Orlando Magic (2-0) vs. Chicago Bulls (2-1)
The Magic and the Bulls are down their leading players sponsored by adidas. Well one of them is injured and working to a return. The other one is off in La-La Land.
Yet, in the first week of the season, no team's play may be more surprising than Orlando. The Magic have a scrappy team that runs on missed shots, forces teams to get the ball out of the paint with a crowding, harassing defense and quick passing and cuts. This is a team that, as Glen Davis and J.J. Redick put it, has not individual agendas and plays together and plays all out all the time.
Of course, it is easier to do that at home agianst the struggling Nuggets and the young Suns. The Bulls and their defense and precise offense will be a much different story. Orlando will have many more challenges against Chicago.
Nobody believes the Magic's string of impressive wins are sustainable. Despite the 2-0 start, Orlando is expected to fade and become a team that sneaks to 30 wins perhaps. The team is not as bad as initially believed however. The question which some of those detractors are wondering is whether it is a good thing as Orlando will likely fight for draft positioning at the end of the season.
That may not matter right now. Right now, every team should take a hint from Orlando and play as hard. That is something Chicago does every night, which should make this matchup that much more fun to watch.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Orlando is hit with the injury bug right now. Jameer Nelson will miss his second straight game with a sore groin and left leg and his status for this two-game road trip is uncertain. That throws second-year guard E'Twaun Moore into the starting lineup for the second straight game. Moore scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and dished out six assists against Phoenix on Sunday.
-Whatever you do, do not call Richard Hamilton old. Hamilton told the Chicago Sun-Times that a fan in Cleveland calling him old woke him up in that game and spurred him into action. Hamilton scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting against the Cavaliers. Maybe the legs needed some rest. The following night against New Orleans, Hamilton had only four points on 2-for-10 shooting.
Tonight's Other Games
Toronto Raptors (1-2) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2)
The big news for Oklahoma City remains the James Harden trade. Harden told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that he was hurt the Thunder gave him only one hour to ponder over their final offer before moving on and trading him. Sam Presti said that it was done to maintain trade leverage. Whatever the answer, Oklahoma City is a good team but still one moving on it seems from the shock of losing a teammate. The sooner Oklahoma City moves on, the closer the team gets to its championship vision.
Detroit Pistons (0-3) vs. Denver Nuggets (0-3)
The Pistons and Nuggets are two teams that are absolutely struggling. Nobody may be struggling quite like Rodney Stuckey is. Stuckey has 10 points through three games in 84 minutes. He is shooting 1 for 23. 1 for 23! Something is clearly up with Stuckey, who might be the Pistons best offensive option. The Nuggets defense has really struggled so perhaps Stuckey gets on track this evening.