Tonight sees our Orlando Magic playing basketball for the first time in 10 days due to the All Star Weekend. We are back in the Amway again, taking on the Dallas Mavericks. The game has a U.K. tip time of 12:00am midnight. It will as always be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass.
This fixture will be the 2nd & final matchup of the season against Dallas. Before we preview the game tonight I’m going to take a moment to look at our playoff picture.
The Playoff Picture
We sit in the 8th seed position firmly in the chase for qualification for the post season for the second season running. Our appearance is not guaranteed but we remain in a relatively strong position.
We are 4 wins ahead of the 9th placed Washington Wizards, who have played 2 games less than ourselves. As we look to close in on the Brooklyn Nets for the 7th seeding we saw the Nets lose last night 104-112 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately for them they have also had the news that Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely now after having to have shoulder surgery. At this point we trail by 1 win & they have played a game less than us.
We also hold the tiebreaker over the Nets & do so over the Wizards having swept them 4 & 0. Perhaps in season defining games we have to face the Nets three further times by the end of March.
The Magic now have a 24 & 31 losing record for the season. We took the W last time out against the Detroit Pistons by 112-116. Across our last 10 games we have a 3 & 7 record, with 2 consecutive wins. Our home form has been better than our road performances, sitting now at 15 & 13. That can & must still be improved. In the NBA offensive rankings we are 25th with a rating of 106.1 but our average scoring is still only 103.9 points per game (which remains the 29th worst record in the NBA for ppg). Our defensive ranking remains the 7th best at 107.6, whilst still allowing only 105.4 points per game (which is still the best record for opponents ppg in the NBA).
The Magic Injury Report & Starters
There is good news on our injury report: DJ Augustin (10.7 ppg) is back & available after missing the last 14 games. Both Jonathan Isaac (12 ppg) (severe left knee strain & bone contusion) & Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 ppg) (torn meniscus) are out for the rest of the season.
Therefore our starting lineup will likely be Evan Fournier (18.7 ppg), Nikola Vucevic (19 ppg), Markelle Fultz (11.9 ppg) & Aaron Gordon (14.2 ppg) being joined by another. Up to the break this was switching between Wes Iwundu (5.1 ppg) or Khem Birch (4 ppg). I’m hoping we see our most recent signing James Ennis (5.8 ppg) given the nod; liking what he’s brought so far.
From the bench we have DJ Augustin (10.7 ppg), Michael Carter-Williams (6.4 ppg), Terence Ross (13.4 ppg), Mo Bamba (5.5 ppg) & Gary Clark (3.6 ppg). There is no news if BJ Johnson (1.6 ppg) & Vic Law (0 ppg) will be with us or the Lakeland Magic but Melvin Frazier Jr (1.3 ppg) has been assigned to Lakeland for their game tonight so will not feature.
We knew some time ago that tonight is a City Night in the Amway & the Orlando Magic PR have confirmed by tweeting out that we wear the grey & orange City uniform tonight.
As we take a look at our opponents they come into the game as the 7th placed team in the West, with a 33 & 22 record having. On the road they have been very impressive having won 18 of their 26 games this season, whilst having a 5 & 5 record across their last 10 total games.
Ranking 1st offensively in the NBA with a rating of 117.6, whilst scoring an average of 116.4 points per game (3rd best in the league) they are a scoring machine. Defensively their rating of 111.6, whilst allowing opponents an average of 110.5 points per game puts them in the 19th place for defensive ranking. The Mavs come into tonight having beaten the Sacramento Kings 111-130 in their last outing.
Dallas have only one injury listed on ESPN, being Dwight Powell who is out having ruptured his achilles. The Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has a wealth of talent at his disposal, being lead by Luke Doncic (28.9 ppg) & Kristaps Porzingis (18.4 ppg) who were joined in their last starting lineup by Tim Hardaway Jr (14.8 ppg), Dorian Finney-Smith (9.4 ppg) & Jalen Brunson (8.4 ppg). Also in the squad are Courtney Lee (4.1 ppg), Boban Marjanovic (5.8 ppg), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (4 ppg), Willie Cauley-Stein (7.5 ppg), Max Kleber (8.9 ppg), JJ Barea (9 ppg), Justin Jackson (5.8 ppg), Delon Wright (7.3 ppg) & Seth Curry (11.5 ppg).
We played the Mavs in Dallas on game day 8 on November 6th, seeing us losing by a point 106-107. Across the 62 regular season games played Dallas lead 35-27. Interestingly this fixture has for the past 4 seasons gone with the home team, the sequence continued into this when we lost in Dallas by a point in November…so that must mean it is our turn to win.
Magic Basketball Is Back
We can finally get back to watching our team & a win can help us get rid of the nasty taste left in our mouths by the dunk contest result. I’m hoping we see AG come back from the All Star event in Chicago with a chip on his shoulder. Last season JI took the All Star Rising Stars game snub as motivation & as a result played at a high level, I want to see the same from Gordon.
Hopefully following the rest from playing we see a good Magic win on the back of a strong performance. We all know our form against the +500 teams this season has been diabolical but here is a chance to improve that. The Mavs are a real offensive threat & this will not be an easy game. Make no mistake they will take some stopping & we have to get a hold of the scoring potential of Doncic & Porzingis. If we can go into the 4th quarter level or with a lead we should feel hopeful as we are 20 & 2 from that position this season.
Tonight We Honour Darrell Armstrong
Finally, tonight sees Darrell Armstrong being inaugurated into the Orlando Magic Hall Of Fame. He is beloved by Magic fans being the captain & “heart” in the Heart & Hustle team of 1999-2000 season, playing for the Magic from 1995 to 2003. He also played for Dallas from 2004 to 2006. It is a genuinely deserved accolade.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!