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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 20th (All times eastern)

Miami Heat (58-23) at Orlando Magic (36-45), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Shaquille O'Neal-less Miami Heat will have it in cruise control this evening, when they have their final playoff tune-up against the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena.

O'Neal will be on the sidelines this evening due to a thigh injury, resting for the postseason. Shaq has aided the Heat to the best record (58-23) in the Eastern Conference, averaging 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds.

Miami continued its impressive campaign on Tuesday night, registering a 99-80 thumping of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats at home. Rasual Butler scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed six rebounds in the contest.

Prior to the game, the Heat placed O'Neal on the injured list. The injury was suffered in Sunday's game against Indiana. O'Neal will be able to come off the IL for the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade had 14 points in limited action for Miami, while Alonzo Mourning added 11 points and Udonis Haslem had 10 points and 10 boards.

Miami shot 44 percent from the field, including 8-of-25 (.320) from three- point range. The Heat drained 17-of-25 (.680) from the free throw line and outrebounded the Bobcats, 52-39.

Since a 5-15 start last season, Miami has gone 95-48 -- a .664 winning percentage.

Orlando will be trying for back-to-back wins for the first time since March 28-30 tonight. The Magic came up with a surprising 92-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers at TD Waterhouse Centre on Monday. Steve Francis scored 24 points, pulled down six rebounds and dished out six assists to lead the Magic to the win.

DeShawn Stevenson finished with 18 points and Dwight Howard added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Magic, who snapped a seven-game losing streak. Tony Battie finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in the win.

The Magic went 34-of-71 (48 percent) from the field and connected on 5-of-11 from three-point territory in the win. Orlando hit 19-of-27 (.704) from the charity stripe as well in the contest.

Orlando is 24-16 in its friendly confines this season. The Magic have lost eight of 11 and 10 of their last 15 home tilts.

Miami has swept three meetings between these teams this season, including a 112-103 win at TD Waterhouse Centre on February 27. The Heat has won six of its last nine trips to Orlando.

04/20 10:09:13 ET


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