|Jameer Nelson||PG||Antonio Daniels|
|Maurice Evans||SG||D. Stevenson|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Caron Butler|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Antawn Jamison|
|Dwight Howard||C||Brendan Haywood|
|3 Nov 2007: Magic 94, Wizards 82|
|5 Mar 2008: Magic 122, Wizards 92|
It'll be a potential first-round playoff matchup for the Orlando Magic as they take on Washington Wizards tonight. The Magic have won five straight games and are really surging toward the playoffs. The Wizards, which hold a firm grip on second-place in the Southeast, recently got back to .500 by going 3-0 last week. A lazy loss to the third-place Atlanta Hawks on Monday night set Washington squarely at .500.
Although we've handled Washington fairly well in the two previous meetings this season, especially in the 30-point beatdown we handed them two weeks ago, we can't discount them. Like us, they recently managed to defeat the Cavaliers, and they have their All-Star small forward, Caron Butler, back from a hip injury; Butler did not play in these teams' previous meeting. The Wiz may be a mere 33-33, but they can hang with us for sure, and stand a solid chance of ending our winning streak if we don't come out prepared. It's hard to imagine calling a game against a playoff-bound team a "trap game," but such is the nature of the Eastern Conference.
There's a good chance Gilbert Arenas will return from knee surgery tonight. Agent Zero hasn't played since November 16th, but said during the telecast of the Wizards/Cavaliers game last week that he was all set to make his season debut that night, unannounced, before team doctors changed his plans at the last minute. Arenas told the Washington Post, "A hyped game will actually get me out there." Well, it figures to be a playoff atmosphere in the Amway Arena tonight, and I'm sure Gilbert would love to pop-off for about 40 points in a Wizards victory just to showcase his swag. UPDATE: Bold 'N' Blue passes along word that Arenas is out tonight.
Tipoff's at 7 on FSN Florida, luckily enough; if the Wizards are wearing their Duracel-inspired gold uniforms, we're better off not seeing the game.
UPDATE: Bullets Forever has its game preview up. Pradamaster is afraid of the Magic:
Let's not mince words, they're a contender: The Magic officially scare me.
They've won eight of their last nine, all in blowout fashion. Sure, none of those wins were against a good team (except Cleveland), but they have been blowouts, which is how good teams are separated from mediocre teams. They've improved their defense, surrendering over 100 points only three times during the stretch. That officially makes them tough, because offensively, they're easily the best team in the Eastern Conference, and as the best shooting team, they can burn you no matter how well you guard them.