After finally getting a win Wednesday night (their first in five games), the Orlando Magic will look to make it two in a row when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night. The Cavaliers split two games with the Celtics earlier this week. Orlando is 13-9 while Cleveland is 8-12.
The Magic enter the game ranked 19th in offensive efficiency (102.5), 14th in defensive efficiency (101.7) and play at the league’s fifth slowest pace (89.4). The Cavaliers are 22nd in offense (100.8) and 21st in defense (104.3). They play at the league’s 12th-fastest pace (92.3).
Tip-off from the the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. The game will be shown locally on Sun Sports.
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.
The officials for tonight’s game are Tony Brothers, Eli Roe and Haywoode Workman.
The Line: Orlando – 7.5 (187u)
*Jason Richardson will return from his knee injury.
**Jameer Nelson will be out until at least February 6 (concussion-like symptoms).
Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said their new point guard Ish Smith will “definitely play” Friday.
The Magic will need everything they can get at the point guard position because Kyrie Irving is having an incredible rookie season. Irving is averaging 18.1 points per game while posting an effective field goal percentage of 59.7%, a true shooting percentage of 55.4% and is shooting 41.1% from beyond the arc. He has a PER of 22.6. Smith and Chris Duhon are going to have their hands full.
Despite Anderson Varejao’s fantastic season rebounding the ball so far (11.5 rebounds per game at a career-high rebounding rate of 21.4%), the Magic should have a big advantage in the front court. Obviously, there is no big that should be able to slow Howard, but Cleveland lacks big bodies in general. Howard should have a big night.
Veteran power forward Antawn Jamison has seen his numbers take a dip in his 14th season. The only time Jamison averaged less than the 14.8 points per game he’s scoring this year was his rookie season. The 40.5% shooting from the field is also the lowest of his career.
The Cavs have certainly showed improve with Varejao returning from last season’s ankle injury the high-level play of Irving, but this is a great opportunity for the Magic to pick up their second straight win.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic and NBA Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Anderson Varejao Chris Duhon Cleveland Cavaliers Dwight Howard Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Kyrie Irving Larry Hughes Mychel Thompson Omri Casspi Orlando Magic Otis Smith Quentin Richardson Ramon Sessions Ryan Anderson Stan Van Gundy Tristian Thompson Von Wafer