Dwight Howard is certainly the most important puzzle to solve when facing the Orlando Magic, and the Atlanta Hawks hope a healthy dose of Jason Collins -- yes, Jason Collins -- will do the trick. But beyond that, the Hawks could find themselves unable to capitalize on Orlando's greatest weakness: a big ol' turnover problem.
The Magic are No. 14 in the NBA in offense at 1.07 points per possession. They shoot rather well when you adjust for the copious amount of three-pointers that they take, checking in with the No. 6 effective field goal percentage at .521. The Magic don't get a ton of offensive rebounds (due to Stan Van Gundy's penchant for stretch-4s) and Howard is the only foul drawer of note (and he misses almost half of his attempts), so Orlando's offense really depends on that shooting.
And that excellent shooting only gets Orlando up to No. 14 because the Magic register a ton of turnovers. The team is No. 26 in the NBA in turnover rate, coughing up the ball on 14.3 percent of their possessions. Most of that problem is directly attributable to Howard, who averages 3.6 turnovers per game and has a personal turnover rate of 16 percent.
So Atlanta should be able to take advantage of this and get some earned offense out of Orlando's turnovers, right?
The problem is that the Hawks are No. 29 in the NBA in turnover creation, earning the ball on 12.2 percent of defensive possessions. Atlanta isn't structured to pressure the ball in any situation, and Larry Drew doesn't utilize a halfcourt sytem that allows his quick, long athletes -- Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson, in particular -- to dive through passing lanes. Atlanta's defense is No. 13 in the league, but it gets by on a refusal to foul, decent shooting defense and defensive rebounding. Turnovers? Nope.
We'll see whether Drew, in addition to the Collins antidote, looks to push his Hawks into more risky defensive manuevers. He may have no choice, given the specter of repeat dominance by Dwight.
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