I’m traveling today, and am writing this from my iPhone. And so to preview tonight’s matchup, that means bullets. So, rat-at-tat-tat.
* Orlando *seems like* a bad team. Maybe they are one. But they have upped their record to 10-13 by winning 5 of their last 8 games. Those five wins include two versus the resurgent Warriors and one at Staples Center against Dwight Howard’s new team. They are not to be taken lightly, especially on their home floor.
* The Magic are currently ranked 8th in defense and 29th in offense. You might remember the 13-point 2nd Quarter they held the Wolves to at Target Center a short while back. (Oh, you blocked that from your memory? I should probably do the same. It was painful to watch.) Coach Jacque Vaughn has his talent-deprived team doing work on the defensive side of the floor, and the Wolves will be challenged to work for good shots.
*Because the Magic lack offensive talent, JJ Redick gets more opportunities than in previous years. He’s become a very valuable niche type role player, and is the kind of guy you sense has a chance to be a complementary bench player on a contender when he’s 40. He would’ve been perfect as the Steve Kerr/BJ Armstrong/John Paxon/Derek Fisher on a Phil Jackson team. I think he’d fit in here, too, as a replacement for Luke if/when Shved ever gets the non-Rubio pg minutes.
*Big Baby Davis looked terrible the first time the Wolves and Magic squared off this season. Punch-Drunk Wolves unanimously agrees Davis is among our least favorite players in the League. But he’s put up numbers this season – including some big scoring nights – and whomever is guarding him better get a hand in his face when he gets the ball at 17 feet (cc: Kevin Love) or it could be a long, frustrating night.
* Ricky Rubio will play tonight. As part of his “no back-to-backs,” (for a while anyway) policy, this means he is not expected to play tomorrow night at Miami. Bummer. That would have been fun to see. Still, we can’t fault the team for using caution with Ricky’s recovery process.