On Magic Game Day 81 it is the end of the road for Orlando in Charlotte as they take on the Hornets, concluding road games for this season. After this one game remains for the Magic, closing the season at home to Miami on Sunday.
The tip time from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being 12 midnight here in the U.K. (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando). To watch the game live or on demand you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
Time to dive into a look at tonight’s matchup and what it could mean to both teams.
Season Record And Last Time Out
The Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic put in a superb performance that was hugely entertaining to watch on Tuesday night at the Amway Center. Playing the Cleveland Cavaliers the Magic ran out 115-120 winners that saw 8 Orlando players score double figures. The fallings of previous games were much reduced as the Magic played high energy basketball and shot the ball impressively.
Mo Bamba put up an impressive 19th double-double of points/rebound for the season (in 69 games played) with 21 points and 12 boards. His rim protection was dominant as he swatted down 6 blocks. Markelle Fultz making his first start of the season, posted 16 points, 2 rebounds and 6 assists. Ignas Brazdeikis smashed his season-high with 20 points. Moe Wagner continued his double figure scoring with 15 points. Chuma Okeke, Robin Lopez, RJ Hampton and Devin Cannady all made double figure scoring.
As already highlighted including tonight the Magic have just 2 games remaining of the 2021-2022 season. Orlando’s record for the season is 21 wins and 59 losses. The Magic remain last in the Eastern Conference, but are no longer tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the NBA. Over the last 10 games played the Magic have won 3. The home record stands at 11 wins of 40 games played. On the road the record is 10 wins in 40 games played. Points per game sees the Magic scoring 104, whilst conceding 112.
The Charlotte Hornets
On Tuesday night Charlotte got a basketball lesson from the Miami Heat. The Heat took a homecourt win by a massive 115-144! Having won the first quarter Charlotte trailed at the half. The Hornets were down 5 points going into the final 12 minutes, but got outscored in the period by 42-18.
Miles Bridges led Charlotte with 29 points. LaMelo Ball had an 18 points and 14 assist double-double. Terry Rozier weighed in with 16 points and PJ Washington 13, whilst Jalen McDaniels led the bench with 11 points.
The Hornets have a 40-39 season record, seeing them secured in 10th in the Eastern Conference for the final play-in spot. Charlotte has won 6 of the last 10 games played. At home the Hornets have a 20 win of 39 played record for the season. The Hornets have far from struggled on offence, scoring 114.8 points per game. Defence has been a different matter, where they concede the 28th most points per game at 115.1.
Head-To-Head: The Charlotte Hornets
History is very tight in this matchup. The all time head-to-head record in the 113 regular season games played sees Charlotte lead by 57-56.
In the previous three meetings the Hornets lead 2-1, the road team having won each game. Charlotte won on Game Day 5 by 120-111 after finally pulling away from the Magic during the final quarter. For Charlotte Miles Bridges was unstoppable, with help from Gordon Hayward, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels. On Game Day 19 Charlotte won 106-99. Orlando held a lead in the third quarter but the Hornets gained control of the game with 15 unanswered points. Terry Rozier led all scorers with 27 points followed by LaMelo Ball with 22 and Kelly Oubre Jr registered 21 points. Most recently on January 14th Orlando won in Charlotte by 116-109. Both Wagner brothers were superb, leading us in scoring. In the final twelve minutes Orlando held the free scoring Hornets to 18 points.
The teams met on three occasions last season, the Hornets winning the series by 2 games to 1. Prior to that Orlando were on a run of having won the last 4 competitive meetings, Charlotte having won the previous 13 straight!
The teams have met twice in the playoffs. The record is 1-1 in series and 5-3 in games to Orlando. Charlotte were victorious in the 2002 first round meeting by a record of 1-3. On route to the Conference Final Orlando took a 4-0 win in the 2010 Eastern Conference first round playoff meeting.
Our Opponents – The Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are coached by former Orlando Magic interim head and assistant coach James Borrego. Charlotte are a strong and talented team with depth in every position.
Last Starting Lineup – LaMelo Ball (PG), Terry Rozier (SG), Miles Bridges (SF), PJ Washington (PF), Mason Plumlee (C)
Last Bench Unit – Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, Kelly Oubre Jr, Isaiah Thomas, Nick Richards, James Bouknight, JT Thor, Montrezl Harrell (DNP), Kai Jones (DNP), Arnoldas Kulboka (DNP), Scottie Lewis (DNP)
Only Gordon Hayward is doubtful for the game with a foot injury that sees him listed as day-to-day.
The Orlando Magic Lineup And Injury Report
Final Thoughts On The End Of The Road For Orlando In Charlotte
Before we go any further; if Orlando win and you are a “tanker” do not have a meltdown as it is not the end of the road. Statistically the number 1 picks since the odds were changed in the lottery have not gone to the team with the worst record. There is no guarantee in a lottery by definition! I also fully accept that finishing with the second worst record means you can drop to the 6th pick and so on. However this draft is considered to be all about the top 3 or 4 prospects.
There remains value in the Magic playing hard, especially for Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs as they play together in the starting unit again. This is about development.
The season end of the road for Orlando in Charlotte is honestly winnable, despite the Hornets depth, scoring and record this season. The Magic match well against Charlotte, hence why all three games have been tight against the division rivals. However expect the Hornets to seek a win as the 9th seed position is in reach.
Whilst defence is not a strength they are adept at forcing turnovers and making steals, turning their weak D into fast offence. Charlotte play at a fast pace, move the ball freely for assists all being led by last season’s Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. They will shoot a lot and use the three-ball liberally. They will also crash the offensive boards, securing many additional possessions.
The Draft Lottery Picture
As with last season Orlando are on course to have one of the three best odds in the lottery to land the number one pick. To date Orlando and Houston share an identical record and so are tied for the worst record. Finishing with the worst record guarantees a top 5 pick.
Full information on how this all works is available here on nba.com.
Odds and current rankings are available via Tankathon. The order from worst upwards presently is Houston, Orlando, Detroit, then Oklahoma. OKC could still pull above Indiana.
Houston play on Friday in Toronto and close their season on Sunday night at home to Atlanta.
Detroit tomorrow face Milwaukee at home, before finishing on the road in Philadelphia.
Oklahoma close their season on the road in LA. First up is a Friday night fixture against the Lakers and on Sunday it is the Clippers.
As I said in the previous game preview as fan I just can not bring myself to cheer the Magic losing. Again with the lottery looming on Tuesday, May 17th I will not be too upset by any loss we suffer.