ORLANDO — This NBA season has already seen some pretty impressive win streaks. The Spurs, Mavericks, Celtics and Heat have all put together win streaks of at least 10 games. It would seem Orlando is getting pretty close to joining that club.
The team’s win streak sits at six games entering tonight’s game against Milwaukee. The Magic could become the ninth team to have a winning streak of seven or more games.
“I don’t have any explanation for that,” Stan Van Gundy said. “San Antonio never loses — I guess they did last night. They don’t lose much. Miami has not lost in a couple months. You’ve got some teams playing really really well.”
It is pretty amazing to sit back and think about the amount of just straight up winning that has occurred this season and it is only Jan. 5. Considering how far down Orlando was before the trades — losing eight of nine — getting a win streak like this together (and potentially longer) is a sign the team has rebounded and rejoined the elite teams in the NBA.
Despite a sub-.500 record, Milwaukee will not be a slouch to get that seventh win. The Bucks are pretty good defensively and feature one of the best centers in the league in former top overall pick Andrew Bogut. Bogut is averaging 13.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while also leading the league in blocked shots with 2.8 per game. He turned in a pretty impressive 31-point, 18-rebound effort against the Magic earlier this season.
That was against Marcin Gortat with Dwight Howard out with the stomach virus. Dwight Howard will be playing this time.
Even against a “true center” and a potential All Star at center, Van Gundy said the Magic will not change their approach.
“It doesn’t change gameplan. It’s just that we have a lot of nights where other people are not looking to post their five man a whole lot,” Van Gundy said. “Bogut changes, but it doesn’t really change anything that we do. Dwight’s a good player and so is Andrew. When you’re playing against great players, sometimes you get the better of the battle and sometimes the other guy does. You just got to keep going at it.”
Skiles said Bogut is going to have to be aggressive against Howard. Especially considering the injuries along Milwaukee’s front line, injuries to Bogut and even Brandon Jennings’ injury.
“You’ve got to really be sharp in trying to get him off his spots,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “Trying being the key word. It’s very difficult to do. And then you got to go at him some on the other end. Bogut is very effective player when he is aggressive — I suppose you could say that about any player — and about half a player when he has more of a passive mindset.
“He could take it right to Dwight early in the game, but Dwight could throw it into the fifth row. Because Bogut could do the same thing to him. They are both good shot blockers. We just have to stay aggressive there. He has to take it in there and get some baskets inside. Now, because we are so shorthanded, we need Bogut to score some points for us.”
The Magic are definitely rolling right now and Milwaukee’s strong defense or potential difficult matchups aside, this team is playing very well. Van Gundy said he thinks the team is playing better than they expected. But he added the team got some “juice” and momentum from playing some of the teams it did early in the schedule after the trade.
The new car smell is going to wear off at some point.
“I think, for us, there is a concern that sort of the excitement wears off a little bit and now you’re back into the grind,” Van Gundy said. “I think that will be a big test for us. I am pretty confident there will be ups and downs along the way. We’ll keep working and getting better.”
Orlando tripped up a little bit against Golden State on Monday night. Against a tough defensive team like Milwaukee, Orlando will have to be prepared to keep the win streak rolling.