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Jim Mancari,

Since the last time these teams met, the Orlando Magic are a completely different team, and really it’s on account of one player: Jameer Nelson.

Nelson missed all three games that the two teams have played this season – all Nets victories.

For the season, Nelson is averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 assists per game. He was sorely missed in all three Magic losses to the Nets.

“Jameer Nelson is a first-rate player and a first-rate point guard,” said Nets’ head coach P.J. Carlesimo. “They’re a different team.”

Not only is Nelson back, but J.J. Redick has been starting lately and is coming off a career high 31 points while shooting 8-of-11 from three-point range.

The Magic have been red hot from three-point land, led by Nelson and Redick.

“They’re taking a lot more threes,” Carlesimo said. “I think they’re up to recently like 23 a game, and they’re making them.”

Carlesimo said that the Nets must be weary about playing the Magic’s game, which has relied on shooting threes lately. He said the Nets fell into that trap against the Rockets in Saturday night’s loss.

Brooklyn drilled a season-high 16 three-pointers against Houston, but that’s not the Nets style of game.

“We made them which was nice, but all it did was make the score look better at the end,” Carlesimo said. “We did not want to go up and down the Houston.”

The Nets outrebounded the Magic significantly in all three games, and Carlesimo is looking for a similar effort tonight on the boards.

Brooklyn struggled in the two recent blowout losses against Marc Gasol and Omer Asik. Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis can be forceful on the glass, so the Nets must step up their interior defense.

Don’t let the 14-28 record or the five-game losing streak fool you. If the Magic get hot from downtown, the Nets might be in trouble tonight.

Jim Mancari is a Contributor to Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.

Tags: jameer nelson, Columns, nets, pregame, pj carlesimo, orlando magic
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