The Orlando Magic are coming off of a back to back emotional win. They came from a gajillion points down against the Heat to win. I was watching the game and flipped it off at half time to go put the kids to bed and take care of some stuff around the house thinking I'd need to find something else to watch when I went back to the man cave.
Surprise, I come back and the lead is only 13 or so, and I think maybe I'll stick with it. Glad I did, awesome game to watch. Now the real question is, how does such an emotional come from behind win affect the Magic today? It's a short rest, and they might either ride the momentum, or they could have a big let down.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are coming off the exact opposite game. They just gave up a 19 point lead in a loss to Atlanta and have had a day to stew about it. I expect the Bulls to come out with extraordinary focus in this game, but it will be a tough one on the road.
Keys to the game
Make Dwight Howard beat you... all by himself
That's exactly what the Bulls did last game, and Howard had a monster game, but no one else on the Magic went off, and the Bulls won. The Magic have an inexplicable tendency to not feed Dwight 20 possessions in a row even if he's scoring on 15 of them.
Eventually, they decide it's more important to share the ball than to watch Dwight Howard dunk, and while noble, if everyone else is covered up, no one else on the team can really do much to help Howard out. They'll go away from Dwight for long stretches even when he's hot, so don't freak out and double Howard all night.
Now you probably can't go and leave Dwight in single coverage all game, you do need to mix up looks on him, but when possible, I'd double team by leaving Turkoglu or Arenas. I trust both of those guys to chuck shots and miss.
Stop the corner three
Defend the corner three with your life. Do not double by leaving the man in the corner. Stan Van Gundy is half stat geek as a coach. He'll tell you the most efficient shot in half-court basketball is the corner three.
He lives by the corner three. The Magic love to take threes, and they especially love to take them from the corners. Never leave the corner guy open. We've already established above that we're going to try to avoid doubling Howard too much, well don't ever double off the corner.
If Jameer Nelson gets some dribble penetration, don't help from the corner. Cover up the corner three.
Derrick Rose needs to get the Magic monkey off his back
Rose has not played well against the Magic, he's not driven the ball well, and he's been hit hard by Dwight Howard multiple times on fouls that fans wanted flagrants called. It's time to take the ball into the lion's den.
Dwight Howard goes up but he leans in with his body. Instead of fading away which leaves Rose with a greater chance of being upended, lean in to Howard, draw more fouls, take him out of the game, and come away safer.
Rose had a horrid game against Atlanta, and while his track record against Orlando isn't so hot, Rose guaranteed he wasn't going to let 'that' happen again (game against Atlanta). While I'm sure Rose will have a crappy game again in his career, and I'm sure the Bulls will lose some (probably many) of those crappy games, I do expect him to play well against Orlando.
Luol Deng needs to make Turkoglu his bitch again
Seriously, the way Deng absolutely dominated Turkoglu had to have left him crying in his pillow for weeks. Turkoglu is the perfect matchup for Deng in that he relies on junk offense to trick opponents and doesn't have elite athleticism or shooting. Deng's a tremendous fundamental defender and isn't likely to fall for the junk and his off-ball movement game works extremely well against Turkoglu.
I expect another big performance from Luol tonight.
What can Joakim do on Howard?
Noah's got to find a way to impact this game for the Bulls. Howard's everyone's worst nightmare, but he's one of the few guys who can neutralize Joakim's fast break ability, keep him off the offensive glass, and murder him on defense.
Noah's going to need a lot of heart tonight to make a big impact on the game, because he's got his work cut out for him.
I think it takes a great team defensive effort to win this game. The Bulls need to shut down the perimeter shooting and force the Magic into a tough night. While the Magic may be prone to a let down game, I'm sure they remember that last game they lost to Chicago at the united center and have a bad taste in their mouth from it.
Both teams are going to be going at this one hard and will want it badly.