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Tonight's Game: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Washington Wizards main logo
Orlando Magic main logo
0-4 3-2
November 8th, 2008
Amway Arena
7:00 PM
FSN Florida
Probable starters:
Juan Dixon PG Jameer Nelson
DeShawn Stevenson SG Mickael Pietrus
Caron Butler SF Hedo Turkoglu
Antawn Jamison PF Rashard Lewis
Etan Thomas C Dwight Howard

UPDATE 3: Juan Dixon replaced Antonio Daniels in the Wizards' starting lineup. I updated the lineup chart to reflect the change.

UPDATE 2: J.J. Redick is healthy enough to play tonight and will be available, reports John Denton. J.J. was active for Thursday's game against Philadelphia, but not available to play because he strained a tendon in his foot during pregame warm-ups.

UPDATE: I did a Q-and-A about tonight's game with Truth About It. Check it out. Also, Brian Schmitz reports Stan Van Gundy will go with an eight-man rotation for the foreseeable future. So much for developing depth.

The Washington Wizards are a bit of a mess right now. Their starting point guard, Gilbert Arenas, is out. Again. Their starting center, Brendan Haywood, could miss the whole season with a hand injury, leaving them with only Etan Thomas (who missed all of last season to recover from a heart ailment), Andray Blatche (who is... erratic... to say the least), and JaVale McGee (who is a rookie) to man the pivot. Despite having Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, two All-Star forwards, in their lineup, as a team they struggle to do anything well. Entering last night's game with New York, the Wiz were 21st in eFG%, 22nd in offensive rebound rate, 26th in defensive efficiency, 27th in eFG% defense, and 22nd in defensive rebound rate. Were it not for their uncanny ability to get to the foul line--having Butler on your team really helps in that regard--they'd be an unmitigated disaster on offense. Unsilent Majority thinks coach Eddie Jordan, the longest-tenured helmsman in the Eastern Conference, needs to be dismissed. Pradamaster of Bullets Forever, SB Nation's Wizards blog, summed up last night's loss to the Knicks by saying, "We all stink. Everyone." It is, indeed, an unenviable situation in D.C.

As long as the Orlando Magic keep either Butler and Jamison in check (har har har), they shouldn't have much trouble winning this game. Despite their team's rough go of it so far, they are posting solid individual numbers. Ideally, Mickael Pietrus would defend Butler and Rashard Lewis would defend Jamison, leaving Hedo Turkoglu to defend DeShawn Stevenson. Butler does a great job drawing fouls, and Pietrus is a bit foul-happy, so we could see plenty of Keith Bogans tonight. Fine by me, I suppose; KeBo's defense has been above-average this season, and his rebounding (4.2 in 23.6 minutes) is a welcome surprise.

If the game gets out of hand--which it certainly might, and most likely in Orlando's favor--the Magic could dust off Brian Cook, Marcin Gortat, Courtney Lee, and J.J. Redick. Again, fine by me. They all need more playing time, especially the latter two; they need to get in-rhythym and boost their confidence. Or maybe I just believe too much in intangibles.

But let's not be too hubristic here; the Magic dropped a game last spring to a similarly incapacitated Wizards squad merely because nobody save for Hedo Turkoglu, who finished with a career-high 39 points, could not shoot straight; meanwhile, Jamison went bonkers with 31 points on 21 shots. Then again, if they run their offense against Washington the way they did against Philadelphia on Thursday, they'll get plenty of good looks at the basket.

Tip's at 7 on FSN Florida, which means most Magic fans in Orlando won't be able to watch the game at home. Ridiculous.