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AM 1030 WONQ Previous meetings:
Magic 103, Raptors 90, Nov. 18 Raptors 108, Magic 102, Jan. 4 Magic 113, Raptors 90, Feb. 1
|PG Jose Calderon
||PG Rafer Alston
|SG Anthony Parker
||SG Courtney Lee
|SF Shawn Marion
||SF Hedo Turkoglu
|PF Chris Bosh
||PF Rashard Lewis
|C Andrea Bargnani
||C Dwight Howard
First off, I apologize if my posts are minimal over the next week or so. I've gotta concentrate on some technical stuff in preparation for the switch to TrueHoop, so that will be taking much of my OMD time. Anyway, the Magic have a little bit more leeway in the race for the No. 2 seed now that Kevin Garnett is going to miss the rest of the regular season. I'm not saying the Magic can go .500 down the stretch and still be No. 2, but I think 7-2 or maybe even 6-3 could do it. It's important to beat the non-playoff teams, though - like the Raptors. Three keys for the Magic: 1. Get Bargnani in foul trouble, or hope he's off.
Dwight Howard will be matched up with Andrea Bargnani, who does most of his work out at the perimeter. We all know this doesn't make a happy Dwight. Howard hates guarding guys all the way out to the 3-point line, and it makes Orlando's defense worse because Howard isn't lingering near the basket to soar in for the weak-side blocks. The trade-off is that Bargnani has no ability to stop Howard in the post. Howard is averaging 34 points in his last two games against Toronto. 2. Do what they do better.
With Shawn Marion, the Raptors like to run up and down the court and play a similar tempo as the Magic do. It makes it difficult for the Magic to blow out the Raptors, and it gives the Raptors a fighting chance against a much more talented team. When the Raptors beat the Magic earlier in the year, the Magic played well on offense but couldn't keep the Raptors from scoring. It may even be in the Magic's best interest to slow it down considerably and make use of No. 12. 3. Hit your 3s.
Call it bad defense by the Raptors or good offense by the Magic - Orlando is hitting 45 percent of its 3s in three game against Toronto this year. If the Magic can hit their 3s, they should take care of business in this one. I'll admit, though, I'm a little worried about this game. The Raptors are hot, and Cleveland is looming on Friday night.