The Orlando Magic hope to avoid their third three-game losing streak of the season tonight against the Washington Wizards, who're no stranger to the Magic, given their status as divisional rivals and their employment of former Orlando forward Rashard Lewis. Orlando traded Lewis to the Wizards on December 18th for Gilbert Arenas, a deal that's so far worked okay for Washington and not so well for the Magic. Lewis is posting per-game averages of 13.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1 steal as one of the Wizards' featured players, while Arenas is shooting 36.9 percent with Orlando as its eighth man.
The big story tonight, bigger than the Magic facing Lewis, is Arenas returning to Washington for the first time since the trade. He's given at least one bizarre interview with a DC-area media outlet in advance of the game, and as the former face of the Wizards franchise, all eyes will be on him tonight. Truth About It has an interesting look on Arenas' last minutes as a Wizard here.
Understand that Washington is sort of a joke around the league, with its 0-25 road record, but is actually a solid home team; it's telling that Orlando thumped the Wizards at Amway Arena on opening night, but needed a Dwight Howard putback in the final seconds to escape Washington with a win the next month. Both teams have changed since then--Arenas put up 31 points for the Wizards in that outing, and missed what would have been the winning shot--sure, but it's indicative of Washington's season-long tendency to play much better in the confines of its own building, most likely due to a better effort.
The Magic shouldn't have much trouble scoring inside against the Wizards' porous, inept defense. A greater concern is keeping offensive weapons like Lewis, rookie point guard John Wall, and shooting guard Nick Young from getting going. Wall's a disaster as a jump shooter, but has such incredible quickness that he can get into the lane to score almost at will. Playing well off him al night is a sound strategy, as is going under the high screens his teammates will set for him.
Young's a different story. He does his damage with what's typically the least efficient shot in the game, the long two-pointer, but he's so adept at it, and needs such little daylight to get a shot off, that he's a tough cover. Young's not going to pass, ever--I'll be married and have kids before he ever records an 8-assist game--so the Magic at least know he's going to put it up once the ball swings to him. Stay up on him, don't foul him, box out, rebound, and move the other way.
Also, with that Arenas/Lewis swap? Remember who told you first.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|31-19 (13-12 road) |
|13-35 (13-10 home) |
|February 4th, 2011|
|Fox Sports Florida|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||John Wall|
|Jason Richardson||SG||Nick Young|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Rashard Lewis|
|Ryan Anderson||PF||Trevor Booker|
|Dwight Howard||C||Andray Blatche|
|October 28th: Magic 112, Wizards 83|
|November 27th: Magic 100, Heat 99|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|92.0 (16th)||Pace||93.3 (11th)|
|108.5 (10th)||ORtg||102.5 (28th)|
|102.6 (T-4th)||DRtg||109.2 (T-20th)|