The Orlando Magic begin the toughest portion of their schedule this evening with a visit to the Rose Garden to take on the struggling Portland Trail Blazers. Orlando dropped its last two games due to poor offense, perhaps a result of not having pick-and-roll operator Jameer Nelson available to run the offense. But Nelson's recovered from the stomach bug which sidelined him for the last week and is ready to start tonight against a Portland team on the upswing, as it's won its last two games, albeit against two of the worst defensive teams in the league.
The streak started last week with a chippy win over the Los Angeles Clippers in which ironman point guard Andre Miller charged Clippers forward Blake Griffin, earning a one-game suspension which ended his consecutive games-played streak at 624. Dave from sister-site Blazersedge believes Miller was right to stick up for teammate Joel Przybilla, whom Clippers forward Brian Cook flagrantly fouled just moments earlier, and says Miller's on the mark for criticizing the league for being "soft."
Miller's having the year of his life, but Portland is at its best when All-Star two-guard Brandon Roy is running the show. Unfortunately, damage to his left knee has dramatically altered the way he plays and reduced his effectiveness; ESPN Insider John Hollinger explained Roy's problems in his wider look at Portland's rough year:
The All-Star guard's true shooting percentage has dropped from 56.8 to 52.9, and as the team's second-most frequent shooter that's gonna leave a mark. Additionally, he's barely averaging half as many assists per minute as a year ago, so secondary players aren't getting the easy looks that he used to locate for them.
As Hollinger explains, the Trail Blazers still play coach Nate McMillan's preferred style, which is to walk the ball up and control the pace by maximizing offensive rebound opportunities and minimizing turnovers. The key to that strategy, really, is good shooting, but Portand just isn't making shots like it used to. As Orlando rates among the league's best defensive rebounding squads, it's important for the Magic to limit the Blazers to one shot attempt per possession. They're a mediocre defensive team, so if the Magic can keep their offense under control, Orlando should indeed come away with a win.
One Blazer to watch tonight, apart from Roy, is free-agent signee Wesley Matthews. The undrafted second-year man has scored at least 23 points in five of his last six games. Between him and Roy, the Magic's perimeter defense will have its hands full tonight.
TNT's Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Mike Fratello have the call tonight, with David Aldridge reporting from the sidelines. That's an ace crew, and I hope you'll tune in for tipoff at 10:30 PM Eastern.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|15-6 (6-3 road) |
|10-11 (6-3 home) |
|December 9th, 2010|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Andre Miller|
|Vince Carter||SG||Brandon Roy|
|Quentin Richardson||SF||Wesley Matthews|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||LaMarcus Aldridge|
|Dwight Howard||C||Marcus Camby|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|91.1 (20th)||Pace||88.7 (30th)|
|107.0 (13th)||ORtg||106.8 (14th)|
|99.7 (2nd)||DRtg||107.3 (16th)|