|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|December 1st, 2008|
|TD Banknorth Garden|
|NBA TV / Sun Sports|
|Anthony Johnson||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|J.J. Redick||SG||Ray Allen|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Paul Pierce|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Dwight Howard||C||Kendrick Perkins|
Well, it took a little more than a month, but it's finally here: the Orlando Magic's first game against a contending team. Prior to tonight's game, the Magic had not played any team that 100% of sane NBA observers would endorse as legitimately elite. Apologies to the Houston Rockets, of course.
Facing the World Champion Celtics at full strength is tough enough, so imagine the consternation the Magic face at having to Unfortunately, the Magic are well below full strength. Their top three guards--Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus, and Keith Bogans--will all miss tonight's game due to various injuries. Indeed, their backup backcourt of Anthony Johnson and J.J. Redick will have to tangle with the Boston Celtics' first-string backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. Unenviable, to say the least.
Keeping the score respectable should be seen as a net positive. Allen will probably torch Redick, and although rookie Courtney Lee has shown signs of being a well above-average defender, he's still susceptible to picking up dumb fouls. Basically, I'm trying to keep my expectations low so if Orlando manages not to get blown-out, I can look at the game as a net positive.
Tip's at 7:30 on NBA TV nationally and Sun Sports locally. If Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu get it going, maybe the game won't be such a laugher. I don't hold out much hope, though.
Go Magic. Keep it close. Or, even better, win. Upset the champs. Yay!
UPDATE: Here's CelticsBlog's take on the game. The featured matchups are Howard vs. Perkins and Turkoglu vs. Pierce. I'd argue that Johnson vs. Rondo is even more important, at least from Orlando's standpoint. I don't know how Johnson plans to stick to Rondo, one of the league's quickest players, defensively, but he's going to have to give it his all. I'm ridiculously afraid of him.