Jonathan Isaac returns tonight against the Denver Nuggets as Orlando will be hoping to finish its third and final scrimmage game with a win.
Denver split their first two warm up games by beating Washington 89-82 and lost to New Orleans on Saturday 104-119.
The Magic will be looking to pick up from where they left off in the second half against the LA Lakers and put together a solid 48 minute effort.
The biggest and perhaps most surprising news is that forward Jonathan Isaac will make his highly anticipated return to the court against the Nuggets tonight.
Isaac was having a breakout year on the defensive end, leading the league in combined steals (1.6 per game) and blocks (2.4 per game) before injuring his left knee on New Years Day against the Wizards.
Stats do not do Jonathan any justice, his impact on defence completely transforms the Magic into one of the better defensive teams and will give Orlando a huge boost.
Isaac who has been with the team since entering the NBA bubble, but it was anyones guess if or when he’d return.
He will more than likely be on a minutes restriction for several games as he works himself back into game shape.
It still remains unclear if Markelle Fultz will return on Monday also, he missed the first two scrimmage games as a late arrival to the bubble as he dealt with a personal matter.
If Fultz is ready to return along with Isaac, that will give the team and fans a lot to look forward to in the coming days as the Magic prepare themselves for its opening seeding game on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets.
One notable absentee tonight will be Wes Iwundu, who has been placed on the NBA’s concussion protocol after a nasty fall during the second quarter against the Lakers.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Steve Clifford has said a number of times that he expects to play as many as 11 or 12 men in his rotations, to help deal with players conditioning and reduce the risk of injuries.
With the return of Isaac and hopefully Fultz, expect to see Clifford play the first half with lineups that we will likely see against the Nets on Friday, then resting the likes of Vucevic, Gordon and Fournier in the second half.
Avoiding injuries and making sure the players are fresh for the seeding games will be vital.
The Denver Nuggets are expecting to have a number of players available tonight who’ve missed their opening two scrimmage games.
The Nuggets only had 8 players available against the Pelicans on Saturday forcing them to play ‘big’ for large parts of the game.
Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap haven’t featured yet and it’s unclear if any of them will return this evening.
The Denver Nuggets are 1.5 games back of the Clippers in second and 1.5 games in front of the fourth placed Jazz.
Whilst they’re keen to secure third in the West, Denver remain cautious about rushing the likes of Murray back who they want healthy for the Playoffs.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Incase you missed our first episode on Thursday, Geraint, Paul and I talked about a number of topics including tonights game.
You can watch that episode here:
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We will be dropping another episode this week previewing the start of the seeding games so keep an eye out for that.
ENJOY THE GAME
Tip off is at midnight here in the UK and available to watch on NBA League Pass.