Th Orlando Magic will attempt to head into the NBA All-Star break on a high note tonight when the visit the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs handed Orlando its worst home defeat of the season way back in November, own the league's best record, and have won 12 straight games. In LeBron James, they have the best player on the planet. And to round things out, Orlando will be playing its 5th game in 7 nights, with Cleveland having only played 3 in the same span. With all that being said, the Magic can still point toward the Eastern Conference Champions banner that hangs in Amway Arena as proof that they can beat the Cavs with the deck stacked against them.
|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|February 11th, 2010|
|Quicken Loans Arena|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Daniel Gibson|
|Vince Carter||SG||Anthony Parker|
|Matt Barnes||SF||LeBron James|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||J.J. Hickson|
|Dwight Howard||C||Shaquille O'Neal|
|November 11th: Cavaliers 102, Magic 93|
|Eddie F. Rush|
Eddy set you up pretty nicely earlier today with his What They're Saying post and interview with John Krolik. I'll add that, for all the doubts about Shaquille O'Neal's ability to mesh with the Cavs once they acquired him last summer, he's been solid, and is making an impact on both ends of the floor. John Schuhmann did some research and can tell you just how much of an impact.
I don't expect Orlando to win tonight, altough it has played well lately. And given the Magic's 10-2 record in their last 12 games, I doubt anyone would fault them for losing tonight. Really. But I do expect Rashard Lewis and, to a lesser extent, Ryan Anderson (shooting 15% from three-point range in his last 9 games), to give the Cavs some problems offensively. Neither was available in the November bloodbath, leaving the Magic with only Brandon Bass at power forward. We've seen what Lewis, Antawn Jamison, and other jump-shooting power forwards have vexed Cleveland in recent years.
Point guard Mo Williams, who bombarded the Magic for 28 points without being assisted on any of his 12 field goals in the first meeting between these teams, is out. For what it's worth.