At Full Strength
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus takes a look at the top contenders in the NBA, including the Orlando Magic, to see how they have performed "at full strength and with various key players out of the lineup."
The Magic has actually been better this season when short-handed than when at full strength. That fact probably owes largely to the fact that Jameer Nelson was a shell of his healthy self when he returned from arthroscopic knee surgery in late December. Orlando was rolling without Nelson, and now that he's playing better basketball--reaching double-figures scoring in his last eight games and averaging 6.7 assists per game in February--the Magic has returned to that same level, posting a +7.6 adjusted differential in the month.
9. Buyout For Battie?
Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com reports that Tony Battie's contract may be bought out by the New Jersey Nets. On Saturday, my colleague Ben wrote about the possibility of Battie joining the Magic strictly as a locker room presence and practice player.
Will Battie accept a buyout to win?
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk has more on Battie's situation.
More after the jump.
Howard Adds to His Milestones
Benjamin Hoffman of Off the Dribble looks at what Dwight Howard has accomplished lately.
Chat Live With Dwight Howard Tomorrow Night
Aron Phillips of Dime Magazine shares some exciting news.
[...] tune in to www.eastbay.com/adidas tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2 at 7:00pm EST to ask questions and view Dwight’s live responses via video, and check back often. Word from our friends at adidas is that the NOW portal will host more athletes, product designers and athletic trainers in the coming weeks and months for live chats and Q&A sessions.
The Dwight Howard foul trouble dilemma continues, opens up time for Marcin Gortat
Dwyane Wade offers advice to Howard in last night's game.
After Howard committed his fifth foul, he held the basketball in his palm looked like he wanted to launch it into Amway Arena’s upper deck.
That’s when Dwyane Wade gave him some advice.
You don’t want to lose any money. You get frustrated, just take it out on the next opponent.
"He made a good point," Howard said. "At one point I felt like taking the ball and tossing it to planet Krypton. Just had to look at the big picture."
Obviously, Howard’s performance is no cause for alarm. Howard didn’t have a good night, handcuffed by foul trouble, and the rest of his team picked him up so the Magic still beat the Heat.
Polish Hammer Serves as Dwight Howard's Psychic
UPDATE: Marcin Gortat speaks fondly of Howard.
"I've been around Dwight since I was drafted in 2005, in summer league, preseason, regular season, playoffs, the China trip, for so long,'' Gortat said. "I know everything about this guy. I know when he's focused, and when he's not. You have to be ready for anything. I know when he wants to hit me, or hurt me in practice. I know when he wants to play around. I know him.''
How Shaq's Injury Might Affect Playoffs
UPDATE 2: Matt Moore of NBA FanHouse takes a look at how Shaquille O'Neal's injury may affect the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs, especially if the team plays the Magic at some point.
Orlando Magic: The worst-case scenario. The Cavs likely not only plan to go through Orlando on their way to the Finals, but want to do it, to avenge last year. But of all the reasons Shaquille O'Neal was brought in, number one was to shut down, or at least hamper, Dwight Howard. Howard's presence last year in the Conference Finals not only killed them inside, drawing fouls, getting buckets and rebounds, but more importantly, it opened up the offense on the outside, drawing defenders away from the perimeter, which allowed things like Rashard Lewis mowing them down like he had an Uzi. Running into a motivated, opportunistic Orlando club in the second round, even with new stretch-four addition Antawn Jamison without O'Neal would be pretty bad luck, and is Cleveland's best chance of getting ousted on its way to the Finals. Keeping Orlando out of their bracket till the East Finals is something the Cavs won't consider (insert cliche about "just winning and not paying attention to anything else" here), but it's something they should. Fear Factor: 5