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Game #61: Orlando Magic (39-22) vs. Miami Heat (43-17)

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Coming off of their tough home loss to New York last Sunday, the NBA schedule makers did the Heat a favor by giving them a few days off heading into tonight's game against Orlando.  I hope they enjoyed it because it's going to be a while before D-Wade and Co. have any extra time off in between games.  A very difficult stretch that combines tough opponents with little time off is upon the Heat.

This evening's game will kick-off probably the most challenging 3-game in 4-night set that Miami has seen in quite some time.  After facing the Magic tonight, they immediately head west to play at San Antonio tomorrow night and then come right back home for a Sunday matinee against the Bulls.  If nothing else, it will surely be one hell of a test for Miami.

Looking past the weekend, the Heat is going to be playing a lot of games over the next couple weeks without having much time off in between.  Following this back-to-back with the Magic and Spurs, the Heat will then play a game every other day until two weekends from now, when they play Atlanta and Denver on consecutive nights.  Needless to say, Heat fans have a lot of games to look forward to in the month of March.

As for tonight's matchup against Orlando, it will be the 4th and final meeting of the season between the cross-state rivals.  The Heat has won 2 of the first 3 games, meaning a win tonight would give them the tiebreaker, a luxury that Miami hasn't been able to afford against other top teams in the Eastern Conference.  The Magic trail Miami by 4½ games in the Southeast Division, so while it would be nice to hold the tiebreaker, hopefully there will be no need to apply it.  

Both Orlando and Miami have had their struggles against the better teams in the league.  The last time the Heat beat a team that was above .500 was back on February 3rd when they won in Orlando thanks in part to LeBron James' 51-point outburst.  The Magic went almost an entire month, from January 12th to February 11th, without beating a team with a winning record.  They have since won 3 straight games against above .500 teams. 

GAME NOTES

  • Miami is just 13-14 against teams that are .500 or better. 
  • Dwight Howard has recorded a double double in 51 of the 59 games he has played in this season. 
  • In the 3 games against the Heat, Howard is averaging 20.0 points and 13.7 boards. 
  • The Magic has won 3 straight games and 5 of their last 6. 
  • Udonis Haslem (foot) and Dexter Pittman (knee) are out for the Heat
  • As for Orlando, Daniel Orton (knee) is out while Gilbert Arenas (knee) and Jameer Nelson (ankle) are probable.  

Tipoff from the AAA is set for 8pm.  The game will be televised nationally on TNT as well as locally on Sun Sports.  If you want to go to the game but don't have tickets, don't forget about Peninsula Is Mightier's partnership with TiqIQ that not only helps you get tickets right here on PIM but they also search through several ticket selling websites and finds you the best deals out there.  Click here to see what's available.