Knicks (28-50) vs. Magic (55-23)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Sun Sports
Key Matchup: Danilo Gallinari (14.6 PPG, 37.9% 3FG%; 17.5 PPG, 6-10 3FG vs. Magic) vs. Rashard Lewis (14.3 PPG, 39.4% 3FG%; 23.0 PPG, 10-16 3FG vs. Knicks)
Season Series: Won 114-102 in New York on Nov. 29; Won 118-104 in Orlando on Dec. 2; Tonight in Orlando.
-Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel is tired of Stan Van Gundy complaining about referees and the media putting attention on Dwight Howard’s frustrations. I would agree that Howard just needs to play and respect the officials’ calls for a while.
-Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel hands out his postseason awards.
-Orlando is ready finally to see a full and healthy Jameer Nelson in the postseason.
-It is not quite Denver working around the WWE like in last year’s conference finals, but Orlando and the NBA will be working around a Nickelback concert next week at Amway Arena when they plan the first round of the playoffs.
-Tracy McGrady has struggled lately leaving Mike D’Antoni to lean toward not resigning McGrady this summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.
-Manu Ginobili’s resigning with the Spurs is one less free agent for the Knicks to chase this summer. Peter Vescey of the New York Post writes that means more teams competing for those coveted free agents.
-With Tracy McGrady back in Orlando, he reminisces on what could have been if the summer of 2000 worked out the way it could have with Tim Duncan and Grant Hill both joining T-Mac back home.
-Andrew Melnick previews tonight’s game against the Knicks, a team that scores a lot of points, but is not very efficient in doing them.
Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post compares the Magic and the Lakers’ schedules coming down the stretch. It appears Los Angeles has an easier schedule forcing Orlando to really play well to get the second overall seed and home court in the Finals.
-The Knicks came out cold and their porous defense allowed the offensively-challenged Pacers to run wild on them Wednesday. Alex David of Buckets over Broadway has a recap.
-Hard to tell, but JJ Redick is the Magic’s best athlete on the team. And, as Art Garcia of NBA.com writes, it paid off for Redick this season.
-A lot has been made about Tracy McGrady wanting a return to Orlando, but T-Mac just wants to get healthy writes Mike Slane of NYKnicks.com.
-Marc Stein of ESPN.com names Dwight Howard his Defensive Player of the Year and second in MVP voting.
-Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated takes his turn naming his award winners. He puts Dwight Howard as Defensive Player of the Year and on the same level as Kobe Bryant as second choice for MVP.
-John Hollinger of ESPN Insider breaks down the remaining races in the NBA heading into the final weekend.
-Lang Whitaker of SLAM magazine also names his award winners, saying Rajon Rondo could be the protest pick that keeps Howard from winning defensive player of the year.
-Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com analyzes Vince Carter’s chances of making the hall of fame and puts him on the borderline at best. Not even winning this year would move him.
-Mike Miller tells Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk that he would love the opportunity to return to Orlando and play with Dwight Howard. He could be an interesting option should Orlando fail to resign Matt Barnes or JJ Redick this summer.
-General manager Otis Smith understands both sides of the argument when it comes to players joining their national teams in the summer.
-John Schumann of NBA.com runs the numbers and finds that eight of the last 10 NBA champions have ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and that defense often matters more. Orlando, Cleveland and San Antonio are the only three teams that meet that criteria this year.
-Lots of free agents want to come to Orlando now. Jason Kidd called it, for the record.
-The Lakers understand what is on the line if the Magic pass them for the second best record in the NBA.
-The bench propelled Orlando to a victory over Washington with 65 points Wednesday night.
-Jason Williams reiterates to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com that this is the best team one through 15 he has ever played on. That includes the 2006 champion Miami Heat.
-Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk writes the Magic’s offense was unstoppable Wednesday against the Wizards, but it still took until about the three minute mark of the third quarter for the Magic to pull away.
-Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes the bench knows it will have to step up when it gets its opportunity in the playoffs. And also, Vince Carter confirms his cousin Tracy McGrady would like to return to Orlando.
-Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes the Magic needed some motivation to whip the Wizards on Wednesday night and got it in the form of Jason Williams’ back-to-back 3-pointers.
-Stan Van Gundy is a little annoyed at how the media jumps on Dwight Howard for losing his composure, writes Tania Ganguli of The Orlando Sentinel. But it should be noted, Howard has gone eight games without a technical foul and could avoid the dreaded one-game suspension for picking up his 16th.
-Dwight Howard is having success as an AAU team owner/sponsor and reaffirms his commitment to USA Basketball.