The Orlando Magic will immediately put their eight-game winning streak on the line when they travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks Saturday night. The Mavericks will be without their starting forwards, Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler, who is out for the season.
Dallas’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night was their third loss in their last five games, dropping them to 26-9. They have the second-best record in the Western Conference and are 3.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest division.
By defeating the Houston Rockets Friday, the Magic won their eighth straight game to improve to 24-12. They are not second in the Southeast division and third in the Eastern Conference.
The Mavericks are 23rd in pace (90.6), 10th in offensive rating (107.9) and eighth in defensive rating (103.0).
The Magic are 18th in pace (92.0), 14th in offensive rating (106.6) and fourth in defensive rating (101.0).
The game will be shown locally on FSN Florida. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
Tip off from the American Airlines Arenas in Dallas, Texas is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST.
The Line: Orlando -
The Mavericks will not only be without Nowitzki (sprained right knee) and Butler (right knee surgery, out for season) but they will be without Rodrigue Beauboi, who is out indefinitely after having left foot surgery.
For the Magic, Malik Allen is questionable with a sprained left ankle while Daniel Orton (left knee surgery) and Jason Williams (arthritis in feet) are out indefinitely.
The officials will be James Capers, Curtis Blair and Tony Brothers.
Opponent To Watch: Jason Terry, G – Terry has stepped up his scoring over the last three games, averaging 18.3 points per game and leading the Mavericks to two victories. With Nowitzki out, Terry (along with Shawn Marion) is going to have to continue carrying the scoring load if the Mavericks are going to continue to have success. Terry’s quickness still makes him a tough cover for the Magic guards. He’s given the Magic fits over his career, averaging 16.9 points and 5.0 assists per game in 30 games against the club.
What To Watch For: The Mavericks are an extremely deep tea but asking them to beat a team like the Magic without their best player, leading scorer and former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki (24.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game) is a tall order. Caron Butler, the team’s third lead scorer (15.0 points per game) is out for the remainder of the season after injuring his knee so their depth is really going to be tested. The Mavericks do provide a tough a matchup for the Magic because they have a center in Tyson Chandler who is more than just a body (he’s having a very good season) and a backup in Brendan Haywood, who has proven he can play in the past.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).