|Travis Diener||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Kareem Rush||SG||Maurice Evans|
|Mike Dunleavy||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Danny Granger||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Jeff Foster||C||Dwight Howard|
Tonight's game against the Indiana Pacers will be a big test for the Orlando Magic. No, really, I'm serious. The Pacers are on a five-game losing streak; are just 9-12 at home; and are missing Jermaine O'Neal, their All-Star center. They're so bad, Jared from Subway didn't renew his season tickets*. In other words, they're the sort of team to which the Magic find ways to lose games. Recall the Pacers embarrassed us at home in December, which kicked off a streak of games in which the Magic were one of the league's worst defensive teams. Incidentally, the last time we played the Pacers was also the last time we were 12 games above .500... just like we are now. Ominous.
The Pacers, like the Magic, are on the second night of a back-to-back, losing a close one to the Rockets last night, 106-103. But as David Friedman points out, the Pacers did a great job of containing Yao Ming, who scored 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting. But their focus on Yao freed-up Houston's role players, who all had solid games. The night belonged to Carl Landry (?!), who came off the bench to add 22 points. I have no doubt the Pacers can nullify Dwight Howard. But if they focus too much on him, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis could be in for some big nights. Maybe even Brian Cook...?
The bench should be able to come up big for us as well. Pacers' point guards allow opponents to post an 18.2 PER against them, which basically means whomever they guard magically transforms into Jason Terry. Travis Diener, God love him, is not a good defender, and I have no doubt Jameer Nelson can abuse him on his way to the basket all night... provided that his foot is okay.
Sometime before tipoff, be sure to check out Indy Cornrows for more on the Pacers. See you at 7. Go Magic.