TV: Sun Sports, TNT
Radio: 580 WDBO
Game 1: Sixers 100, Magic 98
Game 2: Magic 96, Sixers 87
Game 3: Sixers 96, Magic 94
Tonight we have the Magic's first must-win game of the season, or at least as close to must-win as you can get. It's the most adversity the Magic have faced all season, and tonight will be a real test to see how good our team in Orlando really is.
For years, people have questioned whether Andre Iguodala can really be a go-to scorer on a good team. When the Sixers inked him to a $80 million extension, there were plenty of cynics. But in these first three games, he's proven more than capable of being the man. The Magic have had no answer for AI, including his game-winner in game one and his 29 points in game two. Whether because of his ankle or natural ability, Hedo Turkoglu hasn't been able to even phase Iguodala, but I don't expect Stan Van Gundy to switch up any personnel (i.e. play Pietrus more). We might see some strategic changes, though, such as a second defender shading Iguodala or Courtney Lee guarding Iguodala and getting underneath him.
Speaking of Turkoglu, it's time to see some offensive production out of him. He's playing himself out of a big contract next year - which is something that's clearly on his mind. He wants so badly to be Orlando's guy, the one they count on in the fourth quarter and the player that runs the offense. But he's not playing within himself. He played better in '07-'08 because he wasn't forcing anything; he was playing relaxed and taking what the defense gave him, rather than driving to the basket even when there's no opening. Turk needs to have more trust in his teammates and have the maturity to pass the ball out or reset the offense when it's not there.
The Magic have to find a way to hit some shots. Their eFG% has been well below their season average in the last two games, and they're not even hitting 30 percent of their 3-pointers. The Sixers are (for the most part) leaving Dwight Howard in one-on-one defense, which is allowing Dwight to get his points but shutting down the rest of the team. What's the answer? Keep feeding Dwight. Make them bring the double. Get Philly's big men in foul trouble. That's the best medicine for this team.
You want to say it's all on Howard to will this Magic team to a victory, but how much more can he do? He scored 67 points in the teams' two losses, and the team's defense suffers when he's off the floor. He needs some help.
The Sixers have a lot of confidence, which is the worst thing that could happen for the Magic. They needed to demoralize them early in the series, but that's clearly not going to happen. Philadelphia genuinely feels like its going to win the series - it's not a wish anymore.
Best of luck to Rashard Lewis, whose daughter is doing better but whose brother has been diagnosed with cancer. Lewis said the doctors said the cancer is curable, so that's good news.
Not much more to say about this one. The Magic need a W. Good teams win these types of games. A win here, and the Magic are in the driver's seat of the series once again.