What have the Orlando Magic done lately?
Oooh, sorry you asked. Orlando has dropped seven in a row. After holding their own at the start of the season and even earning some headlines after Nikola Vucevic's 30-20 game in November, the team has started to plummet and is in fact challenging the Milwaukee Bucks for worst team going. A big part of this most recent skid can be attributed to Vucevic, as well, who has missed the last four games with a concussion and will miss the final game of Orlando's five game road trip tonight(as will leading scorer Arron Afflalo).
What change will Vucevic's absence cause for Orlando?
It makes them a decidedly worse rebounding team, which is good news for a Dallas squad that struggles in this area, also. Another change, relative to the start of the season, is that rookie Victor Oladipo has been elevated to the starting lineup, and is playing more shooting guard than he was previously, when Orlando and head coach Jacque Vaughn were giving him extensive burn at point guard. Whether or not this is Oladipo's longterm position remains to be seen, but so far he has been more efficient at the two.
What Magic player might be due for a big game?
Tobias Harris is another young, talented player for Orlando that is still searching for a defined position. After missing the first month and a half of the season as he dealt with ankle issues, Harris is beginning to find his groove. He scored a season-high 22 Saturday in a loss to Denver, and as Harris showed last year, he is capable of some monster games.
Looking at who is available tonight for Orlando, you get the sense Harris will get lots of chances to put up shots. No Vucevic, no Afflalo. Jameer Nelson is dealing with a sprained finger on his shooting hand, and Maurice Harkless has been limited by a sore knee.
What does Dallas have to do to pull out the victory?
Arriving to the court in one piece will already give them an advantage over the banged up Magic. As of this morning I have not heard any update on Shawn Marion, but I am leaning toward saying he will be out again tonight. On paper, this looks like a victory for Dallas, but in the NBA you never know when someone has an upset up their sleeve. Orlando has nothing to lose and will likely throw the kitchen sink at Dallas. However, chances are this one will be relatively stress-free.