|Dwyane Wade||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Ricky Davis||SG||Keith Bogans|
|Dorell Wright||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Udonis Haslem||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Earl Barron||C||Dwight Howard|
The Heat are having a truly awful season. Just two years after winning the NBA title, the Heat are dead last in the Eastern Conference and will have to go 33-20 the rest of the way just to reach .500 at season's end, which might earn them a playoff berth. On top of that, they've lost backup center Alonzo Mourning to a career-ending knee injury and backup guard
William "Smush" Parker to a career-ending case of mental flatulence. Shaq might take his annual injury vacation due to sore hips. Starting guard Jason Williams has a sore knee. Chris Quinn, Williams' backup, has a sprained left ankle and may not be available tonight. Yes, the Heat indeed may be without a true point guard tonight. But look on the bright side, Heat fans: as Ira Winderman notes (thirteenth bullet), your team has five centers under contract this season. Hooray!
The Magic should indeed be heavily favored in this game, but they can't afford to overlook any opponent, especially one that fields a starting five which includes Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. And as boneheaded as Ricky Davis is, he's also a threat to pop off for 40 points at least once a season. Yahoo!'s Kelly Dwyer looks at the Heat's most recent loss, a 96-85 setback in Philadelphia, and concludes that Pat Riley the coach deserves just as much of the criticism as Pat Riley the GM. Basically, they're better than their record lets on, and perhaps they'd be more successful with a different coach. It should be noted that the Heat are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Is that impressive? Lord, no, but it's also one game better than our 3-7 mark in that same span.
We handled the Heat fairly well the last time we matched up with them; in fact, it might have been our best game of the season. Basically, the Heat don't have anyone who can shut down both Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Also, Shaq is too slow and too old to hang with Dwight Howard defensively, although he played well on the offensive end (20 points, 8-15 FG) against Dwight in November.
The game is on FSN Florida, which means most of us won't get to see it. Thank you, NBA Audio League Pass.
UPDATE: Shaquille O'Neal is active for tonight's game, but will not start, reports ESPN.com.