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Tonight's Game: Miami Heat at Orlando Magic

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2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Miami Heat alternate logo
@
Orlando Magic 20th anniversary logo
29-25 40-14
February 22nd, 2009
Amway Arena
5:30 PM
FSN Florida HD / ESPN
Probable starters:
Mario Chalmers PG Rafer Alston
Dwyane Wade SG Courtney Lee
Yakhouba Diawara SF Hedo Turkoglu
Udonis Haslem PF Rashard Lewis
Jermaine O'Neal C Dwight Howard
Previous Meetings:
January 2nd: Magic 86, Heat 76
January 24th: Heat 103, Magic 97

I want to pay very close attention to tonight's game between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat, especially considering that these two teams might end up meeting in the first round of the playoffs. Also, the Orlando Sentinel Reports that newly acquired point guard Rafer Alston is slated to make his first start for the Magic after coming off the bench in Friday's game. Here are some questions I hope tonight's game will answer:

  • Can Dwight Howard, who has averaged 18.5 points per game on 68.2% shooting against Miami this season, continue to be effective even against their newly acquired, defensive-oriented center, Jermaine O'Neal?

  • Will Alston be able to slow down the Heat's rookie point guard, Mario Chalmers, who blitzed Jameer Nelson for 20 points, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers when these two teams last met?

  • More importantly, can Alston keep Orlando's offense running smoothly against the Heat, who force turnovers at the league's second-best rate?

  • Can the Magic's second unit reprise its strong performance against Charlotte?

  • Can Courtney Lee keep Dwyane Wade out of the lane and off the foul line?

  • Will Rashard Lewis' sore neck, suffered after taking an elbow from Howard in the game at Charlotte, affect his sizzling three-point shooting against the Heat? Lewis is 7-of-13 on three-pointers against Miami this season.

  • Will the Magic's one day of rest give them an advantage over the Heat, who will be playing their second game in as many afternoons? Ed. note: Miami is 5-5 in the second games of back-to-back sets this season, and has won five of its last six such games.

Feel free to add your own questions in the comments. Hopefully the 5:30 tip-time won't disrupt the home team's routine. A victory would give Orlando its first winning streak during the month of February; it's alternated wins and losses in 9 games this month. Break the cycle. Go Magic.