MIAMI — The Miami Heat don't intend to give Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard easy baskets when the two teams play tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena.
So what else is new?
Howard has averaged 20.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in three games against the Heat this year.
At first glance, those statistics seem to indicate that Howard has steamrolled Miami this season. But, in reality, the Heat have performed better against him that most teams. Howard is averaging 23.5 points per game on 59.9 percent shooting against the rest of the league this season.
"They do a pretty good job of swarming him with a lot of people," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after his team's shootaround this afternoon.
"They're not all out double-teaming him, but as he commits to his move, they come with virtually everybody. So he doesn't get a lot of room. They've got some very athletic guys. [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade both come to block from behind, and they do; they make it difficult on him.
"And they've got size. They've got [Erick] Dampier and they've got [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas and they've got Joel Anthony, who's a great shot-blocker. So they've got size on him and a lot of people coming to help. I think they do a pretty good job of swarming him in the paint."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that Howard has been playing at an "MVP level."
"You have to get as many bodies as you can in front of him and try to swarm him on his pick-and-rolls when he rolls to the rim and then when he gets into the post," Spoelstra said.
"But they make it tough. They really do. Virtually everybody on their roster is a 40 percent 3-point shooter and then they have more guys now that can put the ball on the floor. They're a dangerous offensive team for a reason: because of his ability to collapse your defense and their shooters can get on a roll. There's no easy way to do it."
In other news:
• Van Gundy said the players on the active roster — including Jameer Nelson (ankle) and Gilbert Arenas (calf) — are healthy enough to play tonight.
• Van Gundy said he doesn't know whether forwards Quentin Richardson and Earl Clark will play tonight. "It all depends on game situations and how things are going," Van Gundy said. Both Richardson and Clark could be useful as defenders.
• Spoelstra said he'll "probably try" to play point guard Mike Bibby tonight. The Heat signed Bibby on Wednesday.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times