He’s been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA season. He’s been the most prolific three-point shooter this year. He could have easily been an All-Star and is one of the top candidates to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. But thus far, Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson has been nowhere to be found through three games in Orlando’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Indiana Pacers.
Without Dwight Howard, few gave the Magic much of a chance against the Pacers in the series. But after Orlando stole Game 1 in Indianapolis, there was a restored sense of hope surrounding Orlando. Since then however, the series have been far from kind to the Magic. In Games 2 and 3, Orlando has lost by a combined 38 points and have not been remotely in the game in the fourth quarter. But as tough as the last two games have been for Orlando, the series has been for Anderson.
During the regular season, Anderson averaged 16.1 points and nearly 8 rebounds-per-game. In this series against Indiana, Anderson is averaging less than half of his season scoring average and just 5 rebounds-per-contest while shooting a dismal 32 percent from the field. Anderson has yet to make an impact, but for Orlando to have any shot to win the series, he will have to.
The poor shooting and down numbers have not been Anderson’s only problems in the series however. Anderson has battled through foul trouble in each of the first three games and has had a horrendous time trying to cover the taller Roy Hibbert and the stronger David West. While Anderson’s time has been limited due to foul trouble, he has yet to make the most of the opportunities that he has had.
In Orlando’s 81-77 win in Game 1, Anderson recorded just 5 points and 6 rebounds. But with under a minute to play and the Magic clinging to a one-point-lead, Anderson had a chance to deliver the dagger. Anderson had an open look at the top of the arc from downtown, a shot that he has made all year long, and missed it well short. Fortunately for Anderson, his team was able to grab the victory, but that has not been the case since.
Anderson had a strong first half in Game 2 scoring 8 points and pulling down 8 rebounds; Anderson was held to just three points and without a rebound in the second half before fouling out midway through the final quarter.
Anderson was held scoreless for the first three quarters in Game 3 before scoring 7 in the final period. His 7 points however, came with the game already out of reach and in reality, were no more meaningful than Von Wafer’s 6 in mop-up duty.
Hope seems bleak for Orlando at the moment, but in reality, a win on Saturday would even the series 2-2 and put the Magic right back in the thick of things. A loss would all, but seal Orlando’s fate of a first round exit for the second straight year. If the Magic are to turn things around, Anderson’s performance will be critical as it has been all year long for the Magic.
In wins this season, Anderson scores 18.2 points-per-game as compared to 13 in losses. Anderson also averages nearly two more rebounds-per-game in Magic victories (8.5 in wins, 6.6 in losses). Anderson also happens to shoot nine percent better from the field in wins and a whopping 15 percent better from beyond the arc. While the injured Howard is undoubtedly the best player on the team, the Magic have fared this season only as well as Ryan Anderson.
If the Magic are to win on Saturday and even the series, Anderson will need to return to form and become an intricate part of the offense. Staying out of foul trouble will be equally as crtical for Anderson and the Magic in Game 4. If Orlando is to shock the world and take this series, the shots will need to be falling. During the regular season, no one took more of those shots for the Magic than Ryan Anderson. Game 4 will tip-off just after 2:00 P.M. eastern time on Saturday in Orlando.
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