Note: since there is no basketball, and we were supposed to have games, we will imagine there were games. With the help of AccuScore, Strat-o-Matic and Basketball Prospectus, we can imagine an NBA season even if there is not one actually going on. So with that, we begin to imagine the 2011-12 season.
Some games Dwight Howard shows he is human. Some games, the fouls and the frustration get the better of him. And some games, the opponent just has his number.
A lot of these games, the Magic become a different team. Depending on the matchup, the strategy completely changes and some of the holes in this roster are revealed. Of course, some games a player steps up and fills the void, making the opponent wish Howard were still in the game.
Dwight Howard's foul trouble hampered him throughout Wednesday's simulated game against the Jazz, leaving him on the floor for just 26 minutes. Luckily for Orlando, Jason Richardson had the hot hand. Richardson scored 24 points and hit six of his seven 3-pointers to help key a late run to secure the Magic's 107-93 win in the Strat-O-Matic simulation.
The Magic had control early winning the first quarter 31-22, but had to hold on as Howard struggled to stay on the floor in the second half. The Jazz closed to within three to start the fourth quarter. But the Magic used a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter to close the game and pull away. Brandon Bass, playing off the bench for the first times this season after tweaking his ankle in practice earlier this week (not really, but hey this is fiction, right?) had eight of his 16 points in the run. Bass said his ankle was a little sore, but he felt good after the win.
Six Orlando players scored in double figures and the post players worked hard to hold Utah's duo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to 21 points and 16 rebounds on 7-for-19 shooting. A strong effort with Howard on the bench with fouls.
Still, the Jazz got solid contributions off the bench from Earl Watson, Memo Okur and Derrick Favors to take advantage of some of Orlando's smaller bench lineups.
It did not matter as Turkoglu took advantage of his matchup with Millsap to score 18 points. He made seven of his 13 field goal attempts, including three of six from long range. Turkoglu also continued to pass the ball well, adding seven assists and bringing his Strat-O-Matic season average to 5.8 assists per game.
The Magic seem to have found a nice groove. They are not turning the ball over too much and the defense remains strong this season. We will see how this goes once the season gets to the grind (hopefully not).
AccuScore continues to have the Magic struggling. The team fell to the Jazz 96-95 getting a huge game from Dwight Howard but with little help. That sounds like a formula. At 1-4 in the AccuScore simulations, it makes you think there are underlying problems to the roster that Strat-O-Matic is not seeing (amazing what some good coaching will do).
In real life, the players and owners are still at the negotiating table trying to get a deal done. There are rumors that the players are willing to go to 50/50 if the owners give them concessions on system issues -- specifically on the mid-level exception and the structure of the luxury tax. David Stern's ultimatum passed without much fanfare as the two sides were still working to get a deal done.
They will meet again today. We will see how everyone slept on what was discussed this afternoon.