Orlando Magic @ Washington Wizards


The Orlando Magic are the Eastern Conferenced’s hottest team. They will attempt to win their eighth straight game when they travel to Washington D.C. to take on the Wizards on Saturday night. The Wizards enter the game having lost six in a row and will be playing for the third staight day. They dropped the first two games against Atlanta and Detroit. The Magic most recently defeated the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

The Magic have done an excellent job of beating up on bad teams as of late and the Wizards are another bad team, but this bad team is 2-0 against the Magic this season. They came from behind to defeat the Magic in Washington 104-91 on January 8th and then rallyed from a 21-point first quarter deficit to win in Orlando on Feburary 5th on a Caron Butler jumper.

Of course, the Wizards have a much different look to them now. The heros of those two games – Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler have all since been traded. On February 13th, the Wizards sent Haywood, Butler and former Magic Guard DeShawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Quinton Ross, James Singleton, Drew Gooden and Josh Howard. They then shipped Drew Gooden to Washington and Antawn Jamison to Cleveland in deal that netted them Al Thornton, Emir Preldzic and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who they’ve since bought out).

The Wizards enter the game at 21-42, last in the Southeast division. The Magic lead the Southeast by four games over the Atlanta Hawks and their 46-20 is second-best in the Eastern Conference. Orlando is 19-14 on the road while the Wizards are 21-42 at home.

Tip-off from the Verizon Center in D.C. is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST and the game will be shown locally by Sun Sports and nationally by NBA TV. 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 – 11.5


Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson

Washington Wizards

JaVale McGee
Andray Blatche
Al Thornton
Mike Miller
Randy Foye

Josh Howard is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

Offensively, the Wizards score 97.0 points per game and rank 22nd in efficiency (101.6).

Big men Andray Blatche and Javale McGee have stepped up for the Wizards. Blatche averaged 21.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in February and is averaging 20.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in March. McGee has shown flashes of being a solid player. The 22-year old Center has finally received consistent minutes since the trades and is averaging 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game in March and that includes a 20-point, 9-rebound performance against the Hawks on Thursday.

Magic Center and frontrunner to repeat as Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard will have the task of shutting down the paint. He leads a Magic defense that now ranks first in efficiency (99.4) and gives up just 95.1 points per game.

Randy Foye, as opposing point guards so often do, has given the Magic some problems this season. Foye is averaging 21.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in two games against the Magic this season. A healthy Jameer Nelson should help the Magic here. Sure, Nelson still has problems on defense and Foye has some advantages over him, but now that Nelson is healthy, he looks much quicker on both ends of the floor.

Orlando (94.9) and Washington (94.5) play at a very similar pace.

Defensivley, the Wizards don’t fare much better. They rank 20th in efficiency (106.4) and give up 101.2 points per game. Orlando counters with the sixth most efficient offensve. They score 101.9 points per game.

The Wizards should not provide much of a problem for the Magic should the Magic come to play, especially considering that it is Washington’s third game in three days.

(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).