2 p.m. PT
Amway Center - Orlando, FL
TV: CSNBA/HD | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy blog: Orlando Pinstriped Post
As Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News reported, given the Golden State Warriors' struggles to put away a 10-20 team on Sunday there's no reason to look past or underestimate the Orlando Magic on today's game to conclude 2013.
And in any event, this team has too much work to do to get to where they think they should be to start relaxing.
We can begin with Draymond Green's quote from Durkin's article, which highlights the fact that this team is still coming together as a unit because they simply haven't been together as a unit very often yet this season (Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and now Jermaine O'Neal have all had extended absences). Then there's the turnover problem. Perhaps all of that has come together to create these situations where they find themselves down by 17+ points in the first half to teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Toronto Raptors.
And although I hate to reach back to last season to frame a preview for this season, the way the Warriors got swept by the Magic last season might provide an additional test today: it wasn't just that the Warriors got swept by the Magic, it's that it felt like they got out-hustled, out-muscled, and downright beat up by a team that most people can probably agree was inferior on paper. For a so-called "no excuses ball club", that shouldn't have happened once and should've been considered unacceptable to occur twice.
So the keys to this game can probably start there.
Three keys to victory for the Warriors
Rebounding: The Magic weren't an elite offensive rebounding team last season (though they established a narrow edge on the boards against the Warriors last season), but they have established themselves as one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the league right now.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Magic were fifth in the league in defensive rebounding last season (74.6%) - this season they're sixth (76.1%). Let's not pretend that offensive rebounding has been a major strength for the Warriors because it hasn't been but defensive rebounding has been a strength: the Warriors were tops in the league last season and sit just ahead of the Magic in fifth this season (76.2%). The problem is that Nikola Vucevic absolutely owned the Warriors on the boards last season averaging 16 per game, including 5.5 offensive rebounds. That just can't happen. And there might be reason to believe that it won't this time around.
Andrew Bogut: Not to make excuses for last year's losses, but this is an opponent against which Bogut clearly would've made an impact simply by filling up space in the paint and at the very least challenging the rebounding juggernaut that is Vucevic. Some people like to pretend that Bogut is worthless if he's not putting up big numbers, but if this game goes anything like last year's then having that big body just to battle inside could make a big difference.
Turnovers (copied and pasted from my previous preview): The Warriors
have dropped to remain 30th in the league in turnover percentage (15.5%). And so many of the Warriors' turnovers come on careless plays that are totally preventable. During stretches when the team isn't turning the ball over, they can play beautiful basketball. If Steph Curry can keep his turnovers down at the very least, that could go a long way to getting a win.