It’s game day 2 and 3 in Washington for the Orlando Magic as we face the new look Wizards twice on an exciting back-to-back. Both games tip off at 12am midnight for us in the UK (7pm Eastern Time).
To watch the games live or on demand here in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
Orlando faced the Miami Heat in the Amway on opening night. It was a toe-to-toe battle from the opening tip to the final buzzer. A 113-117 victory over the Eastern Conference champs gave a nudge to many who follow the NBA that Orlando have a voice in the East.
Orlando played as a team, with every player pulling their weight and more.
The extraordinary amount of turnovers for the Magic conceded needs to be reduced but it has to be remembered Miami are a tough D team. Orlando were locked in defensively all night and backed it up with some periods of strong scoring.
THE MATCHUP FOR GAME DAY 2 AND 3
In our preview of the Eastern Conference we looked at Washington and placed them in the same grouping as the Magic. We felt that both teams will be seeking to push into the 6th position to avoid the play-in tournament and that could be a savage battle. Remember the new play-in tournament is for those teams ranked 7 through 10 at the season end.
The Wizards definitely got better in the offseason. They have two clear stars in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, their offensive ability is backed up by Davis Bertans’ shooting and the squad has improved depth.
As an athletic, veteran player and former MVP Westbrook is not going to change his game. That will not be an issue to Washington Coach Scott Brooks, who coached Westbrook in Oklahoma. He knows Westbrook’s and can develop the partnership with Beal.
GAME DAY 2 AND 3 OPPONENTS – THE WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Now to our opponents for game day 2 and 3; the Washington Wizards.
Last season Washington had a record of 25-47 and finished 10th in the Eastern Conference. They were 15th in NBA for offensive rating and 30th in defence! This is now a different team but the question around Washington still relates to their ability on defence.
In the offseason they drafted Deni Avdija (9th) and Cassius Winston (53rd). But the big news was the Russell Westbrook for John Wall trade. They also brought in Robin Lopez, Raul Neto, Anthony Gill and Cassius Winston (two-way).
Besides John Wall the Wizards lost Jerian Grant, Ian Mahinmi, Shabazz Napier, Gary Payton II, Jarrod Uthoff, Johnathan Williams, Vit Krejci and Admiral Schofield.
They opened their season on the road in Philadelphia, losing 107-113.
For that game Washington used a starting line-up of Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Isaac Bongo, Thomas Bryant and Deni Avdija.
From the bench came Raul Neto, Ish Smith, Robin Lopez, Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner and Troy Brown Jr.
According to ESPN their only injury who is listed as out is Rui Hachimura. However both Davis Bertans and Russell Westbrook are listed as day-to-day. The suggestion is that both could be rested in one of the back-to-back fixtures with the Magic.
Last season the Magic swept the Wizards 4-0. The first match on 17th November 2019 was a 121-125 victory in the Amway. The next two games on the road saw wins by 127-120 (December 3rd 2019) and 122-101 (January 1st). The final game played was in the Amway with a Magic win by a massive 89-123.
The all time regular season record sees 124 games played, with the Magic ahead 71-53. These two teams have never met in the playoffs.
THE MAGIC LINE UP
Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu will both again be absent being long term injuries and out indefinitely.
James Ennis and Mo Bamba are listed on ESPN as being day-to-day, though it is unlikely they feature tonight. Mo Bamba has been active in full contact drills and nears a return to action.
Coach Clifford opened the season with the starting line-up of Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Dwayne Bacon and Nikola Vucevic.
From the bench will come Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Terence Ross, Chum Okeke, Khem Birch and possibly Gary Clark. Two way players Jordan Bone and Karim Mane will also be available.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
Let’s get these rolling early this season. As the season goes on it gives us an idea of where our successes and issues are; and focus needs to be.
- EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 2nd
- SEASON RECORD – 1-0
- HOME RECORD – 1-0
- ROAD RECORD – N/A
- RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – N/A
- WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 1-0
- AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – N/A
- NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 18TH OF 30 (107.2)
- NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 7TH OF 30 (101.5)
- OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 8TH OF 30 (107)
- RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – N/A
- WHEN SCORING 110 POINTS OR MORE – 1-0
- AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – N/A
- RECORD WHEN CONCEDING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – N/A
- WHEN CONCEDING LESS THAN 110 POINTS – 1-0
- AND WHEN CONCEDING LESS THAN 120 POINTS – 1-0
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Over recent episodes of Penny For Your Thoughts we have looked to the new season, talked about the Magic squad and a lot besides!
In the latest episode we have taken a look at game day 2 and 3 in Washington for Orlando.
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KEYS TO GAME DAY 2 AND 3
Whilst Orlando have strong continuity Washington have seen a lot of changes. Chemistry and understanding may be an issue at this stage of the season for them. The Westbrook and Beal partnership is still finding itself so this could be a good time to face them. They did look good together in the season opener, combining for 52 points. Westbrook secured a triple double, the 147th of his career!
We all know Washington can score. To take the W Orlando need to be sharp on both ends of the floor.
A solid Magic defensive game is the platform we build victory from. We are built to be a defence first team and have players to get stops. Forcing turnovers from Washington, limiting points from our own turnovers and preventing second chance scores by rebounding effectively are a must.
On offence it seems that Coach Clifford is wanting Orlando to be playing at pace. There has been good usage of the drive-and-kick. Nikola Vucevic is a foundation stone in that philosophy. He has been instructed to shoot more 3’s, eight per game. If Vooch gets into a rhythm and gets early success the opposition defence will need to quickly adapt.
With strong play on both nights, commitment, focus and some good fortune it is not unreasonable to see Orlando leaving Washington with a 3-0 unbeaten record. Washington will be a tough team to play in these games and won’t roll over easily.
WE ALWAYS BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!