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Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic: Regular Season Game 1 (!) Open Thread

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The Essentials:

Wizards (0-0) vs. Magic (0-0)
8:00 p.m.
Amway Center
TV: TNT
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable Magic numbers last season

1st in expected winning percentage (.743)
18th in pace factor (92 possessions per game
4th in offensive efficiency (111.4 points/100 possessions)
3rd in defensive efficiency (103.2 points/100 possessions

Reading Material

Orlando Pinstriped Post
Magic Basketball
Orlando Magic Daily
Orlando Magic blog preview
A bunch of John Wall dunks
GameDay Orlando
Box Seats predicts 27 wins
SB Nation D.C. StoryStream
Flip Saunders happy to raise expectations for Wall
Wiz are a work in progress
Kevin Seraphin/Andray Blatche video

Tonight's Starters
Wizards vs. Magic
John Wall (!!!) PG Jameer Nelson
Kirk Hinrich SG Vince Carter
Al Thornton SF Quentin Richardson
Andray Blatche PF Rashard Lewis

JaVale McGee

C

Dwight Howard

Opening night is finally here! Yippee! Woo Woo! Celebrate! It'll be awesome, right!?

It will be, there's no doubt about that. But tonight's opponent, the Orlando Magic, is about the worst team the Wizards could possibly face right now. Not only are they rolling, having destroyed everyone during the preseason, but they're also the worst possible matchup. There's nobody on the Wizards roster that can stop Dwight Howard, and I'm not sure how keen I am with Andray Blatche having to run to the three-point line to chase Rashard Lewis around. John Wall may be awesome, but it's going to be harder for him to get into the lane with Howard patrolling the paint. Throw in the fact that they're opening their new arena in prime time, and this isn't a good matchup.

Win or lose, though, it's basketball, it's John Wall and it's awesome. Three keys to a Wizards victory:

  • Don't let Jameer Nelson split the trap: Nelson is a good shooter, and he has a nice floater, but his weakness at times is that he doesn't finish on big men well. You have to be careful trapping him, though, because if he gets by you, he can set up a lot of people. The big men hedging have a big job in front of him.
  • Don't let Dwight Howard get early post position: Much has been made about Howard's improved post game, but it probably won't matter much tonight ... unless the Wizards do a good job of making sure he doesn't get deep post position early. Then ... well, he'll probably beat us regardless, but at least it'll be more difficult.
  • Run pick and rolls at Lewis: Dwight Howard is the human pick and roll eraser, but Lewis is a bit more suspect. Involving him in pick and rolls might be a better play. This also applies when Lewis sits and either Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass is in.

Score prediction: It doesn't matter. JOHN WALL. BASKETBALL. YAY.