|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|March 30th, 2009|
|American Airlines Arena|
|Rafer Alston||PG||Mario Chalmers|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Dwyane Wade|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Jamario Moon|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Udonis Haslem|
|Dwight Howard||C||Jermaine O'Neal|
|January 2nd: Magic 86, Heat 76|
|January 24th: Heat 103, Magic 97|
|February 22nd: Magic 122, Heat 99|
Another Monday, another Orlando Magic game during which their opponent will honor a former center. A week after the Magic upstaged the New York Knicks on their Legend Awards Night, they'll head south to Miami, where the Heat will retire the jersey of Alonzo Mourning. It's the Heat's first jersey-retirement for one of their own players, and third overall, as they also retired jerseys to honor Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and all-time NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Dwight Howard vs. Jermaine O'Neal. Uh, can't see that ending in the Heat's favor.
Indeed, O'Neal has struggled since joining the Heat in a mid-season trade from the Toronto Raptors, rebounding at a rate more befitting for a guard than a center. And although he's regarded as one of the league's best defensive centers, he's had more trouble than most handling Dwight Howard this season. In three head-to-head matchups against O'Neal this season, Dwight has averaged 26.3 points and 13.3 rebounds on 62.8% shooting.
All this talk about Howard's dominance neglects the way in which Heat guard Dwyane Wade has torn the Magic apart this season: so far, 36.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 37.3 minutes, on 55% shooting from the field. Maybe that's why my colleague erivera7 predicted the Magic will lose tonight.
As we've seen, the Magic can endure even when Wade goes nova. In their lone loss to the Heat this year, Miami got significant contributions from its role players; Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley, and Chris Quinn combined for 40 points. Limiting Wade's weak supporting cast is one way to increase the odds of victory against the Heat. Making him shoot jumpers is another, although that's much more easily said than done.
Tip's at 7:30 on Sun Sports. To accomadate the ceremony, halftime will be an unbearably long 24 minutes, so I imagine there'll be even more to talk about here in the GameThread. Go Magic.