Note: since there is no basketball, and we were supposed to have games, we will imagine there were games. With the help of AccuScore, Strat-o-Matic and Basketball Prospectus, we can imagine an NBA season even if there is not one actually going on. So with that, we begin to imagine the 2011-12 season.
The Magic likely will not be below .500 again. Not with Dwight Howard able to dominate most teams and a collection of players able to fill in. That is the Magic’s way.
So who would step up on Sunday against Philadelphia? Gilbert Arenas.
Yes, Arenas, who is averaging 2.3 points per game and shooting 11.3 percent (I am not lying, I keep track of these things) in the first three games, had his first big game of the season. Hopefully it is not a rare occurrence.
Arenas scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half as the Magic had control with a 26-point first half lead and easily won 103-92 at “Amway Center” on Sunday. Howard added 23 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 12 for 16 from the floor.
The Magic led by no fewer than eight points in the game to secure the victory and return to 2-2 in the simulated season using Strat-o-Matic. Orland had seven players score in double figures.
Stan Van Gundy was happy with the win, but was generally displeased with his team’s defensive effort. Philadelphia scored 92 points on 52 percent shooting, as the team tried to counteract some sloppy play in 16 turnovers. Van Gundy, in his first big warning of the year, chided his team after the game for not paying attention to detail defensively and letting the 76ers hang around toward the end.
His team seemed to relax a bit after a 26-14 first quarter edge and only increased the intensity when the game got tight. That will not cut it later in the season. Van Gundy was also not happy with giving up 16 fast break points. But, he retracted and said it is early in the year and these details will come as the season moves on.
In the AccuScore simulation, the Magic eked out an 88-83 win as the offense continues to struggle. Dwight Howard had a monster game and made his free throws as Philadelphia could not answer his effort. It was Orlando’s first win in the AccuScore season and bodes very poorly that the team has not been able to get offensive consistency in those simulations.
More interestingly now, Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus, who has been chronicling the sim season using Strat-o-Matic, released his first week power rankings. The Magic come in 17th. It is still early (Milwaukee is the top team in the league right now) so we will see how this changes. Of course, we hope we don’t see how this changes because that would mean we have real games to watch.