Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat | Magic Basketball

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Mar 03

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat

Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight’s practically invisible. His numbers have grown to ridiculous sizes lately, but you hear little chatter about his MVP candidacy. If it’s not LeBron James leading the conversation, it’s Derrick Rose. Or vice-versa. As a voter, I say [Dwight] Howard has joined them in the stretch run. He’s on the red carpet. He deserves the award if he can continue lifting the Magic with a stellar closing kick. Maybe Dwight can win over supporters the next two nights in head-to-head matches against King James and Rose in nationally televised contests. As if the Heat-Magic rivalry needs more spice, make no mistake: Dwight feels he’ll always have to overcome the LeBron lovefests to win the hardware. I go to great lengths to avoid bias, but the hometown guy has muscled into the lead pack. Wednesday, Howard was named the NBA’s player of the month (for February). He averaged 26.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per game while posting a league-leading field goal percentage of .667. Overall, he ranks ninth in scoring, second in rebounding, third in blocked shots. He’s never been better.”
  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Dwight Howard better get used to more days like Tuesday. The Record newspaper, which is based in Bergen County, N.J., reported that New Jersey Nets Principal Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and General Manager Billy King recently spoke with point guard Deron Williams and told Williams that Dwight Howard tops the list of free agents the Nets plan to pursue. Understandably, a group of writers from New York area news outlets asked Howard before the Magic’s game against the New York Knicks if the Nets are any more ‘attractive’ now with Williams. ‘Orlando’s the most attractive place for me right now,’ Howard answered, a smile on his face. ‘They have a sexy new arena, a beautiful franchise, nice banners around here and been in the top four in the Eastern Conference for the past four years. Yes, Orlando’s the most attractive place right now.’ ”
  • Shandel Richardson of the Sun-Sentinel: “Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have gotten used to it by now. It took them little time to realize the Miami Heat would be talked about more for their setbacks than progress. So it’s no surprise they are being picked apart by critics for their struggles against winning teams. With the Heat set to face a string a playoff contenders, beginning Thursday when they host the Orlando Magic, they would rather focus on their quality wins instead of losses. As James put it, ‘They just talk about our losses, they don’t talk about our wins.’ […] The Heat, who are 12-15 against teams with winning records, will play the next 10 games against opponents that are in postseason contention. Two of those games are against the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. While coach Erik Spoelstra views this an opportunity, he refuses to say the stretch will define the season. Spoelstra said this simply is a portion of the schedule that begins with the Magic.”
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: “In January, when Chris Bosh was dealing with ankle issues, there was a supposed epiphany. LeBron would go into the post. He would establish a post-up game that would continue to thrive even after Bosh’s return. While the early efforts were uneven, there at least were efforts. Because for all the things Bosh can be, one is not a true, back-to-the-basket presence. Then Bosh returned, and, well, after all the rhetoric, LeBron returned to his face-up, start-from-the-top approach. Soon all the talk about post-up LeBron was forgotten. Now comes the latest vow, one about a willingness to play off the ball with the arrival of Mike Bibby, the truest thing the Heat have had at point guard since Jason Williams handled the responsibilities during the championship run.”
  • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: “The Heat released Carlos Arroyo on Tuesday to make room for free agent point guard Mike Bibby, who is expected to sign with the team Wednesday afternoon. Arroyo, a fan favorite from Puerto Rico and FIU, was not with the Heat after Tuesday’s practice and coach Erik Spoelstra began his news conference by announcing Arroyo’s departure. LeBron James said he hated to lose “a brother” and Dwyane Wade said Arroyo ‘did nothing wrong’ to be let go. Arroyo started 49 games this season before being benched in favor of Mario Chalmers, who has played inconsistently. Now it appears likely Chalmers will lose his starting job to Bibby, who was traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Washington Wizards before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.”
  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: “The Miami Heat is admitting something here. Conceding something. It requires that ego and pride be set aside by both the builder, Pat Riley, and the foreman, Erik Spoelstra. It is a bit humbling for this franchise, but also smart, and necessary. The Big 3 is not enough. That is what this means. It may have been increasingly apparent, but this is Miami saying it to the rest of the NBA for the first time. ‘We need help’ is what you mean when you are this eager – eager being a nice word for desperate – to sign a veteran, free agent point guard like Mike Bibby at a point on the NBA calendar when you hoped your team’s championship muscle and mettle would have been displayed for all, impervious to doubts and in no need of embellishment. Bibby’s arrival is expected to become official Wednesday.”
  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: “In that case, the Heat will have ample opportunity to turn that discussion in its favor over the next few weeks. The game against the Knicks began a run of 11 consecutive games against winning teams for Miami, and given that the margin of the Heat’s losses has been so minuscule of late, it’ll give the team several chances to fix what’s ailing it against the better teams. Of the Heat’s last six losses, all of them coming against winning teams, Miami has lost by an average of four points, with none of them coming by more than five. In all those losses, the Heat had chances to either hold a late lead or come back from a deficit. Each time, it the outcome ended in disappointment. And that’s what Wednesday’s practice was primarily about as the Heat prepared to play Orlando on Thursday.”
  • Tom Haberstroh of The Heat Index: “The Heat are expected to sign free agent Mike Bibby after he was bought out by the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. As per league rules, the Heat will pay the 32-year-old point guard the prorated veteran minimum for the rest of the season. Bibby will replace Carlos Arroyo on the Heat roster, whom the Heat waived on Tuesday. Bibby has carved out a successful career in the NBA. He’s reached the playoffs eight times in 12 seasons while averaging 15.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. With a career 16.4 PER, he is probably one of the most accomplished point guards to never make the All-Star game, which admittedly sounds like a backhand compliment. But those above-average days are long gone. His quickness has gone by the wayside the last few seasons, something that tends to happen when players approach their mid-thirties, and his productivity has suffered as a result.”