|Carlos Arroyo||PG||Jose Juan Barea|
|Maurice Evans||SG||Eddie Jones|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Josh Howard|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Dirk Nowitzki|
|Dwight Howard||C||Erick Dampier|
Through a scheduling coincidence, Dallas is on the last game of a four-game set in which it faces the East's three division-leading teams. So far, the Mavericks haven't fared so well. They dropped a 96-90 decision to the Celtics on Thursday and got walloped, 90-67, by the Pistons yesterday. We'll try to hand the Mavericks just their second three-game losing streak of the season.
It won't be easy. Dallas is a team against which we don't match-up well. Dirk Nowitzki is a small forward in a center's body, and arguably the league's toughest player to guard because of his size and skill-set; he dropped 31 points against us in our first meeting with the Mavericks this season, a 111-108 Dallas victory which was only made close by a furious late fourth-quarter rally. Check the GameFlow for a good illustration of that.
The key to this win? Defense. The Magic surrendered offensive ratings of 116.4 to the 76ers and 119.4 to the Pacers, well above those teams' respective season averages of 104.6 and 108.1. Dallas is second only to Phoenix in offensive efficiency, so a poor defensive effort on our part is going to result in embarrassment. I'm not too optimistic about winning this one. Dirk is too much for us to handle, and the Mavericks will be extra motivated to beat us after getting blown-out on national TV.
Devin Harris, the club's usual starting point guard, is injured. As such, Jason Terry has shifted to point guard and Eddie Jones -- yes, that Eddie Jones, he's still in the league -- has taken the starting two-guard spot. Maybe we can goad him into throwing some more inbounds passes to his invisible teammate.
slaughter game is at 7 on FSN. As always, you can listen to NBA games for free with NBA Audio League Pass. For your Mavericks fix, check out Mavs Moneyball. Go Magic.
UPDATE: Jose Juan Barea is starting at PG for Dallas.