Orlando Magic @ New Jersey Nets

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All of the talk about the Magic in Orlando is about Sunday’s NBA Finals rematch between the Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers. But, before that, the Magic must head to New Jersey to play the Nets on Friday night. The Magic will look to win their fourth consecutive game while the Nets will try win for the seventh time this season. The Nets most recent loss came at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The Magic blew out the Golden State Warriors 117-90 Wednesday.

These two teams made huge headlines in the offseason when the Magic sent Courtney Lee, Tony Battie and Rafer Alston to the Nets in exchange for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.

These two teams met twice early in the season. The Magic won in New Jersey on October 30th and defeated the Nets at Amway Arena on November 13th 88-72.

The Nets are threatening to become the worst team in the history of the NBA record-wise. They are just 6-54. The Magic have the league’s third best record at 42-20. The Nets are have identical 3-27 records at home and on the road. The Magic are 18-14 away from home.

Tip-off from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST and you can watch the game locally on FSN Florida. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

The Line: Orlando – 10

Starters:

Orlando

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson

New Jersey

Brook Lopez
Yi Jianlian
Trenton Hassell
Chris Douglas-Roberts
Devin Harris

Courtney Lee’s status for the game is up in the air. Lee has missed the last two games with an injured ankle. Lee is hopeful that he can play but he is currently listed as doubtful. Lee also missed New Jersey’s last game with Orlando. He scored 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting in their first meeting.

New Jersey scores just 90.3 points per game and has the league’s least efficient offense.

Nets Center Brook Lopez has led the way on offense, scoring 19.2 points per game and grabbing 9.0 rebounds per game. Lopez has been one of the few bright spots for the Nets this season but has really struggled against Dwight Howard and the Magic. Lopez has gotten into foul trouble and has averaged just 7.5 points per game on 4-of-20 shooting against Orlando this season.

Devin Harris, who also missed the Nets last game against Orlando, has not shot ball well this season. He’s shooting 38.8% from the field and 24.2% from beyond the arc this season but with Orlando’s problems with defending opposing point guards, a talent like Harris could provide a big problem for the Magic.

New Jersey isn’t much better on defense. They give up 101.1 points per game and rank second-to-last in defensive efficiency.

Both teams play at a similar pace (Orlando – 94.9, New Jersey – 93.8).

Howard has also gotten the best of Lopez on the offensive end, scoring 23.0 points per game on 18-of-25 shooting. He’s also grabbing 17.0 rebounds per game.

The Magic just need to make sure they don’t look ahead to their showdown with the Lakers Sunday and give a good effort. The Nets may be 6-54 but they did defeat the Celtics in Boston on Saturday.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).