Magic vs. Pacers Key Matchup: Roy Hibbert vs. Nikola Vucevic

By Ryan Heckman
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NBA season is finally ready to kickoff Tuesday and one of the very first match ups we’ll see is when the Orlando Magic visit the Indiana Pacers. In a battle of two teams that are clearly far off from each other’s current state, the Pacers look to easily knock off a much weaker Magic team.

But, the Magic do have some playmakers they are hoping step up against one of the East’s elite. Both Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo will be guys to watch against Indiana Tuesday night. Harris exploded in 27 games with the Magic last season, putting up over 17 points per game in his new role as a starter with Orlando. Oladipo, meanwhile, is an exciting rookie that can do it all.

In this game, one of the key match ups will be between the two very talented centers, Roy Hibbert and Nikola Vucevic. Hibbert saw plenty of playoff experience last season as he got to go up against teams like the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, but in this game he’ll be facing arguably one of the best young big men in the game in Vucevic.

Vucevic was one of just a handful of big men to average a double-double last year as he put up 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, also throwing in a block per game as well. Hibbert, on the flip side, averaged 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 2012 — clearly the superior defender when looking at his performance a year ago.

In 2012, Vucevic averaged 12.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game in three match ups against the Magic. Hibbert, meanwhile, put up 10 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in those contests.

For the Magic to have a shot to win this game, Vucevic is going to have to start the season hot with another double-double and hope he can get the best of Hibbert in the post. He’ll have a tough time working against the taller, more physical and more athletic Hibbert but Vucevic proved last year that he can hold his own.

Tuesday night will be a big game for Orlando as they look to shock Indiana and start the season with tons of momentum. To get there, Vucevic will have to win his matchup with Hibbert. It’s not out of the question, but it will definitely be a challenge.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.



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