Pump Up Music: Dropkick Muphys -- "Rocky Road to Dublin"
The Big Picture: Holy crap, the Bobcats are undefeated at home, and they've got a chance to continue that streak against a title-hopeful Magic team because Orlando's down a few key players. Rashard Lewis is still suspended, and key reserve Ryan Anderson will be out again with an ankle injury. Vince Carter will supposedly be a gametime decision, but with Orlando playing a back to back in Charlotte tonight and at home against Cleveland tomorrow, there will be a temptation to not risk Vince's health before the apparently tougher game.
The Cats head to Detroit tomorrow for the second half of their back to back, and then they'll have two days off before their next game, at home, against Portland. As much as we may bash Stephen Graham here, he's really kind of perfect for how many back to backs we have, since he can play filler at the two and three for stretches without completely embarrassing himself. The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth men need to be able to provide these kinds of minutes on a team that imagines itself a playoff contender, and in these next two games, here's hoping the minutes get spread through all twelve roster spots, just like the last back to back.
Key to Victory: Rebounding. Without Lewis, Orlando has actually attempted fewer threes than Charlotte this season in one more game. I haven't seen Orlando's offense this year, but that implies they're not spreading the floor the same way they did last year, with four guys around the perimeter and daring teams to double Dwight Howard inside.
Last year, Orlando was tremendous on the defensive boards, but spreading the floor left them extremely thin on the offensive boards. Thus far this year, they're not quite as good at defensive rebounding, but they're improved on the offensive glass, probably because of the changed style. They were content to let opponents get lots of rebounds as long as they were making lots of threes, too, but now that the three isn't such a potent weapon for them, they can't afford to allow so many boards off their misses and continue to be successful.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Chris Webber was the Magic's first pick of the 1993 draft, but was immediately traded for Anfernee Hardaway and three first round picks, the last of which ended up being Mike Miller, Rookie of the Year in 2000.