|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|December 19th, 2009|
|FSN Florida / NBA TV|
|Andre Miller||PG||Jason Williams|
|Brandon Roy||SG||Vince Carter|
|Martell Webster||SF||Mickael Pietrus|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Joel Przybilla||C||Dwight Howard|
The Orlando Magic, losers of 3 of their last 5, will look to snap out of their funk against the ailing Portland Trail Blazers. The NBA's lone Pacific Northwest team is so banged-up that it was allowed a special exception to add a 16th player, Anthony Tolliver.
The silver lining in light of the injuries is the emergence of second-year combo guard Jerryd Bayless, who hardly played with everyone else healthy. He's quick, crafty, and able to get to the basket with ease. He also averages 3.6 free-throws per game, in just 12.2 minutes per game. He draws fouls on 23.6% of his shooting possessions, which is just silly, to use a technical term.
Orlando will also have to contend with free-agent signee Andre Miller, who's finally wrested the starting point guard job from Steve Blake. Miller played well against the Magic as a Philadelphia 76er in last year's playoffs, and gives them trouble in general. Throw in the daunting task of slowing Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge and you've got a tough assignment on your hands.
One factor may tip the scales in Orlando's favor tonight, and it's depth, to no one's surprise. In the Blazers' last game, their four bench players were Bayless; Steve Blake; Juwan Howard who's still in the league, if you can believe it; and Dante Cunningham, who played only 4 minutes. Blake's a career backup and three guys who couldn't sniff the rotation at the start of the season. (Partly because rotations don't smell like anything, but you see my point). If Howard can get Portland's bigs in foul trouble, it might be forced to play small, with Aldridge at center flanked with four guards, or three guards plus three-point sniping forward Martell Webster. It goes both ways, though. Starting center Joel Przybilla's defended Hoard well in the past, and isn't above flopping or pulling the chair out from under him. We all know how much such tactics annoy Howard and limit his effectiveness, so that's another thing to watch for.
Tipoff's in a scant half hour, at 7 eastern. I'm at The Am for the first time since this summer's NBA Finals, so I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. If there's anything you'd like me to ask post-game, hit me up on Twitter @BQRMagic.