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Game Preview; Heat vs. Magic

Hello All, Tonight, the Heat (29-30) square off against the Magic (39-20). The Heat is clinging to its postseason life in the absence of Dwyane Wade, while Orlando is currently the second seed in the East and is considered one of the handful of teams with a chance to win it all. SIDENOTE: They also are one of a few teams that make these previews even more impossible to write well because I have to remember to type "Magic IS" in addition to "Heat IS" even though I am referring to a group of individuals. Am I bitter? Maybe a little. END SIDENOTE Wade will be a game time decision, but for the purpose of this blog I will assume he is out for the fifth straight game. This is a rivalry game and the Heat should be up for it, but the reality is that the Heat has been terrible in the second game of back-to-back sets, Wade’s absence leaves them without a go-to-guy in the clutch and the Magic boasts a versatile, DEEP roster that is only getting better as Vince Carter rounds in to form (as in, you know, realizing that it is ok to shoot within 18 feet of the basket). The Magic also boasts the Dan Stein MVP Sleeper of the Year (and pretty much every year) in JJ Reddick. I mean, what is not to love? He went to Duke. He is my favorite Blue Devil of all time. He bombs three pointers. He plays VERY mediocre defense. He is the backup to maybe the most selfish player of all time. And hey, if he got 40 shots a night I am pretty confident that he could average 20 points a game. So, yeah, expect this to turn into the Reddick Show in the absence of D-Wade. That’s right, I’m talking to you Steve. PROBABLE STARTERS Heat Magic PG Alston J. Nelson SG Cook V. Carter SF Richardson M. Barnes PF Beasley R. Lewis C O’Neal D. Howard STATISTICAL BREAKDWON (Stats from statsheet.com; 2/27/10) Effective Field Goal % The Heat is 18th in the league at 49.2%; the Magic is 3rd at 52.3%. EDGE: Magic Turnover % The Heat is 4th in the league at 13.1%; the Magic is 20th at 14.6% EDGE: Heat Offensive Rebound % The Heat is 19th in the league at 26%; the Magic is 26th at 23.6%. EDGE: Heat Free Throw Rate The Heat is 18th in the league at 29.3%; the Magic is 2nd at 34.3%. EDGE: Magic KEY TO THE GAME There is no reason the Magic shouldn’t win this game, barring an unforeseen monster night from Michael Beasley AND someone else, like J.O. or Quentin Richardson. However, one thing to keep an eye on is Jameer Nelson’s turnovers. Nelson has never been a true point guard and at times his free wheeling style gets the team in trouble (although within the Magic’s system he is quite effective). In the second half against New Orleans earlier this week he turned it over 5 times and was a big reason why the Magic lost the game. The Hornets are very similar to the Heat right now. They are without their star player, their best scoring option is an undersized power forward who is clearly better as a second option at this point and the rest of their team is filled with role players. The Magic should win the game; Nelson’s decision making is the key. Always guard the inbound passer.