|2008/2009 NBA Preseason|
|October 18th, 2008|
|Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Marcus Banks|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Dwyane Wade|
|Mickael Pietrus||SF||Shawn Marion|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Udonis Haslem|
|Dwight Howard||C||Mark Blount|
UPDATED: In a shocking twist, rookie Courtney Lee will start tonight for Orlando, says John Denton. Hedo Turkoglu will sit out, as expected, with a strained groin.
Tonight, the Orlando Magic travel north to visit the Miami Heat. That's not a misprint: tonight's game is in Jacksonville and the Heat are the designated home team, even though Orlando is closer to Jacksonville than Miami is. Whatever. It's the preseason. At least Magic GM Otis Smith, born in Jacksonville and a graduate of Jacksonville University, gets an excuse to go home, assuming he's back from his preseason scouting trip.
Injuries have taken their tolls on both teams. Orlando's Tony Battie, Anthony Johnson, and Hedo Turkoglu are day-to-day, Jameer Nelson has a nagging foot injury, and Mike Wilks is out for the year after shredding his knee against Charlotte; Miami's Jamaal Magloire and James Jones are expected to miss several months, and Jason Richards will also miss the season after sustaining a knee injury.
And the Washington Wizards, who will likely be without three regular starters when the regular season begins, just shake their heads and wish they were as luck as the Magic and the Heat. Just some perspective. It could be much worse.
More thoughts about tonight's game, including a Heat/Magic trade proposal, after the jump.
It's a shame that these two teams are in-state rivals with bad blood between them, because they'd make fantastic trade partners. Orlando's biggest issue heading into this season appears to be rebounding, despite having Dwight Howard, last year's rebounding champion, manning the pivot. Miami's glaring flaw, meanwhile, is shooting, especially since three-point specialist James Jones will miss at least three months with a ruptured tendon in his shooting hand.
I think you see where I'm headed.
In theory, a swap of Udonis Haslem for Brian Cook and Keith Bogans works. Haslem gives the Magic rebounding and veteran savvy, while Cook gives the Heat a tall three-point shooter who can space the floor for Dwyane Wade to drive. Bogans, another three-point specialist, provides above-average defense at his position as an additional benefit. In practice, however... we'll never know, because until Pat Riley leaves the Heat organization entirely, Stan Van Gundy and the Magic aren't going to place any calls to him.
But I digress. Tonight's game itself might be of particularly little consequence, even by preseason standards. The teams are so injury-riddled that they're unlikely to risk playing their stars for heavy minutes, which means we could very well
see hear a lot about Dwayne Jones battling David Padgett for rebounding position, or about J.J. Redick trying to take Daequan Cook off the dribble.
Yeah, maybe it's best this game isn't televised after all.