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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Magic face formidable opening-night challenge vs Bulls

The day we've been waiting for since the schedule was announced on August 1st is finally here! The Magic open the 2006-07 season against the Bulls tonight at TDW (or whatever they're going to rename it).

The Bulls are coming into Orlando on a high after going into Miami and absolutely crushing the defending champions 108-66. All 12 players for the Bulls scored, led by Kirk Hinrich's 26 pts and Chris Duhon off the bench with 20. The Bulls are very deep, as their reserves combined to score 55 pts. The Bulls interior defense is much-improved, and they tended to run out on the break after getting a defensive rebound, and burned the Heat on the fast break.

Many experts gave the Bulls a chance to be a championship contender this season. After watching them obliterate the Heat, you can see why. Granted though, it's only one game, and as we've pointed out on previous posts, the Heat have lots and lots of problems.

The probable Bulls starting lineup: PG Hinrich SG Ben Gordon C Ben Wallace PF P.J. Brown SF Luol Deng. Key reserves: Duhon, Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Adrian Griffin, Victor Khryapa.

In what could be a big break for the Magic, Chris Duhon, who shot 7 of 8 against the Heat, re-injured his sore foot, and his status for tonight's game is not known. Also, talented rookie Tyrus Thomas suffered a broken nose in a hard collision, and probably will miss tonight's game. However, Scott Skiles was able to give his regulars rest, as only Hinrich played more than 28 minutes.

Some key questions for tonight's game:

-How much playing time will Darko receive?
-How will the Magic fare offensively against imposing Bulls C Ben Wallace? I know Dwight won't be intimidated, but will he have success?
-If Jameer starts slow, will Hill bench him and give Carlos the majority of the playing time? Carlos is coming off a solid preseason.
-Can the Magic hit their outside shots to spread the Bulls defense, and open things up in the low post for Dwight?

We'll find out the answers to those and many more questions tonight!

11 Comments:

  • At 7:19 AM, Blogger Brutal said…

    I doubt the Bulls are as good as they looked in Miami. The Heat however really have some issues to work out, they looked old and tired.

    Orlando is much more athletic than Miami and should give Chicago a better test. An excellent first week matchup that will be a solid indicator of where both teams stand.

    Given the fact Chicago played last night and could come in flat and since Orlando should be very up for this game I see a narrow Magic win. Say 82-79 Orlando.

     
  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Chicago was able to rebound many missed shots by Miami and run, and Miami's interior defense was softer than jelly. They also made jump shots, and jump shooting teams look incredible when their shots are falling. If Hill plays Darko alongside Dwight, and our interior defense holds up, especially preventing Heinrich's dribble penetration, we will be fine. We have too many good perimeter defenders to allow the same kind of melt down that happened to Miami. I predict a 102-94 win for the Magic. It is time for Big Figure's pre-game analysis.

     
  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Brutal said…

    No way are that many points going to be scored tonight. The Bulls will not allow many teams to score 100 this year and the Magic defense is really pretty good.

    The rest of your analysis is pretty much on target.

     
  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Welcome to the blog, Brutal. Your logic is sound and I do not disagree with it. However, I have this feeling that Magic may fall behind early, and the court may turn into a shooting gallery.

     
  • At 12:10 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Yes its time. Three keys to a magic victory,(1)the magic must defend with their feet tonight and be effective slowing the bulls guards,dribble penetration is going to come in all sorts of ways from the bulls,they're gonna pick-n-roll us to death,plus dribble hand-offs and fast breaks,we start four guys 6ft8 or better,they start four guys 6ft8 or smaller,so this will be a match-up of size against quickness,the team that can impose their will,will win the game.(2) The magic must attack the basket,we cannot try and shoot with the bulls,we have two starters that can attempt three's with some consistency,they have three starters that can hit three's,plus about another three guys that can come off the bench and hit three's,so attacking the basket in our half court set or in transition is going to be mandatory.(3)turnovers-low turnovers against this type of team is very important,when we're passing the ball we cannot take risks in transition ala steve francis,if running doesnt present itself take what they give you a pound the ball inside where we outsize them,at that time i beleive they will double dwight all night long because of their team speed and skile's feeling like they can recover defensively out of double teams and try and force us to become a jumpshooting team by making dwight pass out of double teams,dwight has to be sharp with his passes (which knock on wood,he was in the pre-season). My personal opinion the magic have their hands full because of the size differences which will call for some coaching to be involved matchup wise,and our coach doesnt excell at making in game adjustments when it comes to matchups,and the fact that the bulls played last night their going to be a confident and cohesive unit,i dont know if i can say the same for us with our starters not playing very many minutes together in the pre-season,plus its too early in the season to think the bulls will come in sluggish,they've had a whole summer off,trust me their ready to play,looking at the way last years games went down score wise,matt's prediction of score was about right,magic by five in my opinion,right around 90-100 points for both teams. brutal glad to have you on our blog,enjoy!

     
  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    I am not feeling real good about this game. Chicago is on a mission after getting Wallace & Brown.

    But I look forward to how Howard plays against a frontline that includes Wallace and Nocioni.

    My sense is that the Magic can win if they can shoot from outside and hit free throws. If they can't it all falls on Howard and that may be too much to ask.

     
  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    I tend to believe that back-to-backs are a lot harder at the start of the season where conditioning is not at the highest level. Granted that Chicago did not have to play starters for extended minutes last night, but any number of minutes played should count for something. Of the non-starters, Nocioni who is more instrumental than Brown, played many minutes to the end. They also may not have the services of Duhon. I expect that Grant will push the ball early on looking for an advantage, and if it does not work, he would be quickly replaced by Keyon or Keith to establish order on parameter defense. If we use Darko and Dwight together, we should be able to put pressure on Chicago's interior defense. After all, Brown is not in his prime to be able to withstand a Double-D attack. We should exploit that match up so that Chicago would be busy defending rather than attacking.

     
  • At 1:44 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    I'm not feeling overly confident about tonight's game either. What it comes down to is preparation. If the Magic come out ready, they should pull out a victory. It's obvious after last night's beating of the NBA Chumps the Bulls are ready. I don't know where the Magic and their starting 5 are right now being that I haven't really seen them play much together yet. Regardless, I think the game will be close. I don't see the Magic punking out on the home opener like the Heat did last night. It should help that the Bulls got the big win last night being that I wouldn't picture them losing 2 games in a row. As far as what brutal said, welcome to the blog by the way, I don't know how much the Bulls defense will affect the Magic. Hell, I don't know how much defense in general this year will play a role. All of these rule changes favors the offense, and is leading to the death of defense. Physically defenders are a lot more limited than they used to be. If the Magic pound the ball inside out like Bigfigure said, they should be able to have they way. They just have to play smart, limit turnovers, and not settle for the outside shot. I expect the presence of the Twin Towers to be made known tonight. I expect Dwight to have a monster game and to make his name known in game 1 of the season against Big Ben. Grant Hill will be impressive. I'm not sure who will follow, but I'm predicting a Magic win, 101-96.

     
  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    The Bulls are favored by 2 pts over the Magic tonight (www.pinnaclesports.com).

    All you guys bring up good points in your pre-game analysis. It should be noted that in the first quarter of last night's game, the Bulls shot just 5 of 20, but went to the FT line 17 times because of their aggressive offense. Then, from the 2nd quarter on, the Bulls shot lights-out.

    The Magic will have to hit their outside shots in order to have a chance to beat the Bulls. Dwight will need to have success too down low, but he can't do it himself, especially against Big Ben, and will need help. I would hope Darko sees a lot of playing time, because he complements Dwight so well and would give the Bulls solid D something else to watch for.

    Chris Duhon says that he will play for sure tonight. Also, rookie guard Thabo Sefolosha scored 11 pts on 4 of 4 shooting against the Heat. Expect Ben Gordon to bounce back after shooting just 1 of 9 last night.

    The Magic defense will have to get back on D really quick after a missed shot. The Bulls dominated the transition and fast-break game last night. I expect the Magic to fast-break a lot to try and take advantage of a team that played last night. As was mentioned, the Magic are much more athletic than the old, slow Heat,

    Scott Skiles is too good a coach to let his team come out flat tonight.

    With all that said, I expect the Magic to come out with their 'A' game in front of a sold-out home crowd and edge the Bulls in what should be a great game to watch (say Magic 98, Bulls 97). However, anything less than their 'A' game will result in a Magic loss.

     
  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    I think Bulls' strengths are exaggerated. They were good in team's defense even last year and they got better with adding Ben Wallace. However, as I said before, they are just a jump shooting team and they do not have any post-up palyer. The problem with jump shooting teams is that when the shots are falling, they look awesome, and when they are not falling, they look awful. I mentioned that before, when they acquired Ben Wallace, that they are still the same team with a better defense. In the process they lost Chandler and his offensive presence on the post. Are they a better team than last year? Yes, but they still are not gonna be able to beat legitimate contenders in a best of seven series. Heck, they cannot beat this Miami team in a best of seven series, when Miami is ready and primed come play-off time.

     
  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    DAMN.

    Lets go Magic!

     

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