Mavs-Magic Preview: Dirk Meets Larry Bird

If you are a Magic-watcher, you view tonight as a chance to see a re-tooled Orlando team. If you are a Mavs-watcher, tonight's Dallas-at-Orlando is Dirk-watching … and Bird-watching.

The Mavs Storyline: They are 22-5 overall and 9-1 away from home. That fine record includes six straight wins against teams that are a combined 45 games above .500.

In other words, 22-5 and 9-1 aren't built on marshmallows.

Individually, though, tonight can be about the individual upon whom this franchise is built: Dirk Nowitzki.

Nowitzki is now 10 points shy of Larry Bird's career points total of 21,791. Tonight in Orlando, The UberMan will almost certainly overtake Bird as the No. 25 all-time scorer in NBA history.

"It's been an amazing run," Dirk says. "If you'd have told me that 13 years ago, nobody would have believed it. But those things mean more probably after your career."

You are wrong, Dirk. It means something now. It means something tonight.

And we will chronicle it all. As in happens. In this tribute thread at DB.com Boards. The Mavs Official Dirk and Bird-Watch is Here!

The Magic Storyline: They've re-tooled … re-loaded … or maybe misfired … in adding Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu in a pair of weekend trades.

The trio made its debut after Monday in Atlanta. While Dallas was handling Miami, the Magic were losing 91-81 to the Hawks.

"We're starting from scratch,'' Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy says.

Despite the presence of championship piece Dwight Howard, the Magic are 16-11, have averaged 88.1 points in losing seven of their last eight, and like most everybody else, have first-hand knowledge of the Mavs' road-warrior mentality.

Dallas has won each of its last four games in Orlando.

The Lineups: The game is on TXA21 with Mark Followill and Bob Ortegel bringing you the tip at 6. And it'll all start like this …

Orlando Magic Dallas Mavericks
Jameer Nelson Jason Kidd
Jason Richardson DeShawn Stevenson
Hedo Turkoglu Caron Butler
Brandon Bass Dirk Nowitzki
Dwight Howard Tyson Chandler

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