Two teams enjoying 4-game win streaks clash at the ACC tonight, so one team’s fun is about to end. The Magic have performed some legerdemain on themselves since the forced divestiture of Dwight Howard last season. Expected to be circling the drain by this point of the season, Orlando instead is one game under .500, despite having a rookie Head Coach & a banged-up roster. Last night, Glen Davis joined Al Harrington & Hedu Turkoglu as Magic-men in sick bay. Big Baby mashed his shoulder against Washington. One player’s injury is another’s opportunity, & rookie Forward Andrew Nicholson, the pride of Brampton, ON, will have his chance against his hometown team. Another Magic rookie, Shooting Guard Maurice Harkless, will likely start. He hasn’t written his name in the stars yet, & DeMar DeRozan should have a relatively easy time. Jameer Nelson is Orlando’s Point Guard. He’s undersized & has lost a step; the way Jose Calderon is playing, we should win the PG battle handily.
The Magic have been tough to score on, holding their last 9 opponents to under 99 points. However, they are challenged to score, & without Davis (tied with Aaron Afflalo as the team’s top scorer with 16 PPG) will need to hold down the Raps’ offense to win. Gustavo Ayon, a huge fiery Centre, gets nearly as many fouls as points, which is why he backs up talented Nikola Vucevic. Looking to find Orlando’s lost points will be J.J. Redick, a veteran Guard who merits close attention, as he has proven he can fill it up from distance. E’Twaun Moore has been a pleasant surprise for the Magic, averaging almost 10 PPG off the bench.
Amir Johnson is listed as “Day to Day” with a turned-ankle injury suffered in Wednesday’s win over the Pistons. Knowing Amir, nothing short of the Mayan apocalypse will keep him off the floor. Every Rap who hit the floor against Detroit made the scoresheet, even Bombs Away Kleiza, who never met a 3-point shot he didn’t like, & few he made.
Glen Davis was a major headache last month for the Raps, yet they prevailed by 11. I think they can win again in a tough, physical battle where points will be at a premium. No pizza, home fans; but you can go home happy following a 89 – 84 Raps victory.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.