Bucks Vs. Magic Preview: Beware Ryan Anderson, Jason Richardson And The Magic Three Ball

2011/2012 NBA Season

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19-11 (11-6 home) 12-17 (5-10 away)
February 17, 2012
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
6:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Jameer Nelson PG Brandon Jennings
Jason Richardson SG Shaun Livingston
Hedo Turkoglu SF Carlos Delfino
Ryan Anderson PF Ersan Ilyasova
Dwight Howard C Jon Leuer

(14th) 103.6 - OFFENSE - 102.9 (16th)
(12th) 101.2 - DEFENSE - 104.7 (19th)
(26th) 89.3 - PACE - 92.2 (11th)

On the Magic: Orlando Pinsriped Post / Magic Basketball / Orlando Sentinel

Update: Via Ted Davis, Jon Leuer will start at center in place of Drew Gooden (wrist/knee) while Ersan Ilyasova has reclaimed the starting PF spot over Luc Mbah a Moute. The move is an obvious attempt to shake things up following Wednesday's sobering loss to the Hornets, though Charles Gardner writes that Skiles is also hoping that Ilyasova and Leuer force Dwight Howard to defend the perimeter more. Howard switched on to Mbah a Moute at numerous times during last weekend's game with Orlando in order to avoid defending the more perimeter-capable Gooden.

The Orlando Magic are quite hot after enduring a disastrous end to the month of January, and are winners of seven of their last nine games, including a current streak of three straight victories. Since staging a stunning comeback in Milwaukee on Feb. 11, the Magic have recorded comfortable home victories against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks have shown zero signs of life since opening February with an exciting upset win over the Miami Heat. Fans have grown restless as the team has turned listless. Not only are the Bucks losers of six of the last eight games, they are also putting together a malicious collection of terrible losses. The depleted New Orleans Hornets are the latest pelt on that wall.

Three Is A Magic Number. Just in case Jason Richardson's 9-11 performance from beyond the arc against the Bucks last Saturday didn't convince you immediately, it is important to know that the Orlando Magic love to shoot threes and thus have the potential to destroy their opponents in a blink. They take a higher percentage of threes than any other team in the league (33.5 percent of their total shots) and convert those attempts at the fourth-highest rate. In the month of February (nine games), Ryan Anderson is taking seven threes per game and hitting a sparkling 47.5 percent, but still can't match Jason Richardson's 54.5 percent on the same number of attempts.

The Magic have taken 25+ shots from beyond the arc in five of their previous six games, and last Thursday in a win over the Heat they became only the fifth team since 1986 to attempt 42+ threes and make at least 17 of them. When teams elect to sag and smother interior passing lanes to keep the ball away from Dwight Howard, Orlando responds by working the ball around the perimeter until they catch the defense out of position and find an open sharpshooter. Consider this: of the 110 threes they have made so far in February (nine games), 86.3 percent have been assisted by a teammate.

Two Grumbly Coaches. His team has shared the ball well, converted three-point attempts at an elite level and won seven of the last nine games, so Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy is happy right? Nope. In his post-game comments following Orlando's impressive 103-87 win, after Ryan Anderson scored 27 points on 7-10 shooting from three and the team recorded assists on every one of their 15 made triples, SVG still wanted to nitpick Anderson for rebounding:

"I don't think Ryan needs to think about getting shots, tonight they were there. Guys made plays to him, and that's how Ryan needs to play. He shot the ball great, but he played 29 ½ minutes and got two rebounds. That's not good enough, that means all you're doing out there is shooting the ball. He's got to be more than a shooter, he's got to be able to play well. I know what he's capable of doing."

"I want the guy to be striving to be a great player, not just a shooter."

Scott Skiles has had his fair share of moments as head coach of the Bucks, including his recent response to a question probing for his insights into Brandon Jennings' swoon -- "nothing I would like to share" -- but SVG gives him a real run for his money in the coaching curmudgeon contest.

One Solution The Bucks Could Try To Reignite Brandon Jennings. In his last 10 games, Jennings owns a terrible set of shooting numbers -- 35.3% FG, 31.9% 3PT and 46.1% TS -- but unfortunately there is no stat for bravado; just know it is rapidly approaching zero. Here is the Wikipedia plot synopsis for How Stella Got Her Groove Back:

Stella (Angela Bassett) is a very successful, 40-year-old stock broker raising her son and living inMarin County, California who is persuaded by her New York friend Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) to take a well-deserved, first-class vacation to Montego Bay, Jamaica. As she soaks in the beauty of the island, she encounters a strapping young islander, Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs), who is 20 years younger (20 years old). His pursuits for her turn into a hot and steamy romance that forces Stella to take personal inventory of her life and try to find a balance between her desire for love and companionship, and the responsibilities of mother and corporate executive.

Most of this is sappy nonsense (yet the age difference between Stella and Winston is strangely similar to the gap between Brandon and S-Jax), but if someone can pull off an effective analysis filled with metaphors to illuminate a path for Brandon Jennings to get his groove back, that would be great. Consider it an open contest for the comments section, but just remember to keep it classy.

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