The Orlando Magic are rolling. They are coming off an undefeated preseason (7-0), in which they defeated the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, and the Dallas Mavericks all of whom made the playoffs last season.Now the preseason is behind them and now every game counts, yet it seems as if the Magic have been playing like that since the beginning of the preseason.
Last night, the Magic played their first regular season game in their new home, The Amway Center. Again, the Magic started things off on the right foot as they defeated the Washington Wizards by a final score of 112-83. The Magic established and maintained control of the Washington Wizards throughout the game. After Vince Carter gave the Magic an 2-0 lead in the opening possession in the game there was no turning back. The Magic led the Wizards for the entirety of the game increasing their lead to 35 late in the third quarter.
Dwight Howard wasted no time in picking up his first double-double of the season as he scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and picked up three blocks in his 2010-2011 season debut. Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson made key contributions to the winning effort on Thursday, as Carter picked up 18 points and Nelson contributed 16 of his own.
Not indicated by the final score, is Orlando's 21 total team turnovers. The Wizards took advantage of Orlando's haphazard ball handling and turned those 21 turnovers into 29 points. If the Magic fail to take care of the ball tonight you can expect that the Miami Heat will seize the same, if not more, of those extra opportunities to gain them an advantage against the Magic.
However, LeBron James and the Miami Heat have struggled with taking care of the ball as well. In the first two games of the season, James alone has tuned the ball over a total of 17 times. As a team the Miami Heat have turned the ball over 33 times, and the Orlando Magic have the talent that could take advantage of those takeaways should the Heat continue with their careless handling of the basketball.
On opening night, the Magic scored a total of 56 points in the paint against the Wizards. If the Miami Heat have one weakness it's the absence of a true interior presence. In their first two games the Heat have surrendered a total of 78 points in the paint to their opposition; 38 to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday and then 40 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Joel Anthony their starting center has been known to pick up a block or two when he is in the game, but tonight he is facing a four-time All-Star in Dwight Howard whose size and power gives him the edge against almost any competition in the low post.
Tonight's game is exciting for two reasons. One, the first showdown between the Magic and the Heat was scheduled for last Friday due to poor playing conditions, so this is the first time we will get to see, the two Floridian powerhouses in the Southeastern division collide. Two, this game is riddled with talent. Between Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James the Heat have 17 years of combined All-Star experience between them. The Orlando Magic boast 15 years of All-Star experience between their starting five as well, in All-Stars Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, and Dwight Howard.
I believe that Dwight Howard will be the edge that the Magic need to defeat the Heat tonight. I think that his contributions on the interior will help to exploit the weakness of the Miami Heat. It won't be easy game for either team but I am picking Orlando to pull out a win in their first meeting against Miami's newly assembled Big Three.