UPDATE 2: Nevermind. Mickael Pietrus checked into the game in the first quarter. He's back, folks.
UPDATE: Although he's not expected to play tonight, Mickael Pietrus will be activated and in-uniform for tonight's game, according to Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel.
And although this news isn't necessarily relevant to tonight's game, it's my favorite oddball NBA story from this season, so I'm including it: the Pacers are growing mustaches. They're an easy team for me to root for, as long as they aren't playing the Magic, anyway.
|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|January 27th, 2009|
|FSN Florida HD|
|T.J. Ford||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Jarrett Jack||SG||Courtney Lee|
|Mike Dunleavy||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Danny Granger||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Troy Murphy||C||Dwight Howard|
|November 21st: Magic 100, Pacers 98|
|November 29th: Magic 110, Pacers 96|
The Indiana Pacers may be healthy again, but they shouldn't be too happy about having to face the Orlando Magic tonight. Orlando has lost two consecutive games for the first time since it started the season 0-2, and thus figures to be well motivated. In their losing streak, the Magic's defense has been embarrassingly lax, yielding 116.3 points per 100 possessions. Although they smothered the Pacers in their first two meetings with them this season, yielding only 96 points per 100 possessions, Indiana was without Mike Dunleavy, its second leading scorer last year.
Indeed, defense should be the Magic's top priority tonight, especially because the Pacers are not equipped to stop the Magic, in any capacity. They allow opponents to shoot well, they don't force many turnovers (although they do a better job at that than the Magic do), and they are foul-prone. I expect big games from Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis tonight. Jameer Nelson will likely spend some time matched up with reserve point guard T.J. Ford, whom he torched in the playoffs last season when Ford was still a Toronto Raptor, so he may be in for a big game himself.
There are no excuses tonight. With the right approach, the Magic should win this game with relative ease. They will lose, however, if they're looking ahead to Thursday's nationally televised matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.