This Monday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews important upcoming 76ers games — features tonight’s opponent the Orlando Magic, who if we are totally honest, are a hot mess right now.
Our thoughts on tonight’s game vs. the Magic are all over the place. Ten days ago, we would have viewed this game as a litmus test or a statement game for the 76ers. Ten days ago a win over the Magic would have gone a long way towards shutting up many of the critics who have refused to give the 7-6 any credit for their successful start to the 2011-12 season. But that was 10 days ago.
Now, roughly four hours before tip off, we’re not sure this game tonight against the Magic means anything. Orlando has lost three straight and 4 of their last 5. Two of the L’s happened at the hands of the old and slow Boston Celtics. Both came in simply unexplainable, but vastly different fashion. Another of their recent losses was to an Eric Gordon-less Hornets team. They’re banged up. Dwight Howard called his teammates out in the media. And those who cover the team on a daily basis are suggesting that in an effort to shake his team out of this slump, Stan Van Gundy should make significant line up changes. Basically it seems like total chaos in Orlando right now.
Thus, we guess that what this game means depends on which Orlando Magic team shows up tonight down at the Wells Fargo Center. If the team that won five straight earlier this month and owns Ws over the Lakers and Blazers makes an appearance, we can put some stock in the result of tonight’s game – either way. If the Orlando squad of the last week or so shows up again tonight, then the Sixers will simply own another W over a weaker squad and the home team’s critics will remain.
For a little more insight into the Magic team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Eddy Rivera from magicbasketball.net to answer four questions on this Orlando squad from us here at Philadunkia.
Philadunkia : Obviously the Magic are having some significant issues right now. Is it one, two or three fixable things that have produced the 3 game losing streak (and 4 of the last 5) and the comments by Howard or are we witnessing the implosion of a franchise?
Eddy Rivera @ magicbasketball.net : You’re witnessing the implosion of a franchise. Outside of Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, J.J. Redick, and Hedo Turkoglu, the rest of the players on the roster aren’t good. And with Howard openly stating his desire to play elsewhere, erstwhile calling out his teammates for not playing hard after the Hornets game, things are spiraling out of control.
Philadunkia : Some are calling for significant lineup changes for the Magic. Do you think that would help?
Eddy Rivera @ magicbasketball.net : No. The Orlando Magic need to start over. Unfortunately, ownership is obsessed with winning. Normally that’s a good thing but given that owner Rich DeVos is 85 years old, he wants to see the franchise win a title sooner rather than later. The problem is that trading Howard for veterans isn’t going to get the Magic any closer to that goal.
Philadunkia : Before the concussion, local product Jameer Nelson was struggling this season. Any insights into his poor play in 2011-12?
Eddy Rivera @ magicbasketball.net : Nelson is shot. I liken him to a a professional boxer that’s over the hill and doesn’t have it anymore. More mentally than physically to be specific. All the drama surrounding Howard has affected Nelson more than any other player for Orlando. He looks lost on the court and coupled with eroding skills, well, you have a bad player.
Philadunkia : Which Magic team will the Sixers get tonight? The one that beat Portland, LAL and the NYK or the one that from the outside appears to be a total mess of late?
Eddy Rivera @ magicbasketball.net : The one that’s a total mess. There’s nothing to suggest, given how the Magic have been playing lately, that the Philadelphia 76ers winning the game by 10 points or more won’t happen. Orlando is a sinking ship. It’s only a matter of time before the ship fully capsizes. If the Magic win tonight’s game, it’ll be a minor miracle.