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The best poart of last night's game?(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
If you are like me, you enjoy wallowing in your own misery. You have a difficult time putting it out of your head, you analyze it, you share it with your friends, you talk to your analyst, you scribble in a journal that will be found by your girlfriend and she will realize what a lunatic head case you are. Perhaps you drown your sorrows in alcohol or you sleep it off via too much of some substance that shouldn't be taken too much.
In the interest of forgetting last night's butchering in Miami, I thought I would write the Orlando V. Suns preview early today. Of course, I write with trepidation as you may all read with the same emotion. It doesn't exactly get easier for the Suns tonight. Consecutive victories over the Lakers in LA and Denver at home would make many of us believe that the Suns had turned the corner, and perhaps they have in a sense. Those victories illustrate that the Suns can play with any team in the league on any given night. But the perils of an 82 game season can take their toll. Consider the long plane flight to Florida after the Denver game, one night off and then two consecutive early starts against two of the top Eastern Conference teams. The schedule then demands jaunts to Charlotte and then Houston with only a day in between each matchup. Of course, this isn't the first difficult road trip for the Suns, or any team for that matter, so it may be best to ignore how grueling the schedule has been against the Suns thus far, enjoy the fact that they are, for the moment, a game above .500, and move on.
So the Magic aren't the offensive juggernaut the once were. They're shooting 45% from the field (18th), and 34.7 percent from beyond the arc to rank (20th). Overall they're scoring 97.9 ppg (22nd). Of course the Magic's rebounding differential is #1 in the league (6.7) and their point differential 7.1 is good for number 6 in the league. The Magic allow teams to shoot 43.3% (2nd in the league). You see where I'm going with this. They D it up, they drop the ball into Dwight, and when he isn't around, the Gortat. Jameer Nelson has been banged up and Rashard Lewis isw shooting 35% from the field, woirse from beyond the arc, and scoring a putrid 10 a game. (Can someone calculate how much money per point he's making?)
The Suns have won 9 of the last 12 meetings versus the Magic, however they may have to gut out and grab a W without Steve Nash, who played through a groin injury last night. The Magic may miss J.J. Redick who I normally wouldn't worry about, except he seems to make 3-pointers vs. the Suns, (7-11) for his career.
So our Suns are facing a Goliath of the East, tired, fairly banged up, and on the second night of back to backs. What can we expect? Here some not so bold predictions:
If I am Alvin Gentry, I play this one a bit like a pre-season game in that you do some experimenting. Conservative experimenting that is. The odds of the Suns playing the starters heavy minutes and coming out with a W are pretty slim, so why not sit Nash (if you can convince him) and play some combinations while attempting to rest up for the next two that the Suns should win against Charlotte and Houston. The schedule is followed by the Clips at home and away Denver and Golden State.
This is not to say this game is unwinnable...Far from it. As I look at the Magic roster and their numbers, I can see how one of those gritty, gutty wins are possible. The numbers versus the Nuggets weren't really good, still the D took charge at the right time and the Suns stole. Perhaps 10-12 3's and a quality defensive effort could get the job done. Spose that's why the game is played and I'm an awful gambler.
From Last Night's Loss
"We didn't play really hard...we didn't play with enough aggressiveness or urgency...We weren't in the front of our brains, I guess."
"We didn't have any energy at all..You can't take anything from them, but we didn't play like we had been playing. We were flat. No enthusiasm. It was like we went through the motions."
"They (the Heat) pre-rotate, and every time they had a guy there clogging the lane and did a good job playing the second side of the floor..."
From Van Gundy on the Suns:
"We’re the only team in the league that prepares to play Phoenix by playing all big guys...They play small and we’re playing all big cause that’s all we got."
Magic's Dwight Howard is diversifying his offensive game (Orlando Sentinel)
"...It's not just dunks, layups and tip-ins anymore. Howard has expanded his arsenal to include more midrange jumpers, more spin moves and more accurate hook shots..."
Rashard Lewis' Slow Start Hampering Magic (Orlando Pinstripes)
Van Gundy: "My only concern with Rashard, as I told him, is he lets something as minor as a shooting slump affect his energy and enthusiasm for playing...That's my only concern. The shooting will come around if he just goes out and plays hard, enjoys the game and the whole thing."
Hill Set to Face Orlando Magic Again (AZ Republic)
The second night of a back-to-back set seems less problematic now for Hill, the NBA's third-oldest player at 38. He is averaging 18 points (on 63 percent shooting) and six rebounds in 30 minutes per game in the second game of back-to-back sets (three total games), like tonight's return to Orlando.
Did Anthony Tolliver Get Posterized Again?