After defeating the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, the Magic will try to make it three straight when they return home to host the Miami Heat Tuesday night. Miami’s last game was also against Indiana – they earned 93-91 overtime victory, their third win in a row. The victory pushed Miami’s record 31-9. The Magic are five games behind the Heat with a record of 27-15.
Miami’s lone loss in the last two weeks came in Orlando at the hands of the Magic. The Magic defeated the Heat 102-89. The two teams met again on February 19 and the Heat got some revenge, defeating the Magic 90-78.
The Magic rank 12th in offensive rating (104.6), 11th in defensive rating (101.8) and play at the league’s fourth-slowest pace (89.4). The Heat are first in offensive rating (109.9), seventh in defensive rating (100.4) and play at the league’s 11th-fastest pace (92.0).
Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST and will be shown locally on FS Florida and nationally on NBA TV.
As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5 and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for tonight’s game are Ed Malloy, Eric Dalen and James Williams.
The Line: Miami – 4.5 (189.5)
*Jason Richardson is out with a sprained left ankle.
Miami forward Mike Miller also has a sprained left ankle is listed as questionable.
Obviously, the Magic know what the Heat are all about – they have their big three, led by LeBron James, who is having not only the best season of his career, but one of the best seasons that any player has ever had. Plus, they added roleplayers like Shane Battier and look like they have really improved upon the team that went to the Finals last season.
However, the Heat have their share of problems – defending the three-pointer, their lack of a big man and some problems at the point guard position (although Mario Chalmers is having a fantastic season shooting the ball) has hurt them in the past.
Although Jameer Nelson looks much better than he did early in the season, point guard is still a big a problem for the Magic so they likely won’t be able to really exploit the matchup there.
Orlando can beat Miami by knocking down three-pointers as Miami clogs the paint and tries to use their great athletes to quickly close out on opposing shooters. In Orlando’s February 8 victory over the Heat, they knocked 17 three-pointers. In their loss 11 days later, they hit six less three-pointers and made just 16 two-pointers.
Dwight Howard has the ability to dominate any big man in the league, especially against a Miami team that doesn’t have anyone who stands out. Howard still struggles at times – he had just 12 points and 15 rebounds (and went 2-of-10 from the free throw line) in Orlando’s loss to Miami. In their victory, Howard scored 25 points, pulled down 24 rebounds and did a good job of keeping Miami out of the paint. When Howard is dominating a game like that, the Magic can play with the Heat.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic 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: Chris Bosh Chris Duhon Dwight Howard Dwyane Wade Erik Spoelstra Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu Ish Smith J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Larry Hughes LeBron James Miami Heat Mike Miller Norris Cole Orlando Magic Otis Smith Pat Riley Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson Shane Battier Stan Van Gundy Udonis Haslem Von Wafer