Tonight’s game: New Jersey Nets at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.

TV: Sun Sports
Radio: 580 WDBO

New Jersey Nets (0-8)

Top story: The Nets are the only team in the NBA that’s more banged up than the Magic, fielding just eight active active players. Courtney Lee won’t play tonight with a strained groin, and Devin Harris is expected to miss a couple more weeks. The Nets will get a little bit of help, though, as Chris Douglas-Roberts is expected to return from the swine flu tonight.

Who you’re watching: With Harris out, Rafer Alston is the team’s starting point guard. He’s averaging 15 points and six assists in the last three games, as he is a more than capable replacement point guard; any Magic fan can tell you that. Alston will be playing with a little bit of extra juice tonight, there’s no doubt about that.

Why they’ll win: If the Nets can get Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat in foul trouble, that means Matt Barnes would be the Magic’s center. Simply put, the Magic cannot afford foul trouble with their big men. Barnes can offer little resistance to Brook Lopez, one of the most underrated centers in the game.

Orlando Magic (6-3)
PG Jameer Nelson SG Vince Carter SF Mickael Pietrus PF Matt Barnes C Dwight Howard

Top story: Brandon Bass isn’t playing with the flu, meaning Barnes will see a lot of minutes at power forward. With Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson and Bass expected to miss tonight, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus will also see time at the 4 – something neither player expected to see much of this season, especially Pietrus. From the Sentinel:

“It makes substituting easy because you’ve got no choices,” Magic Coach Stan Van GUndy said. Van Gundy wasn’t sure which strain of the flu Bass has but he has a fever and that required isolating him from the team. Matt Barnes, who was sick over the weekend, didn’t have a fever, so that wasn’t necessary with him. Barnes will start at power forward and Mickael Pietrus will start at small forward tonight, Van Gundy said. Pietrus and center Marcin Gortat will also get some time at power forward.

Who you’re watching: Howard has been in foul trouble for most of the season, and he’s really overdue for a monster game. Hopefully, this can be the game. It’s also worth noting how Howard and Jameer Nelson respond to Stan Van Gundy’s criticism after Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers.

Why they’ll win: The Nets are, by all accounts, the worst team in the NBA right now. No matter who’s playing for the Magic, a loss tonight and there will be some genuine concern in Magic nation. A win tonight and the Magic are at 7-3 after 10 games; with Lewis out, that’s really not a bad mark for that stretch, even if the Magic had a cake schedule.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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