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Game Thread #71: Bulls vs. Orlando Magic

Big big game, with a win tonight (and expected Philly loss against Detroit tomorrow), the Bulls will only be a half game out of the playoffs.

Reading the papers(electronically, of course) the past few days, the impression that I've gotten is while we may not be too gung-ho about a race to the 8th spot, the players and coaches are. So you'd think that goal coupled with a home crowd will lead to an energetic start, but similar circumstances before in this season have led to completely awful starts.

The Magic have no such playoff delusions, but have won 3 and a row and have played better since the trading deadline, where they effectively swapped Steve Francis and the decaying corpse of Kelvin Cato for 3 solid young players in Trevor Ariza, Carlos Arroyo, and Darko Milicic. All 3 have increased their minutes and their production (at least in terms of PER) since arriving in Orlando. And I've tried to use my NBA League Pass as much as possible to follow the saga of Darko since his trade from Detroit, and one thing that you may have not known about our pal Darko is that he is a shot-blocking machine, averaging nearly 2.5 blocks in 20 min/g since the trade, a full block more than Tyson Chandler gets in 5 fewer minutes.

Couple the juvenated Serbian with everyone's favorite man-child in Dwight Howard, and the Bulls frontcourt could be in trouble tonight. But without Grant Hill, the Magic are an extremely young (and poor defensive) team. And while they may have a promising future, knowing that the end is near could have them ready to pack it in the rest of the season. That's why some early energy and a quick start could be the difference for the Bulls, for a loss tonight would've made all the playoff talk the past few days seem kindof silly.

Blogging with the Enemy: Believing in Magic

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