The Las Vegas Summer League may have more teams, games, and even allows fans in the stands, but the Orlando Pro Summer League--which continues today--is every bit as important. Teams looking for a strictly basketball experience for their summer squads seek out the Orlando Magic's no-nonsense league, which they host in their practice facility. This year, the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz will all attend.
I'm Evan Dunlap, known as Ben Q. Rock at Orlando Pinstriped Post, SB Nation's Magic blog, and I'll be there to cover all 20 games this week for SB Nation.com. Here's what's on tap tonight. The games are available on NBA TV, but you can watch the action streaming on NBA.com for a fee, if that's more convenient. Check back in this StoryStream for updates after every game.
Game 1: Bobcats (2-0) at Celtics (0-2), 1 PM - Relative to expectation, the Bobcats have been the best team here. Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown have carried the offense, with Alexis Ajinca making solid contributions on the glass. Not bad for anyone, especially a team that didn't have any draft picks this year. They face a Celtics team that's underachieving, to no one's surprise, given the dearth of talent on its roster. Luke Harangody can only do so much. Pushing the tempo more would allow Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney to get out in transition, where they excel. Maybe that's something the Celtics will try as they seek their first win this week.
Game 2: Thunder (1-1) at 76ers (2-0), 3 PM - In some ways, what Oklahoma City has here is simply unfair. Each player in the Thunder's starting lineup will make their roster this season, as well as two of their reserves. Far and away, they have the most stacked team, which means they usually play pretty well. But Philadelphia has a better record, and it's not due to second overall draft choice Evan Turner. No, it's second-year point guard Jrue Holiday who's leading the way, and fellow sophomore Jodie Meeks has provided better offense than Turner has so far. Oklahoma City's Eric Maynor has proven this week that he isn't shy in attacking the basket. Good luck getting there against Holiday. This game should be a fun one.
Game 3: Nets (1-1) at Magic (0-2), 5 PM - Orlando hasn't really done anything right this week, and the Nets have arguably the league's top player in Terrence Williams, so this one might get ugly. Magic summer-league coach Patrick Ewing wants center Daniel Orton, just 1-of-14 from the floor in the first two games, to assert himself offensively by demanding the ball. And as poorly as he's played, the Magic have nothing to lose but games, really, but giving him the ball. They need interior offense, because their wing players haven't shown they can shoot from the outside. Third overall draft pick Derrick Favors of New Jersey should roll in this one, provided that his teammates manage to get him the ball.
Game 4: Pacers (1-1) at Jazz (1-1), 7 PM - I can't help but feel like the Pacers' athletes, led by point guard Lance Stephenson and wing Paul George, will decide this game. If Indiana pushes the pace and avoids setting up Josh McRoberts for so many darn three-pointers, Utah has no answer. But if the Jazz manage to control the clock and force Indiana to play a halfcourt game, victory is theirs. Gordon Hayward, Kosta Koufos, and James Augustine have each played exceptionally well in the half-court. They run plays, know where they're supposed to be, and get results.