By: Jeremy Hyman
After dropping another tough one to the Cavs on Wednesday night, the Wizards look to bounce back tonight when they host the Orlando Magic at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Magic won the first game in the series, 90-83, last Wednesday in Orlando.
The Wizards shook up the roster over the holiday break and added two new guards to the lineup; Shelvin Mack & Garrett Temple. They wasted no time getting them involved as Mack jumped right in to the starting lineup on Wednesday, while Temple closed the game out. The two did a nice job filling in at the point guard spot and will likely be relied upon to continue to run the offense until John Wall returns from injury.
The last time these two teams met, Nene scored a season-high 20 points, but the Wizards could not complete the fourth-quarter comeback and fell, 90-83. That was the Magic's last win, as they have lost three straight since, but only by a combined 10 points. In that game, the Magic's second leading scorer, Glen Davis, injured his shoulder and is now expected to miss another month. With Davis out of the lineup, the Magic lost their best offensive post player and are now limited when the game is played in the paint. Gustavo Ayon has stepped into the starting lineup and does not pose the same threat as Davis on the offensive end.
After breaking his hand on opening night, Hedo Turkoglu could return to the Magic lineup, which would be a big lift for them offensively. According to OrlandoMagic.com, he is expected to take part in morning shootaround and then get shots up 90 minutes prior to the game. If he is cleared by Magic trainers, he will play limited minutes off the bench. Even a limited Turkoglu will still give the Magic a spark they need after losing three games in a row and his presence alone will stretch the Wizards defense out as he can be a lethal three point shooter.
The Wizards have gotten solid production from their starting bigs over the past two weeks. Emeka Okafor is averaging 9.3 rebounds in his last six games, while grabbing 10 or more rebounds in four of his last six games. Nene is averaging 16.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while shooting .625 (25-of-40) from the field in his last five games. If they can continue their strong play and Kevin Seraphin can bounce back with a solid night off the bench, the Wizards will give themselves a great chance to win against a banged up Magic front line.
After scoring in double figures in nine of his previous ten games, Bradley Beal tied a season low with two points on Wednesday night and only played 21 minutes in the Wizards loss to the Cavs. Tonight will be a good test for Beal to see how the 19 year old is able to bounce back as the Wizards will need him to score from the perimeter and attack the rim.
With the two new point guards on hand, it will likely mean that Jordan Crawford sees more time at the off guard position which will take some of the pressure off of Beal. Crawford is the team's leading scorer and had been playing point guard while John Wall and A.J. Price sat out with injuries. With Crawford expected to now play off the ball more, Beal's minutes should decrease, but his productivity will still be counted on as he is one of the team's best scorers.
On the other side will be the Magic's leading scorer, Arron Afflalo. While it was their point guard, Jameer Nelson, who dropped in a game-high 28 points in their loss on Wednesday night, Afflalo is their most prolific scorer and has really transformed from a defensive specialist into an all-around two-guard. His points per game have gone up every year since his rookie season in 2007-08. The Wizards did a good job defending him last Wednesday, holding him to just 33% shooting (6-18), and if they can do that again they should be in a good spot to get a home win.
In the below clip, Beal goes in for the jam.
In this clip, Beal finds Nene for the dunk.