The Orlando Magic and the Milwaukee Bucks are set to square off tonight in a battle of two teams on a bit of a role. Orlando's won 6 of its last 7 games to claim the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference, while Milwaukee's won 3 in a row, and the loss preceding that streak was by a single point to the Dallas Mavericks, in Dallas. The Bucks' mini hot streak has them just 2 games back of Miami for the East's final playoff spot.
|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|February 2nd, 2010|
|Fox Sports Florida|
|Brandon Jennings||PG||Jason Williams|
|Charlie Bell||SG||Vince Carter|
|Carlos Delfino||SF||Matt Barnes|
|Luc Richard Mbah a Moute||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Andrew Bogut||C||Dwight Howard|
|November 28th: Magic 100, Bucks 98|
|December 30th: Magic 117, Bucks 92|
With all that said, the factors at play here seem to favor the Magic, who've had one day of rest and boast an 18-4 record at Amway Arena, as opposed to the Bucks, who played in Miami last night and have a 5-18 road record... and 4 of those wins came against lottery-bound teams: Minnesota, Indiana, New Jersey, and Golden State. Then again, the Bucks' 7th-ranked defense can dig in at any time and keep them in the game, even if their shots aren't falling, which is why Orlando has to exercise caution. Against Washington, Indiana, and Chicago, Orlando showed us what can happen if it takes its opponent too lightly.
Pay attention to how Orlando tries to get Dwight Howard and Vince Carter going. Carter scored 25 points in each of Orlando's last 2 meetings with Milwaukee, while Howard has historically played well against Bucks center Andrew Bogut, one of the league's better defenders at that position. Also, keep an eye on coach Stan Van Gundy's rotations. Mickael Pietrus is out with a sore right ankle, which leaves Orlando with only Matt Barnes to play small forward. Carter and Rashard Lewis could slide up or down, respectively, to cover for Pietrus, but that arrangement is less than ideal. Also, if Jameer Nelson can't go--he's a game-time decision--Jason Williams will have to start. Williams provided a key spark off the bench in Orlando's last game against the Bucks, so the task might fall to Anthony Johnson to do the same tonight. Finally, Van Gundy might pry Brandon Bass--who's played 13 minutes in the last 2 weeks' worth of games--off the bench to defend Hakim Warrick, who's much too quick and athletic for either of the Magic's top two power forwards to cover.