Magic (16-6, 11-2 home, 2nd East) @ Bucks (8-12, 6-2 home, 10th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 16th (101.7 pts/100 poss), Defense 28th (107.8), Rebounding 12th (.507 rr), Pace 22nd (93.1)
Magic Stats: Offense 12th (104.9 pts/100 poss), Defense 3rd (98.2), Rebounding 19th (.497 rr), Pace 7th (98.7)
Bucks Injuries: Bobby Simmons missed most of the road trip due to personal reasons, but will be back on the bench tonight. Michael Ruffin is out another week or so with a fractured wrist. David Noel is out with a tear in his wrist that may require surgery.
Magic Injuries: Rashard Lewis is now questionable with neck spasms. Tony Battie is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
07/08 Series: 1-0 Magic. The Magic torched the Bucks on opening night in Orlando, 102-83. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis combined for 50 points on 17/28 shooting for the Magic. Last season the Magic took three out of four, with Turkoglu scoring 21 ppg on 57% shooting in the season series.
- The Bucks had their troubles the West's worse, losing four out of five games including three games to sub-.500 teams on their just-completed Western trip. Now they face the East's two best teams, the Magic tonight in Milwaukee and the Celtics in Boston on Friday. Things then ease up a bit with Minnesota at home on Saturday. Still, the Bucks really need to show some life (for my sake if nothing else).
- Despite their hot start to the season, the Magic have actually dropped two in a row following their 98-87defeat on Monday night in Atlanta. Hedo Turkoglu led the way with 22 points while Dwight Howard had 14/18.
- Is Dwight Howard the best big man in the NBA? ESPN's David Thorpe seems to think so, and it's difficult to argue otherwise. Howard's averaging a monster 23.1 ppg and 15.2 rpg on .613 shooting from the field. Oh, and he blocks nearly three shots per game. Fortunately no one else on the team really rebounds, so the Bucks will have to do their best to grab offensive rebounds and be aggressive going to the hoop when Howard is resting. In the first matchup this year the Bucks' forays into the paint invariably seemed to end with Howard launching the ball into press row, so we'll see if the Bucks become gun shy going to the hoop.
- Bogut acquitted himself pretty well defensively when he was on the court against Howard earlier this season, but he'll have to avoid foul trouble to give the Bucks a chance tonight. The Bucks have shown a renewed determination recently to keep Bogut involved offensively, but Bogut may have difficulty getting position and good looks against Howard, as was the case in Orlando.
- The Lewis signing has gotten a lot of publicity with Orlando's strong start, but don't sleep on their other forward. While Lewis is getting paid nearly $15 million this season to provide 19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 2.6 apg on .449/.389/.854 shooting, Turkoglu is quietly providing 18.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and 4.3 apg on .422/.354/.796 for a little over $6 million. In Orlando the Bucks used Yi primarily on Turkoglu and Desmond Mason on former teammate Rashard Lewis, but neither had much trouble getting good looks throughout the game.
- Both Magic forwards are 6'10", so Mason is at something of a length disadvantage regardless of who he guards. Though it's not quite as bad as you think--while Desmond is officially listed at 6'5", he actually measured 6'6" barefoot and 6'7.25" in shoes at the predraft camp in 2000. Similarly, Bobby Simmons measured 6'6.25" barefoot and 6'7.5" in shoes in 2002, yet he's listed at 6'6". Not all the Bucks are being undersold, though: Charlie Villanueva measured 6'9" barefoot and 6'9.5" in shoes, yet he's always been listed at 6'11". NBA heights are supposed to be all "with shoes" measurements, FYI.
- Jameer Nelson got a
$30$35 million extension on the eve of the regular season, but he's had an uneven start to 07/08, averaging 12.1 ppg and 6.0 apg in just over 30 mpg. On Monday he played 27 minutes and scored eight points in the Magic's loss. Carlos Arroyo plays nearly 19 mpg and averages 5.1 ppg, 4.0 apg compared to just 1.1 TOs.
- Check out Third Quarter Collapse for more on the Magic.
- UPDATE: As Ben at 3QC reports, Rashard Lewis is now a game-time decision with neck spasms. Needless to say, Lewis missing out would be a big help for the Bucks, who would have one less outside threat to contend with. Meanwhile, the Bucks would be getting one of their few marksman back with Bobby Simmons set to return.