Magic (46-20) vs. Wizards (21-42)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./Sun Sports, NBATV
Key Matchup: Vince Carter (16.4 PPG, 42% FG%; 14.5 PPG, 6-19 FG vs. Wizards this year) vs. Al Thornton (11.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG; 13.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG since joining Wizards
-Tania Ganguli of The Orlando Sentinel reports Orlando is hoping to take advantage of a tired Washington team and get some more rest for its starts, a thing that Rashard Lewis says will prove valuable for the postseason. Also, Mickael Pietrus will return from the strained neck that kept him out of Thursday’s win over the Bulls.
-Washington has faced just about everything this season. Tonight’s home game against Orlando will end a back-to-back-to-back after a game against Atlanta was moved to Thursday because of that massive snow storm in the D.C. area in January and February.
-Charles Barkley compared this year’s Magic to the 1990s New York Knicks, which featured current assistant coach Patrick Ewing, that never won a title because of Michael Jordan. Orlando is also hoping tonight to become the third team in franchise history with an eight-game winning streak. The 1994-95 team holds the team record with a nine-game streak.
-Many of the Pistons players had fuzzy feelings for former coach Flip Saunders before the game, but they had no fuzzy feelings in completing their first sweep of the Wizards since 2005.
-Orlando is the hottest team in the East, but have had problems in two losses to Washington. Luckily, the heroes for the Wizards from those games are gone and the Magic have another chance to pick on a poor team. Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk has more.
-Rook6980 of Bullets Forever profiles Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson as Washington fans beging to turn their eyes toward the draft.
-Kyle Weidie of Truth About It writes how Andray Blatche has struggled with turnovers since becoming a focal point of Washington’s offense, and thus the opposing defenses.
-Kyle Weidie of Truth About It introduces Alonzo Gee, who played his first game since being called up from the D-League on Thursday, to the world.
-Marc Stein of ESPN.com ranks the top 30 games left this season. The Magic make the list multiple times (vs. Hawks, vs. Nuggets, at Mavericks, at Cavs). While the biggest attraction to the Wizards’ few dates are what might be going on around them (Gilbert Arenas’ sentencing and the appearance of President Obama at Bulls-Wizards in D.C.). Also the Wizards have laid down some impressive stats as they started a back-to-back-to-back in a makeup game with Atlanta on Thursday (they played Detroit last night before hosting Orlando tonight).
-Bethlehem Shoals of FanHouse is excited about the emergence of Andray Blatche, now that he has the opportunity to star for the Wizards.
-Stan Van Gundy does not believe much in turning corners in the long NBA season, but it is hard to deny the Magic have been preparing better and have been more focused in going 10-2 since the All Star break. Then again, as Tania Ganguli of The Orlando Sentinel notes, there are much tougher challenges ahead.
-Rob Mahoney of Pro Basketball Talk tries to dispel any hatred toward basketball statisticians. It is clear statistics and looking at numbers has helped teams become better.
-Trey Kirby of Ball Don’t Lie suggests some new nicknames for Gilbert Arenas.
-Mike Spring of Bleacher/Report writes Brandon Bass’ recent string of good play has him fishing for a spot in the lineup (or at least a more permanent place in the rotation).
-Mike Prada of Sports Bloggers Nation has some burning questions as Gilbert Arenas announces he will file to change his number from 0 to 6.
-Continuing their recent toughness theme, Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk writes the Magic showed no remorse of Derrick Rose’s fall and injury from Thursday.
-Jon Barry of ESPN.com says Orlando’s weakness (as currently constructed) is that they lack someone who can initiate the offense (like Hedo Turkoglu could last season). Whether he has seen Jameer Nelson’s assist totals the last 1.5-2 weeks is another story.
-The Onion reports Stan Van Gundy is the zen master of bar-b-que and uses its lessons to help the Magic succeed.
-Several of the Magic’s guards offered advice to Derrick Rose (and others) on how to avoid the mid-air collisions that sometimes can follow challenging Dwight Howard.
-The Wall Street Journal notes that half the league has invested in statistics and studying numbers to assist in the decision-making process. These 15 teams, which includes the Magic, account for 59.3 percent of the games won this year.
-Dwight Howard is proving to be Derrick Rose’s kryptonite after Rose got hurt in another mid-air collision with Superman, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.
-Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes Vince Carter is putting his Playoff game face on as the Magic inched closer to a playoff berth with their runaway win against the Bulls on Thursday.
-Dan Savage of OrlandoMagic.com writes Orlando is hitting its stride at the right time, after blowing out Chicago at home Thursday.
-Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog was shocked at the announcement Gilbert Arenas was changing his jersey number and explains why Arenas embodied the number 0.
-John Schumann of NBA.com points out context is just as important as anything when looking at statistics.