Intel: Howard picks it up

Using Dwight Howard in more pick-and-rolls has changed the Magic's fortunes

Originally Published: May 28, 2009
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus

After his Orlando Magic lost Game 5 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Stan Van Gundy had two challenges, only tangentially related. One was to appease Dwight Howard after he complained about a lack of touches. The other was to get Howard going after the All-NBA center averaged just 16.0 ppg through the first five games of that series.

[+] EnlargeDwight Howard
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesSuperman's solid screens have the Magic on the brink of the Finals.

Van Gundy has managed to find a solution to both problems by utilizing Howard more in the pick-and-roll, and that's the biggest reason why Orlando has gone from playing two elimination games against Boston to having three chances to advance to the Finals, starting with Thursday night's Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.