Denton: Davis Expects to be Ready for Game 1

By John Denton
April 26, 2012

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Even though he’s still dealing with pain and some swelling in his right ankle, Orlando Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis knows he’s actually very fortunate.

Davis violently sprained his right ankle Wednesday night when he accidentally stepped on the foot of Charlotte’s Byron Mullens. The injury knocked Davis out of much of Wednesday’s game and all of Thursday’s regular-season finale at Memphis, but he hopes to return by Saturday’s playoff opener against the Indiana Pacers.

Davis spent much of Thursday with his ankle wrapped in ice. He was walking gingerly on the ankle throughout the day, but he didn’t require a walking boot for support. ``I hurt really bad at the time, but it could have been worse,’’ Davis said. ``I think it’ll be 110 percent (by Saturday).’’

Figuring that the Magic couldn’t take a chance on getting other players injured before the playoffs, head coach Stan Van Gundy gave starters Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson and Davis the night off on Thursday. The Magic had nothing to gain with the game, and Van Gundy opted to rest the players so that the team can have a practice on Friday to prepare for the Pacers.

Hedo Turkoglu started Thursday after missing the last three weeks with fractures below his right eye. Turkoglu hoped to find some rhythm in his game before the playoffs start. Van Gundy said he had to fight the urge to play the other starters so they could play alongside of Turkoglu, but he said the short-handed Magic simply couldn’t take the risk of more injuries. Instead, the Magic started Chris Duhon and Von Wafer at the guards, Earl Clark and Turkolgu at the forward slots and Daniel Orton at center.

``Once we found out for sure that we were playing on Saturday, and ending on a back-to-back and trying to get practice on (Friday) and us not being able to afford any injuries, we’re just not going to play guys at all,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I thought about playing our other guys the first quarter at least to have them all play together, but I was just too worried about guys putting in too many minutes.’’

UNDERDOGS? About to head into his sixth consecutive year in the playoffs, Magic point guard Jameer Nelson has been on both sides as it relates to being in the favorite or underdog positions in the first round.

The Magic actually have the longest streak in the Eastern Conference of consecutive playoff appearances with six. Atlanta and Boston are second with five, while Chicago and Miami are third with four straight playoff trips.

The Magic were prohibitive underdogs in Nelson’s first playoff appearance in 2007, and they were swept by the Detroit Pistons. The Magic won in the first round as heavy favorites each of the next three years, beating Toronto, Philadelphia and Charlotte. They lost to the Hawks as favorites last spring in the first round.

Entering the playoffs as the sixth seed and without franchise center Dwight Howard, the Magic are clearly the underdogs against the third-seeded Pacers. But Nelson said his team will use the underdog role as fuel for the playoffs and the Magic go in knowing that if they play their best basketball they can pull off a shocker against Indiana.

``One thing is we understand that we’re still a good team,’’ Nelson said. ``We know that people are going to put us as the underdogs because we’re the lower seeds, but the one thing we know is that if we stick together and play with the intensity and energy that we’ve been playing with, good things will happen for us.’’

ETC: Van Gundy originally planned for the Magic to have a team meeting Thursday morning where they would start formulating the game plan for the Pacers’ playoff series. However, Van Gundy cancelled the meeting and his coaching staff instead used the day to watch film and prepare for Friday’s practice in Indianapolis. Said Van Gundy: ``We decided as a staff that we’d spend the time as a staff getting more film on Indiana, so we’d know exactly what it is we want to cover (Friday) in practice. We’re just not going to have much turnaround time. It’s been a crazy year and it will be crazy playoffs too. We’ll get one day and we’ll have to prioritize what we do in practice. We’ve got film ready to show our team and we’ll be ready to go by (Friday).’’ … Prior to Thursday night, Redick had been the only Magic player to appear in every game this season for Orlando. The only other time that Redick played in every game during the regular season was when he appeared in all 82 games during the 2009-10 season. … Many of the Magic players got a chance to reacquaint with Gilbert Arenas, who played 49 games with Orlando last season after a trade with the Washington Wizards. Arenas, now a member of the Grizzlies, averaged 8.0 points during the regular season and 8.6 points in five playoff games with the Magic last spring.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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