went turnover crazy after TP went out at the end of the third. And how about Bonner FIGHTING for rebounds!! Impressive win. Now I know we aren’t going 81-1, but this team has what it takes to add another ring. the rest of the season should be quite exciting and entertaining. We just need to stay healthy and keep pounding the rock!!

  • td4life

    And the Hornets lost tonight, so the Spurs are all alone at the top of the standings with only one loss! Love that.


    “November 22nd, 2010 at 8:18 pm and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a quality win. naysayers be damned, i think we have the buddings of a championship team.”

    Who are you talking to? EPSN had ranked number one going into tonight’s game.

    As for Spurs fans, many of us predicted a hot start the minute the schedule came out, so it was not much of a surprise, other than how tough the Hornets turned out to be… have you forgotten how easy our opening schedule was, and how much trouble we had getting wins against the suns, the rockets, and the depeleted clippers? Since then, I don’t think there have been many naysayers as we took care of OKC, Chi, Utah, and Orlando over our last 5 which is a completely different ball of wax.

    This team is great fun to watch, and is showing lots of composure. I know Pop is still looking to improve our defensive rating, but its a good month to be a Spurs fan.

    For my part, I’d like to see the Spurs put this 11 game streak behind them and tear off a 3-game streak versus Minny, Big D, and Nawlins… now that would be friggin awesome, don’t you agree andy? That plus the warriors would add up to a perfect November and 16-1! But, it’s a great start either way, and our starting guards are bad ass… yeah, what?

  • ThatBigGuy

    Pop is one helluva coach. After Blair gave up the first 3 points of the game to Rashard, Pop pulls him, gives him a friendly and encouraging chat, then tosses Blair back out there. That was a masterful example of coaching.

    12-1 looks pretty good.

  • andy

    “Who are you talking to? EPSN had ranked number one going into tonight’s game.”

    don’t get me wrong, i predicted a good run to begin the season, but i can’t say i was this optimistic. furthermore, this was our first game against what are traditionally seen as the big championship contenders. “EPSN” didn’t have us ranked #1, john hollinger did, and if you’ll remember, he had us ranked pretty highly in the leadup to the playoffs last year, too. even if oddsmakers in vegas and john hollinger barely expected us to win, i still say that as 2nd round exits last year, we were underdogs until beating them. as awesome as i think we are, and as much hope as i have, i still say we’re underdogs to the lakers, too, and that’s the way i like it.

  • Plus 1

    andy said:

    “as awesome as i think we are, and as much hope as i have, i still say we’re underdogs to the lakers, too, and that’s the way i like it.”



  • The Beat Counselor

    What up with TP hitting 2-2 from 3pt range?

    One attempt from straight on too for a change.

    Maybe that’s NOT Jameer’s advantage over Tony.

    Tony’s playing with focus.

    Like a man on a mission.

    Other things:

    -George Hill kissing it off the high glass with the finger roll over Howard

    -TD’s psyching out Howard TWICE by pump faking 8 ft away from him and running right past him for tricky lay ups once he committed

    -And what about Manu with the teardrop over Howard to close the game? Wow.

    -I almost blew a gasket with those 4 consecutive turn-overs though.

    Jeez, that was a beautiful game.

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Tim in Surrey

    @ The Beat Counselor –

    Nice post. One of the things I like about your list of “Other things” is that it gives three good examples of why blocked shots and especially “intimidation” by players like Dwight Howard is vastly overrated. For most of the game, Tony, George and Manu were the smallest guys on the court for the Spurs, yet none of them hesitated to take the ball right at Howard. There’s no intimidation factor with any of those three. And Tim showed how easy it is for a calm, savvy post player, when facing an opponent focused on the blocked shot rather than playing sound positional defense, either to draw an easy foul or (in this case) freeze him and get an easy bucket.

    One of these days, Dwight is going to grow up, stop trying to prove his manhood with dunks or emphatic blocks, and learn how to play basketball from somebody like Bill Russell or Tim Duncan. If that happens before he loses his athleticism, God help the NBA. But until then, he’s always going to be a tough and exciting but ultimately limited player.

  • Tim in Surrey

    P.S. – Go Spurs Go!!