|2008/2009 NBA Preseason
|October 22nd, 2008
It'll be interesting to see how the Orlando Magic handle their preseason game against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. On the one hand, this game is the last one of the regular season and it comes against an opponent the Magic will face in a little over a week, so they may want to work hard and earn a win; on the other hand, a ton of players are nursing nagging injuries and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy may want to give them a rest lest they hurt themselves more. Tony Battie (finger) and Hedo Turkoglu (groin) will likely be held out as a precaution (UPDATE: Turk is good to go, according to Kyle Hightower); what coach Stan decides to do about Jameer Nelson (hand) and Rashard Lewis (finger) remains to be seen.
The Grizz may be an awful team that's awfully tired, having played last night in Miami (playing back-to-back games during the preseason? Yuck), but they're also flush with young talent. Rookie guard O.J. Mayo can get hot from three-point land, and forward Rudy Gay is coming into his own as an All-Star-caliber player; he might not play tonight, though, as he battles a staph infection. They have the talent to hang with most teams most nights. The issue is whether they have the mentality to hang in there when the going gets tough. Don't sleep on them.
But some teams can get lazy against Memphis and still win. The Grizzlies are a horrible defensive team, especially on the perimeter. Last season, they allowed their opponents to shoot 36.4% from three-point range, and the Magic blistered them with an 18-of-33 performance in January. That pattern of poor D has carried over into this season, as they let Rockets guard Von Wafer, a training-camp invitee, go bananas with 7-of-9 from downtown. BDL has the video. Watch it and imagine Nelson or Anthony Johnson playing the role of Aaron Brooks and Rashard Lewis or J.J. Redick playing the role of Wafer. Cha-ching.
Oh, and the Grizzlies employ that Darko Milicic fellow who used to play for the Magic. 3 Shades of Blue says he didn't do so well in his first year in Memphis; what boggles my mind is the 43.8 shooting from the field. The issue isn't talent as much as it is desire and commitment. Sounds familiar.
Tip's at 7. Go Magic.