Having played only two games in the last thirteen days, and none in the last four, the Orlando Magic will look to exploit a ragged, overmatched Minnesota Timberwolves squad tonight at Amway Center. The Wolves are coming off a decisive defeat to the Miami Heat last night, one in which they could neither keep Dwyane Wade out of the paint or bottle up Miami's transition offense. Worse, they lost second-leading scorer Michael Beasley after 11 minutes following a hard fall he took, bruising his left hip and rendering him a game-time decision tonight. Should Beasley be unable to go, rookie Wesley Johnson will presumably take his place.
Minnesota's a tough matchup for the Magic, however, as coach Stan Van Gundy explained after shootaround. Kevin Love and Darko Milicic form a tall, physical front, it's among the league's best rebounding teams, and it gets out on the break with regularity. The key for Orlando is limiting the Wolves' possessions to one scoring opportunity, because in the halfcourt, Minnesota has precious few offensive options.
Offensively, Orlando shouldn't have much trouble, and I don't anticipate the Wolves' perimeter defense to offer much resistance to the likes of Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis on the drive.
UPDATE: via Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse, Beasley indeed expects to play, though coach Kurt Rambis has yet to give any official word on the subject.
UPDATE 2: Rambis just met with the media and said Beasley is "doubtful" tonight. Johnson will start at small forward, with Corey Brewer getting the nod at shooting guard, says the Wolves' official Twitter account.
UPDATE 3: The lineup shakeups aren't limited to the Timberwolves. Per Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com, the Magic will start Ryan Anderson at power forward and shift Rashard Lewis to small forward against Minnesota. While surprising--Anderson hasn't started a game for Orlando with Lewis available, ever--the move makes sense. In two wins over Minnesota last year, Anderson scored 35 points in 43 minutes off the bench and shot 7-of-19 from three-point range. He also pulls Love, the rebound magnet, away from the basket.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|1-3 (0-2 road)
|1-1 (1-0 home)
|November 3rd, 2010|
|Luke Ridnour||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Corey Brewer||SG||Vince Carter|
|Wesley Johnson||SF||Rashard Lewis|
|Kevin Love||PF||Ryan Anderson|
|Darko Milicic||C||Dwight Howard|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|102.5 (1st)||Pace||93.9 (18th)|
|97.1 (27th)||ORtg||97.0 (T-28th)|
|107.3 (17th)||DRtg||95.4 (3rd)|