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Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Orlando Magic main logo
Miami Heat main logo
54-18 39-34
March 30th, 2009
American Airlines Arena
7:30 PM
Sun Sports
Probable starters:
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
Previous Meetings:
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.

Ira Winderman has the guest-list, and in a separate post, succinctly explains why he believes the Heat will lose on their special night:

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.