You are seeing a real masterful showdown between two great coach in Stan Van Gundy for the Orlando Magic and Avery Johnson for the New Jersey Nets. The Nets are having a little trouble closing out games early in the season and the young team may not have mastered some of the key defensive principles that Johnson wants to instill in them, but they are certainly making progress. The team had such a disastrous year last year, nearly breaking the NBA record for least wins in a season at one juncture that it is hard to believe that such an experience didn’t permanently damage young guys like Brook Lopez from a basketball confidence stand point long term.
The Magic still have Vince Carter who will be out there trying to prove to his former team, the Nets that he can still get the job done. Carter has been rejuvenated it seems since he came to the Magic last year. Many people think he has largely outplayed Magic forward Rashard Lewis. Lewis happens to one of the highest paid players in the league so surely Magic fans will be looking for more product from him. Lewis should be able to take care of some fairly sub par defenders in Travis Outlaw and others. Outlaw has to become a better on the ball defender given the amount of money that the Nets paid him in the offseason from Portland. Outlaw simply can not get by on his natural talent alone as he happens to get older.
The Nets are also hoping that Derrick Favors turns into the Dwight Howard of the future or anything close to it. The Nets have some people in the front court like Kris Humphries to guard Howard, but Humphries and people like the veteran former Maryland Terrapins star Joe Smith have a long night ahead of them if they think they can contain Dwight Howard, Howard and the Magic do always seem to play very well at home in the regular season. Jameer Nelson may also give people like Terrence Williams headaches as they try and keep him out of the lane or from hitting a number of pull up jumps. Avery Johnson has showed some real confidence in people like Terrence Williams. The hope should be that if Williams happens to hit a wall during the season that he can call on veterans like Troy Murphy for advice, even though they play vastly different roles and positions on the team.
Murphy hasn’t been in a lot of big games during his NBA career given that he has played for the Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers during some lean years, Murphy’s play has always been consistent and he never quits. The Nets will need his leadership skills if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.
Some coaches may say that Murphy takes some wild shots and this may be true, but he is always ready to crash the offensive boards. You have to remember that the Magic likely have some more scoring power on their roster with the likes of Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson in the fold. Richardson tends to take some wild shots, but coaches seem to live with it, given his skill set