Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers

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2009 NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Orlando Magic main logo
vs.
Philadelphia 76ers classic logo
Series tied, 1-1
April 24th, 2009
Wachovia Center
8:00 PM
ESPN 2 / FSN Florida
Probable Starters
Rafer Alston PG Andre Miller
Courtney Lee SG Willie Green
Hedo Turkoglu SF Andre Iguodala
Rashard Lewis PF Thaddeus Young
Dwight Howard C Samuel Dalembert
Game Officials
Monty McCutchen
Jim Clark
Bill Kennedy
Series Central

As one might expect, and as my colleague erivera7 explained yesterday, tonight's game between the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers is crucial for both teams because the victor tonight will likely go on to win the series. Orlando is the superior team, but has yet to dominate offensively due to Philadelphia's strong defense on Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, the Magic's most prolific long-range shooters. Of course, the 76ers' focusing on those players has given rookie guard Courtney Lee multiple opportunities to score, and the result is a 21-points-per-game average in these playoffs, including a career-high 24 in Orlando's bounce-back win on Wednesday. After the game, 76ers players raved about Lee to Orlando Magic Daily:

"Well, we respect him now," [Andre] Miller said of Lee's team-leading 24 points. "We need to put a little more focus on him. He brings confidence; he knows we are going to force him to make plays because we are focusing on Hedo, Rashard and Dwight [Howard]."

[....]

"I think he has that mindset that people don't respect him," Andre Iguodala said. "He's proven us wrong the last two games."

[....]

"We've got to start treating him like one of the big boys," [Louis] Williams said. "It's not just about Dwight, Rashard and Turkoglu anymore."

Despite all the praise of Lee, one gets the impression the 76ers don't mind his shooting the ball. Each shot he takes is one less shot for the more dangerous Howard, Lewis, and Turkoglu, which plays into Philadelphia's hands. If Lee has another off-game tonight, and the Magic can't get any of their starting frontcourt going, Orlando will lose by double-digits.

That's just the thing, though: Turk and Lew have to come around eventually, right? And if they do, the Magic should win running away, right? Magic coach Stan Van Gundy seems to agree, at least with the first point:

"We're just struggling shooting the ball. I've got to think at some point during this series we're actually going to have a good shooting night."

Philadelphia has out-shot Orlando in both games, but lost the last outing due to committing too many turnovers and allowing the Magic too many offensive rebounds. The Magic's stellar transition defense worked wonders, too. I believe the Sixers will be less likely to play sloppily in front of their home crowd, so the Magic can't count on the Sixers to hoist themselves on their own petard with turnovers. The Magic need to play sharper in the half-court; they also need to duplicate the scrappy effort they showed on Wednesday.

Tip's at 8 on ESPN 2 and FSN Florida. If you're in Orlando, you can attend the team's official watch Party. Here are the details, courtesy of the Magic:

Be there this Friday, April 24, at The Clubhouse on East Pine Street in downtown Orlando for the Official Orlando Magic Watch Party presented by T-Mobile. The Magic will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the 2009 NBA Playoffs at 8:00 p.m. Enjoy $10 Bud buckets, $7 pitchers and $3 pints. Magic fans with an Orlando Magic ticket stub from a previous game or Season Ticket Holder ID card will receive 20 percent off of your entire bill. There will be appearances by the Orlando Magic Dancers, Magic JetBlue Crew and Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw.

See you back here before tip. Don't forget to vote for who you believe will lead the Magic in scoring.

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