Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Night Preview

     Here we are, another Thursday night. Another night of NBA action with four teams squaring off tonight for what looks to be some fantastic games. Dwight Howard and crew, who are coming off a 3 game winning streak, are set to face the Heatles on their own stage. Then the now superstar-less Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz battle. Who will prevail tonight? Well, let's break things down and I'll give you my pick.

Orlando Magic (39-22) at Miami Heat (43-17)

     They don't have to travel far to face their state sharing enemies, but with such a big game on the line it may be a good thing for the Magic to not have a severe case of jet lag. With the regular season's end quickly creeping up this match-up could very well be a strong preview of what's to come playoff time.

     The Heat just acquired veteran guard Mike Bibby, as I discussed in my last article, who could be a strong factor in tonight's game. Although he is new to the system, if he can hit a shooting rhythm and space the floor with the Big Three I expect some dangerous offense to come out of Miami. Something that could severely hurt this new look Orlando team.

LeBron sets out to have another monster game vs. the Magic,
but can he do it?
(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
     With their mid-season acquistions of Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gilbert Arenas this Magic team is no longer a "play hard defense, shoot a million threes team". No, they've changed direction to a Mike D'Antoni philosophy of scoring as many possible points to win the game. Granted, the upgrade to their system seems to have finally started working as the Magic have won 5 of their last 6.

     The thing to take note of though is the fact that both teams are notoriously poor against teams with a .500% record or better, especially the Heat who are a 13-14 against such teams. Now, I don't really understand how the Heat expect to go far into the playoffs when they are terrible against you know... teams that are in the playoff race, but hey I could be wrong. Maybe BronBron will set off for another 51-point night against the Magic? Although, the way Superman has been playing as of late I don't see that happening.

     What I do see happening is this:
  • Dwight Howard will continue to play on Ultimate Beast Mode.
  • The Magic will go guns blazin' to try and outscore the Heat.
  • Mike Bibby will perform solidly, but not near the level the Heat would like of him.
  • Dwayne Wade will suck against a good team.
  • Chris Bosh will complain and look like a fish.
     Home-court is always a factor when it comes to these kind of games, but the way the Orlando Magic have been playing as of late it's hard to not acknowledge that. I don't see this Heat team losing to the Magic by much, but I do predict them to be the winner in the end. Dwight Howard is polishing his offensive game on a day-to-day basis and the remainder of his team are slowly beginning to pick up the slack.

The Magic are on a roll and Dwight Howard is at his finest, but can they capitalize
and defeat the Heat?
     Bibby may be a dark horse, but I think not. He's not into the system yet and even with the Heatles around him I don't think he will mesh well quickly. Not to mention his shooting has been horrendous his last couple of games. Although, when you have LeBron James on your team it's hard to make an argument that you won't win, but you can't deny the facts of how Superman's Crew is playing. All in all though I have the Magic winning over the Heat, but not by much.

Winner: Orlando Magic

     Like I said, Ultimate Beast Mode.

Denver Nuggets (36-26) at Utah Jazz (32-29)

     Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams. Two of the biggest names in basketball, two of the best players at not only their respective positions but in the entire league. They were the faces of their respective franchises and recently were both traded off to different teams due to their lack of interest in staying with the team that drafted them.

The Denver Nuggets are red-hot right now and
guard J.R. Smith is a factor in that.
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
     Was it the right decision to let go of these players? To an idiot, no. To someone who could see that they would just leave when free agency hit and that they gained something in trading them, yes. Although, how prominent will these respective teams be without their superstars? Not to mention, how exciting would a game without them be? In my opinion, they will still be great teams and it will still be a great game. Let me elaborate.

     Both the Nuggets and the Jazz not only acquired a handful of solid players after trading off their respective superstars, but they both lacked immense amounts of depth before they left. This is why I believe both teams will still be very viable teams as the season progresses and for seasons to come. The Nuggets though clearly seem to be the better, for the time being at least.

     It's not a bold statement to say either as they've been consistently proving they can still compete in this league without the likes of superstars. They smashed the Grizzlies (the 8th seed in the West) without either Chauncey Billups, Carmelo, or any of their trade acquistions. They beat the best team in the East, the Boston Celtics, by 14 points. They lost to the Portland Trailblazers by 1 point, but then came back with two strong victories. They beat the strong Atlanta Hawks by 10 and obliterated the Charlotte Bobcats by 30. Carme-who?

     The crazy thing about the Nuggets roster though is their lack of eye-popping names. They just have consistently solid players who with much chemistry are forming together to be a tough group to fight, not to mention they are slowly winning me over this season. The Jazz on the other hand are severely injury plagued, but take away the injuries I believe they have a roster to still compete at a high level in the WC.
Recent acquisition Devin Harris looks to lead
 the Jazz but is he big enough for dos' britches?

     A starting line-up consisting of Devin Harris, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson. Not to mention a bench with names such as youngsters Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Mehmet Okur, and C.J Miles. As I stated in my article discussing the Deron Williams trade, there are many scenarios here with this group they have.

     They could blossom the talent they have under a new head coach, and become a dangerous Western Conference team or they could fizzle into worthlessness. It's up to them at this point. Devin Harris has the potential to be a solid point guard, by no means Deron Williams, but solid. Their rookies have talent as well, but it's how the Jazz develop that. If anything they are trade fodder for the future. They have the names to be better than this Nuggets team, but with injuries and other persistent problems it's up-in-the-air if anything will become of them, and that is why I believe this Nuggets team will be the victor tonight.

     The Nuggets are hitting a late season run without their superstar and veteran leader Chauncey. Their chemistry is stronger than ever and they are not only beating strong teams, but blowing some teams out substainially. The Jazz could be a surprise in tonight's game because as I said they have the talent to be strong, but the way they are being used it horribly. Sorry Jazz players, but if you don't use the talent you have you can expect a lot Birdman antics while you lose. So if you don't to be annoyed by a sub-par, Travis Barker NBA version, then don't lose. I still have you losing though, so bird on Birdman, bird on.

     Winner: Denver Nuggets

     Thank you very much for reading: The Technical Foul! Be sure to subscribe to our new RSS feed at the top of the page, or to follow the blog itself. If you have any comments about your predictions of tonight's game, or you want to rub it in my face when I'm wrong then check out the comment box below! Thank you very much!

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