When Dwight Howard committed himself to the Orlando Magic until the end of the season at least, it seemed the soap opera had ended. Now it looks like the only fairytale ending in the city will take place within the confines of Disneyland as the current axis of power suffered a public breakdown.
Widely assumed to hold a veto over his head coach’s future in exchange for what passes for loyalty in the NBA, Howard’s power has now seemingly been brought into the open by Stan Van Gundy who insists his star has already demanded his removal.
Cue denial, and counter-denial. Followed by a terrible performance by the All Star in a woeful loss to the New York Knicks. Now Orlando must try to pick up the pieces – and end a five-game losing streak - when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
The Sixers have problems of their own after being hammered by Toronto amid signs that Doug Collins aggressive coaching style is wearing his players down. And despite the Magic’s apparent disarray, and the additional loss of Hedo Turkoglu to injury, Orlando still look good value at 1.91 with +5 to lift some of the gloom.
Facing a team twice in quick succession can be a mixed blessing: either you adjust or lose the faith. Memphis lost 95-85 on Wednesday in Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki inspiring a fourth quarter rally from the reigning champions. They have a re-match on Saturday, this time with the Mavericks on the road.
On Friday, Memphis underlined their threat with a deserved victory in Miami, while Dallas lost in overtime to Portland. With plenty of depth, both teams have coped well in back to back games this season but the Grizzlies – favoured by 4 on the handicap - have a threatening look right now which should see them extract swift revenge.
Bet of the Day: Take over 179.5 points at 1.91 in Philadelphia - Orlando