The Orlando Magic will try to start the second half of their schedule right when they host the Indiana Pacers tonight at Amway Arena. The Magic are mired in their second three-game losing streak of the season and their recent play has rendered their 17-4 start virtually meaningless. Even the most optimistic of Magic fans would tell you their team isn't playing championship-caliber ball. A win, any win, would give Orlando a shot in the arm and potentially get it back on track. So what are the Magic's odds this evening?
|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|January 20th, 2010|
|Earl Watson||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Brandon Rush||SG||Vince Carter|
|Danny Granger||SF||Matt Barnes|
|Troy Murphy||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Roy Hibbert||C||Dwight Howard|
|December 14th: Magic 106, Pacers 98|
|January 5th: Pacers 97, Magic 90|
Based solely on the Pacers' record and talent level, you're probably tempted to say "pretty good." But just two weeks ago, Indiana became one of the several teams to defeat the Magic despite missing at least one of its key players, due largely to middling guys stepping up to have great games. In that instance, it was All-Star small forward Danny Granger sitting out, with Roy Hibbert (a career-high 26 points, which he broke earlier this week against the Hornets) and Luther Head (18 points off the bench) delivering. Meanwhile, Magic stars Dwight Howard (11 points) and Vince Carter (6 points, 2-of-15 shooting) played well below their potential. And so the season has gone.
I'm running out of things to say about the Magic's slump. Really. Carter's shooting terribly, Howard's not involved enough in the offense, none of the starters save for Matt Barnes plays hard consistently... etc. It's the same old story. And I'd really like for it to change, and soon, before I wind up copy-and-pasting my game recaps. So there's your sophisticated analysis.
No, but seriously, Indiana's a terrible team, with the second-worst point differential in the Eastern Conference; only the beyond-hopeless New Jersey Nets, who are a serious threat to break the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers' record for fewest wins in a season, are worse. The Pacers, as the league's second-fastest team, like to run, and I'm sure they like to score, but they just don't do it efficiently: they're 27th in offensive rating. If Orlando can limit its turnovers (and, consequently, the Pacers' fast-break game) and control the boards, it should win handily.
Tipoff's at 7, as usual for home games.