The Orlando Magic close out the pre-All-Star portion of their schedule tonight against the Washington Wizards, whom they can sweep for the season with a victory tonight. The Wizards are infamously awful on the road, losing their first 25 games away from Verizon Center this season before topping the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday in the Toilet Bowl on Sunday.
Initially, one could have billed this game as Rashard Lewis' return to Orlando, where he played for three-plus seasons, earning one All-Star berth and appearing in two Eastern Conference Finals, until the Magic traded him to the Wizards for Gilbert Arenas. Tonight, Lewis will sit with a sore knee, robbing Washington of a solid third or fourth offensive option, and Magic fans of the opportunity to cheer him.
Lewis isn't the only Wizard who might be out of action; Nick Young, who leads he team in scoring at 17.6 points per game, is a game-time decision because of left knee "discomfort." Young, incidentally, passes on an estimated 27.4 percent of his touches, the lowest figure among all guards averaging 30 minutes per game. SB Nation's Tom Ziller did some math and figured if Kobe Bryant were similarly less inclined to pass, he'd average 32 shots per game. Young's shot-happy ways can help the Wizards--he dropped 21 points on Orlando, in 32 minutes off the bench, in a Magic victory last November--but they can also hurt them. Maybe having him out of the lineup will help the Wizards' other players get involved.
Arenas has the opportunity to match up against his former team for the second time. He played well in the first meeting, especially on defense against his good friend/trash-talk parter Young.
Washington neither defends nor scores well, so Orlando should roll pretty easily. Dwight Howard won't find much resistance from Washington's interior or help-side defenders; foul trouble and a potential lack of touches if his teammates stop giving him the ball are the only things standing between him and a 30-point performance. Jameer Nelson figures to enjoy a pretty easy night matched up against John Wall, who gave Nelson so much space in the pick-and-roll last month he might as well have sent Nelson an engraved invitation to drive to the hoop.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|15-38 (1-25 road) |
|35-21 (20-8 home) |
|February 16th, 2011|
|John Wall||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Nick Young||SG||Jason Richardson|
|Josh Howard||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Andray Blatche||PF||Brandon Bass|
|JaVale McGee||C||Dwight Howard|
|October 28th: Magic 112, Wizards 83|
|November 27th: Magic 100, Wizards 99|
|February 4th: Magic 110, Wizards 92|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|93.2 (11th)||Pace||92.1 (16th)|
|102.9 (T-26th)||ORtg||107.9 (12th)|
|109.4 (20th)||DRtg||102.0 (3rd)|