Savage: Ten Things I Want to See on Wednesday

By Dan Savage
December 20, 2011

ORLANDO -- With Magic basketball set to return to Amway Center on Wednesday,’s Dan Savage runs down 10 things he wants to see in Orlando’s final preseason matchup, including more plays for Jason Richardson, improvements in transition and fan love for Dwight Howard.

1) Basketball at Amway Center: It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for since last season ended: The start of basketball at Amway Center. Sure, it’s still the preseason, but it will be nice to see basketballs once again hitting the court in the best arena the NBA has to offer – especially after an extended offseason.

2) Overwhelming Love for Dwight: Regardless of what happens on the court Wednesday, the predominant discussion among talking heads following the matchup will be about Dwight Howard. The media will break down his performance, analyze whether or not he appeared engaged and if the Magic faithful gave him a warm reception. So I’m hoping Magic fans show their superstar center plenty of love just like they did on Saturday.

3) Plays for J-Rich: Stan Van Gundy said at the start of training camp that he’s looking to run more plays for Jason Richardson this season. The Magic’s head coach stayed true to his word, calling a play or two at the start of Sunday’s Sunshine State showdown to get Orlando’s shooting guard going. Let’s hope Van Gundy sticks with his game plan, because having an effective J-Rich is essential if the Magic want to be championship contenders.

4) Mighty Mouse: After a dismal 0-for-10 shooting performance in the Magic’s preseason opener, Jameer Nelson will look to make his second straight exhibition contest against the Heat a better one. I fully expect Nelson to attack the basket, be more aggressive and find his golden touch in this matchup. In a perfect world, he excels to the point that fans are referring to him by his superhero alter ego after the game.

5) Heart & Hustle: No, I’m not talking about seeing the throwback Magic squad of the past known as “Heart & Hustle,” I’m referring to Orlando’s ability to get back on defense and slow down Miami’s fastbreak. After a seven month layoff from organized hoops, the Magic did not look fully up to speed in transition on Sunday, getting outscored 22-0 in fastbreak points. If the statline breaks in the Heat’s favor like that again, expect a similar result. If that number is closer to even, expect a much more competitive contest.

6) Rookies in the Rotation: Although Van Gundy has expressed that he’s not comfortable using more than a nine-man rotation in the preseason, I’d still like to see Justin Harper and DeAndre Liggins get some burn. Harper has drawn comparisons to Rashard Lewis and Liggins has been mentioned as a potential high-end wing defender. What better time to see what they have to offer than in an exhibition matchup with the defending Eastern Conference champions?

7) Aggressiveness: In’s media day interviews with the Magic, players such as Chris Duhon talked about the need to be more aggressive this season. While Sunday’s meeting had some slight flashes of aggressiveness, I want to see it on a more consistent basis on Wednesday.

8) More Von Wafer: Other than Dwight Howard, you can make an argument that no player has been talked about more than Von Wafer in our training camp interviews with the team. Based on his practice performances, he was showered with praise in regards to his athleticism and play-making ability. Now I want to see it in game action.

9) Second Unit Step Up: In their first matchup, the Heat fired off 36 points in the fourth quarter using mostly end of the bench players. That can’t happen again.

10) My Media Seat: It’s been about seven months since I’ve hopped in my media seat and conducted a live chat on That’s far too long of a time. I can’t wait to sit down in Amway Center and take it all in. Hopefully, you’ll be joining me there.

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