Orlando Magic Status Check:
Road Record: 13-10
Last game: Won 111-96 at Indiana
Last 10 Games: 6-4
PPG: 100.5 (11th)
Opponents PPG: 94.6 (6th)
Offensive Rating: 108.7 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 102.3 (5th)
Pace: 92.0 (17th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .528 (2nd)
Turnover Percentage: .142 (23rd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .774 (1st)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .252 (20th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .226 (15th)
Opp. eFG%: .481 (6th)
Opp. TO%: .133 (18th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .223 (9th)
Leading scorer: Dwight Howard (22.0)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Magic Injury Report:
Malik Allen: Sprained left ankle (out indefinitely)
Daniel Orton: Left knee surgery (out indefinitely)
This is a test.
The Magic are one of the top teams in the league. Record-wise, they trail the Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Heat, Bulls, and Mavericks. According to John Hollinger’s Power Rankings, they are the league’s third-best team.
However, following a nine-game winning streak, the Magic have gone only 5-4 in their last nine games. And their wins — versus the Timberwolves (10-35), Sixers (20-25), Raptors (13-33), Rockets (22-26) and Pacers (16-26) — weren’t exactly inspiring. During this recent stretch, they’ve lost to all the good teams they’ve faced (Hornets, Thunder, Celtics) and even dropped a home game to the Pistons (17-29).
I’m just sayin’…there are some chinks in the armor.
That said, Orlando has had Chicago’s number this season. The Magic obliterated the Bulls 105-67 in the preseason and then crushed them 107-78 back on December 1. That was Carlos Boozer’s debut. Probably one he’d like to forget.
Or, better yet, redress.
If the Bulls are going to win, and make a move toward “elite team” status, they’ll need to improve their performance around the rim. In their earlier meeting, the Magic won the Battle of the Boards (44-21) and outscored Chicago 46-26 in the paint.
Kurt Thomas versus Dwight Howard. Uh oh.
That’s no dig on Kurt. He played great in the win over Milwaukee. But not many centers can hold their own against Howard. Thomas is going to need all his veteran wiles for this one.
And Boozer will need to play better than he did last time.
I’d be tempted to say that Derrick Rose will play a large role, and I’d be worried about his bad back and those two stomach ulcers, except that I recently discovered he’s not the Bulls’ best player, can’t match Landry Fields in All-Star-level play, and doesn’t have the clutch-time prowess of Jrue Holiday. Hey, the numbers don’t lie, right?
Parting shot: The key to this game, I think, will be defending the three-point line. When the Magic lost to the Pistons, they went 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) from downtown. When they beat the Pacers, they were 16-for-34 (47.1 percent) from beyond the arc, and those 16 makes represented an all-time high for a Pacers opponent.