Regular Season Game 81
Magic (38-42) at Wizards (40-40)
Quite frankly, tonight is a really big game. New Jersey moved only a half-game behind the Wizards for the sixth spot with a win against the Knicks. A loss tonight by the Wizards, and they would drop down to seventh, because the Nets own the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. From there, it still remains unclear, because Chicago and Cleveland are duking it out for the 2 spot. There's even a chance that, with two Magic wins and Wizard losses to the Magic and Pacers, that the Wizards could fall all the way to 8th and have to play the Pistons.
Clearly, this game really matters. Toronto has been playing incredible basketball since the turn of the new year, but due to their playoff inexperience, they would be the best possible first-round matchup.
Things would be a lot easier if Antonio Daniels is able to play. He missed the Bulls game on Sunday, and the result was a 33 point beatdown. Right now, he's a game-time decision.
"It felt all right," Daniels said. "I tried to run [Sunday] before the game and could not at all, so any progress is positive. Running up and down the court, shooting and changing direction is a good sign."
Coach Eddie Jordan said he would leave it up to Daniels and head athletic trainer Eric Waters before determining Daniels's status. "After watching Antonio practice today and work out today, I think he looked good," Jordan said. "We really need him. If he is ready to play, we will play him. We will watch his minutes, and we hope he can get some minutes under his belt before the weekend."
Despite their late-season slide, the Magic remain one of the better defensive teams in the league. If AD can't go, the Wizards offense won't either.
Your lines for tonight:
Magic at Wizards: Wizards by 3.5.
Over/Under on Blatche's minutes: 15.
This is an open game thread, so speculate on whether Darko Milicic will be this year's version of Tim Thomas/Jerome James.