Tomorrow night, Magic fans will get their first look at the 2010-11 edition of the team as they travel to Hidalgo, Texas to play the Rockets. Preseason games always need to be taken with a grain of salt — o.k., a few grains of salt — and the first one is always a huge question mark.
Stan Van Gundy has been talking a lot about moving Rashard Lewis to small forward and potentially lining up Marcin Gortat with Dwight Howard in some lineups. And with Jason Williams out, you may see a few different players running the point.
But for this first game, don’t expect too much out of the ordinary. Josh Robbins on Sunday reported Van Gundy has yet to really set his rotation for this first preseason game. I would imagine Dwight Howard and the starters do not play much more than 20-25 minutes. And I would imagine the team will stick to basics. That means Rashard Lewis at power forward for most of the time.
The game will be incredibly sloppy and besides perhaps some experimenting from Howard against Yao Ming, you will see the team play very basic. You can almost expect a loss as the team gets its legs under them beyond the 3-point line.
Here are three things to keep an eye on during Tuesday’s game:
–Dwight Howard’s offensive game: I would expect Orlando to get Howard’s touches in early and let him get his work in and then take him out. Howard will probably exert a moderate amount of energy on defense, but on offense he will have an early chance to prove himself. Yao Ming has always proven to be a difficult matchup for him. This could be the first time Howard can start experimenting and get comfortable with his offensive repertoire. Howard will surely default to a lot of what he had been doing before, but do not be surprised to see him start throwing in a few wrinkles here and there.
–How does Quentin Richardson fit in?: Orlando’s newest acquisition is touted to be a replacement for Matt Barnes with a 3-point shot. It always takes some time to figure out where to be in Van Gundy’s offense. If the team keeps things simple, we can see how far along Richardson is into figuring out his place on the team. Richardson obviously wants to be a 3-point shooter and top perimeter defender. He gets his first actual test Tuesday night.
–Can Stanley Robinson be useful?: Robinson is a second round draft pick and earned a non-guaranteed contract. But he still has to prove he is worth a roster spot. That chance is going to come in practice and in the early games. Guys like Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson will also begin sorting out their playing time issues in games like this. Although those lineup stalwarts likely will not be playing with as much urgency in the first preseason game.