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NBA Today: June 27

  • Rod Thorn plans to retire from the Nets on July 15 after the important weeks of free agency are over. Thorn orchestrated the Nets’ back-t0-back Finals runs by trading for Jason Kidd, and he is best known for drafting Michael Jordan.
  • Joining Avery Johnson on the Nets bench this season is new lead assistant Sam Mitchell. The Nets now have two of the last five NBA coaches of the year on their staff.
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Game of the Day: April 11

Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers — 1 PM eastern, telecast on ABC

This game will be more interesting in the absence of LeBron James. It’ll also be one the Magic have to win to prove they can play with the Cavs come playoff time.

The league’s top two teams (by a wide margin) square off in a rematch of last year’s conference finals, and it should be a great contest.

The Magic face the Cavaliers for the first time since they acquired Antawn Jamison from the Wizards and since Shaquille O’Neal injured his hand. Missing, too, from the Cleveland rotation will be James, whom Mike Brown is electing to sit so he can rest for the upcoming postseason.

Vince Carter should have a good day against Anthony Parker and Delonte West, so look for big points from him. Jamison and Rashard Lewis will be a great matchup, as both feature the perimeter game as their primary means of scoring.

Most important for Orlando will be Dwight Howard’s play. He’ll only be dealing with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao up front, whose inability to guard D13 in last year’s summer collision led to Danny Ferry’s acquisition of the Diesel in the offseason.

The Cavaliers have won two of the teams’ three meetings this campaign, but both of those wins featured 30-point scoring outbursts from LeBron. To be honest, they have very little chance without the King or the Big Cactus. Give the W to Orlando.

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