|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|13-19 (5-12 road)||22-12 (13-5 home) |
|January 5, 2010|
| Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin|
|Keyon Dooling ||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|John Salmons ||SG||Jason Richardson|
|Luc Mbah a Moute ||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Ersan Ilyasova ||PF||Brandon Bass|
|Andrew Bogut ||C||Dwight Howard|
|(30th) 99.9 - OFFENSE - 106.7 (14th)|
|(6th) 102.3 - DEFENSE - 101.2 (4th)|
|(25th) 90.4 - PACE - 92.0 (18th)|
The Orlando Magic squad Milwaukee will face tonight bears almost no resemblance to the short-handed team they defeated at home almost exactly one month ago. Two members of that night's starting lineup have since been traded away, and the Magic will (unfortunately) have the services of Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, who both missed the last meeting with flu symptoms.
Just two years removed from an NBA Finals trip, the Magic were shoved aside to a certain extent this year, eclipsed by their in-state rivals and the surprisingly good Bulls in terms of contention-talk. That was probably motivation enough to pull the trigger on a pair of blockbuster trades, significantly revamping the roster in an effort to put them over the top. The makeover didn't work out immediately, with the Magic losing their first two games after finalizing the deals, but they've been on a roll ever since, winning 6 straight by an average of over 15 points a game. That streak includes victories over the Celtics, Spurs, and Knicks.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, is 60 percent finished with perhaps the toughest 5-game stretch any team might face this season. In part thanks to another injured opponent (the Mavericks were without Dirk), the Bucks have gotten one win out of what seemed an inevitable 0-5 stretch, and look to steal another one in Orlando tonight.
Do It Like Hedo It. After signing with Toronto as a free agent, Hedo Turkoglu never mustered the same level of performance as he had in Orlando. Same goes for his time in Phoenix. But since returning to Florida, Hedo has returned to form in a manner that seems simultaneously remarkable and totally predictable. He's coming off one of his best games in recent memory, posting a 10/14/10 line for his 3rd career triple-double. He seems far more comfortable on the court than he has in some time and hasn't had any trouble getting readjusted to the Orlando offense. The chemistry with his past teammates already seems stronger than any bond he may have felt to the Raptors or Suns, prompting this tweet from Magic Basketball's Eddy Rivera.
Six a Lucky Number? The first meeting between these two teams also saw the Magic riding a 6-game winning streak, which was promptly busted by the Bucks. If they can do it again, and then maybe a third and fourth time, things will really get creepy. Working against them? Milwaukee hasn't won in Orlando since 2004.
A Different Kind of Offense. In the first meeting between Orlando and Milwaukee, the Bucks' offense was dominated by Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings, who combined for 58 points on 23-of-40 shooting. This time, Jennings will spend the game in a walking boot. Andrew Bogut hasn't been a real offensive force since his 5-game rampage immediately after returning from injury in early December. It's been tough to predict who will pick up the slack each night, whether it's Earl Boykins going off for 20+ or John Salmons rediscovering his outside shot. This much we can be certain of: with Orlando's new depth and scoring punch, every member of Milwaukee's roster will need to be prepared to contribute offensively if the Bucks hope to win.
Block Party. This game is not going to be kind to any weak shot set up around the rim. With Andrew Bogut and Dwight Howard patrolling the paint, the front few rows of fans will surely be kept on their toes, eyes peeled for loose balls hurtling toward their beverages. Milwaukee is 8th in the NBA in terms of the percentage of shot attempts that get blocked, while Orlando is 24th. Still, I'm of the opinion that Bogut is a better shot-blocker than Howard (yeah, I said it), so those of you who enjoy spectacular defensive highlights (like myself) should enjoy it.
Brian Skinner Waived. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, Milwaukee requested waivers on Brian Skinner today. Skinner hasn't accumulated any significant playing time this season, operating more as a last-resort insurance policy for Andrew Bogut. Milwaukee's roster now stands at 14 players, and it remains to be seen if John Hammond is looking to orchestrate any substantial moves for the team as the New Year evolves.