Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic vs. Golden State Warriors

Orlando Magic main logo
vs.
Golden State Warriors main logo
40-23
38-23
Amway Arena
7:00 PM
Sun Sports HD
Probable starters:
Jameer Nelson PG Baron Davis
Maurice Evans SG Monta Ellis
Hedo Turkoglu SF Mickael Pietrus
Rashard Lewis PF Stephen Jackson
Dwight Howard C Andris Biedrins
Season series:
3 Dec 2007: Magic 123, Warriors 117

The Warriors visit the Amway Arena tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, having blown out the Heat last night by a final score of 134-99. The Heat, with only seven healthy players, stood no chance against the league's second-fastest team.

We, meanwhile, enter the game fresh off two days of rest. We'll need it tonight. The Warriors, as noted in the previous paragraph, love to run. They also hate to play defense, paying no real attention to that aspect of the game. They're also not good on the glass, which is why I think Dwight Howard has a legitimate shot at reaching 20 rebounds tonight. It's not like I'm going out on a limb here; he had 24 rebounds in our first matchup with the Dubs this season and averaged 19 per game against them last season.

Dwight has a chance to do much more than that, though. The Warriors have no one who can guard him. 40 points isn't out of the question for him, either. However, we need his defense more than we need his offense tonight. If he protects the paint like he did in our last meeting, in which he blocked seven shots, the Warriors will have no choice but to shoot three-pointers. They hoisted 40 -- 40! -- triples last time out, and only hit nine. Golden State is vulnerable to bouts of inefficiency and complacency, and we absolutely need to capitalize on that.

Unfortunately for us, Golden State has no shortage of 40-point candidates. We're ill-equipped to defend point guard Baron Davis, who has the combination of size and strength that vexes both Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo. Meanwhile, Davis' backcourt-mate, Monta Ellis, has gone absolutely ballistic since the All-Star Break. Take a look at these freakish numbers: 24.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 steals on 55% shooting... and he hasn't made a single three-pointer in that stretch. He gets to the basket seemingly at will. I hope Keyon Dooling has recovered from his sprained left foot in time to play tonight. He's our best shot at slowing Monta.

We can't discount Stephen Jackson, either. Jackson shoots the ball with little consideration of the situation, which has worked well for him and for Golden State since it acquired him from Indiana in January 2007. If there's any player in the league who exemplifies the "no conscience" cliche, it's Jackson. He went 5-of-7 from downtown last night, so hopefully he got the hot-shooting out of his system. Also, he's an underrated defender, so Hedo Turkoglu is really going to have to earn his points tonight.

One final Warrior to watch: Brandan Wright. The 6'8" forward acquired from Charlotte on draft-night for Jason Richardson is finally playing consistent minutes, and he's producing solidly. Wright is long, tall, and athletic, the perfect power forward for Warriors coach Don Nelson's offensive system. If called upon tonight, Wright may well put up Paul Millsap-like numbers against us, which bodes ill. In case you need a reminder, the grisly details of that evening against the Jazz are here.

Requisite J.J. Redick mention: Brian Schmitz informs us that tonight will be our last chance to see J.J. for a while, as he will leave the team after tonight's game so he can spend time with his younger brother, who will undergo surgery to remove a tumor on Monday. Obviously, our thoughts are with J.J. and his family, and we hope David Redick makes a speedy recovery.

First team to 110 points wins. As usual, post your pre-, in-, and post-game comments in this thread. Check out Golden State of Mind for some Warriors perspective. Their Q-and-A with me should be up later in the day is up now. Dig it.

Go Magic.

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