Game Day 37 sees the final Milwaukee and Orlando match of the season. The Orlando Magic are looking to avoid being swept in the Amway Center tonight.
The tip time is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being midnight here in the UK (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
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Tuesday 28th December – Milwaukee Bucks 127 – 110 Orlando Magic
Magic Top Performers – Franz Wagner recorded a career high of 38 points. It is the highest scoring performance by a Magic player this season. Gary Harris continued his strong scoring run by adding 13 points, now his 13th double-digit score in the last 14 games. RJ Hampton came from the bench and played a solid game in the second half at the point guard position. 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block were his stats on the night. Wendell Carter Jr added yet another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He supplemented this with 3 steals and an assist.
Bucks Top Performers – Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 28 points, Khris Middleton 21 points, Bobby Portis had 19 and Jrue Holiday a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists.
Orlando’s record is now 7 wins and 28 losses. The Magic remain 14th in the Eastern Conference. Of the last 10 games played the Magic have won 2 and looking back further it is 17 losses in 20 games. The home record stands at 2 wins of 14 games played, whilst on the road it is 5 wins in 21 played. In points per game the Magic score 101.2, whilst conceding 110.8. Orlando remain at 28th for offensive rankings and at 26th defensively.
Milwaukee have a record of 23 wins and 13 losses. The Bucks stay 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Of the last 10 games played the Bucks have won 7, including their last 4 played. Their road record stands at 11 wins in 19 played. In points per game the Bucks score 110.9, whilst conceding 107.1. The Bucks are 8th in the NBA for the best offensive and defensive statistics.
Head-To-Head – The Milwaukee Bucks
The head-to-head record in the 120 regular season games played sees the Bucks leading 67-53. Recent history is not with Orlando either. In regular season games the Bucks have won the last 10 straight. If you include the 2020 Playoff series Milwaukee have won 14 of the last 15 games played against Orlando! Go back further (from 2016-17 season) and it is 21 of the last 25 meetings.
The teams have met three times this season, twice in Milwaukee and once in Orlando. The first on Game Day 17 was a 108-117 Milwaukee win. The Bucks had led by 29 points but with 2 minutes to play the Magic had cut the deficit to 6 points. Next on Game Day 18 Milwaukee won 92-123, a game in which Milwaukee had a 41 point advantage by half time. Last time out it was a Milwaukee 127-110 win on Game Day 36.
Last season saw Milwaukee sweep the Magic 3-0. None of the games were close, with 12 points being the closest margin of victory.
The teams met 4 times in the regular season of 2019-20 again with Milwaukee winning them all.
In playoffs the Bucks and Magic have met twice. In 2001 the Bucks won 3-1. 2020 saw Milwaukee again win, taking the series with a gentleman’s sweep 4-1.
Our Opponents – The Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are again led by the exceptional Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Head Coach Mike Budenholzer is not lacking talent in this squad. After a slow start to their title defence Milwaukee have picked up the pace. They have been hampered all season by both injury and absence through COVID to key players.
As I write the Milwaukee Bucks are again listed on ESPN as having only once absence, being Brook Lopez (back) who is out.
Against Orlando on December 28th Milwaukee started with Jrue Holiday (PG), Grayson Allen (SG), Khris Middleton (SF), Giannis Antetokounmpo (PF) and Bobby Portis (C).
From the bench primarily came DeMarcus Cousins, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton, Wesley Matthews and George Hill. Further support can come from Jordan Nwora, Semi Ojeleye, Rodney Hood and Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
The Orlando Magic Injury Report
ESPN shows more hits to the Magic injury status.
Robin Lopez has now also entered NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game.
Gabe York signed yesterday to a 10 day contract via the hardship exemption rules. The 28-year-old York was playing this season for the G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, where he was averaging 18.3 points and 4.4 assists. York went undrafted in 2016, has been part of Summer League squads with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. He also has extensive playing experience in the European game. York has tweeted out will no longer be available to play for the Magic having entered NBA protocol for Covid having apparently tested positive.
Cole Anthony is out again for management of his ankle injury.
Chuma Okeke is in NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game.
Hassani Gravett was pulled during the game on the 28th December having tested positive for Covid. He has entered NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game.
Mychal Mulder remains in NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game.
Mo Bamba remains in NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game. He also sprained his right ankle in LA and missed the Atlanta game.
Terrence Ross remains in NBA protocols for COVID-19 and is out for the game.
Markelle Fultz is still out. There remains no timeline for him making a season debut. There are rumours circulating that he is close to a return.
Jalen Suggs is out with a fractured right thumb. He will be out for “an extended period of time” and is said to be progressing steadily.
E’Twaun Moore remains out with a sprained left knee.
Michael Carter-Williams is out after surgery to remove a bone fragment and repair his left ankle ligament.
Jonathan Isaac continues to be out as he rehabilitates from a left knee ACL injury that saw him miss all of last season. He is said to be making great and steady progress, but is not yet cleared for contact.
The Magic Lineup For The Final Milwaukee And Orlando Match Of The Season
In view of the increased issues with absence Coach Mosely will only 9 players to draw on tonight.
Magic Starting Lineup Last Game – Hassani Gravett (PG), Gary Harris (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Wendell Carter Jr (PF), Robin Lopez (C)
Magic Bench Unit Last Game – RJ Hampton, Admiral Schofield, Aleem Ford, Tim Frazier, Freddie Gillespie
Orlando Magic Players Available Tonight: Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Admiral Schofield, Wendell Carter Jr, Moe Wagner, Ignas Brazdeikis, RJ Hampton, Tim Frazier, Freddie Gillespie
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Final Thoughts Ahead Of The Final Milwaukee And Orlando Match Of The Season
As before it is hard to see a makeshift team of just 10 players being able to defeat the fully fit defending champions. Four of those ten Orlando players have been at the team for less than two weeks.
Again through adversity we saw Orlando play with grit and determination. They have consistently tried to fight, despite the odds. Orlando are again attempting to play in constant changing rotations without practice time.
Missing Cole Anthony’s offence hurts the team and will again tonight. Gary Harris is hitting double digit scores with regularity. Franz Wagner showed great footwork and strength in scoring against Milwaukee. It was a performance that put him into a position of national attention in the Rookie of the Year conversation. The Bucks defence locked onto him but could not contain his exceptional growth.
As always the Bucks will dare Orlando to shoot the three-ball as they build their defence around swarming the paint. We have repeatedly seen Milwaukee will launch a bombardment from deep, they will crash the boards and they will drive to the basket.
The Magic must be relentlessly focused in their defensive efforts and avoid unnecessary fouls. Rebounding has to be better, no easy task against one of the NBA’S best. Turnovers must be reduced as had been the case recently. Orlando can not afford to be giving away cheap points.
Finally, Giannis is one of the biggest tests any team have. He can play pick and role, is able to drive to the paint and slam home anything thrown up to him. Whilst his greatest strength is neither shooting from distance or at the free throw line he is capable of both. He has the support of multiple threats in every position from Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, DeMarcus Cousins, Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton, Wesley Matthews and George Hill.
In the absence of Robin Lopez expect Moe Wagner and Admiral Schofield to be sharing more of the responsibility to contain Giannis.
Hopefully Orlando can keep the game close to give themselves the opportunity to surprise the NBA.
Let’s Go Magic!