Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers await an Orlando Magic team seeking rhythm and consistency on Game Day 25
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 03:00am here in the UK (10pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP AS THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS AWAIT
Portland had their last game postponed in Charlotte so like the Magic have not played since Saturday night. In that game Portland lost on the road 99-110 to the New York Knicks. Damian Lillard scored 29 points and was one of five players to make double figure scoring.
In Orlando the Magic tasted another defeat by 118-92 to the Bulls. On the second night of a back-to-back with Chicago Zach LaVine had an impressive night, scoring 39 points. Orlando struggled for three quarters in the absence of so many players, now including Evan Fournier. The team were led by Nikola Vucevic again, taking 17 points and 8 rebounds. However the highlight performance was Mo Bamba. He came on at the start of the 4th quarter and stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks in 12 minutes of play.
Portland have won 5 of 10 games on the road at home in the Moda Center this season. Orlando have won 4 of 11 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 9-15, whilst Portland are 12-10. Across the last 10 games that each team has played the Trailblazers have a 5-5 record, whilst Orlando are 3-7.
Since Markelle Fultz got injured Orlando have been in freefall. Sixteen games have been played with only 3 victories. That run of results now sees Orlando 13th in the Eastern Conference.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
Portland have been coping with injuries all season and their record sees them sat at 6th in the Western Conference.
The Trailblazers come into the game as the NBA’s 6th ranked offensive team, scoring an average of 114.9 points per game. Defensively at 28th, conceding an average of 116.2 points per game tells you where their struggle lies this season.
Offensively they can play at a very fast pace, but equally are adept at using the shot clock to get a good look. Scoring wise roughly 43% of Portland’s points per game come from the paint and 42% beyond the arc. They shoot a shade overt 44% from the field and 38% with the 3 ball.
Defensively they rate badly but not when it comes to blocks, (4.9 per game) or steals (7.9 per game). Portland do take care of the ball, turning the ball over at a rate of just over 11 times per game (2nd best record in the League). They also don’t foul a lot and commit on average just over 19 fouls per game. It would appear that their defensive struggles come from an inability to defend the shooting of other teams, with 42% of opponent points coming from deep.
THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS SQUAD
According to ESPN Portland have 4 absences for tonight, including to star players. CJ McCollum (26.7 PPG) is out with a hairline fracture to his left foot. Jusuf Nurkic (9.8 PPG) is out for several weeks with a right wrist fracture that required surgery. Zach Collins has been out all season following surgery to a left ankle is still absent. Finally, Nassir Little (5 PPG) is out with a knee injury
Last game Coach Terry Stotts started Damian Lillard (29.1 PPG), Robert Covington (7.6 PPG), Gary Trent Jr (14 PPG), Enes Kanter (11.4 PPG) and Rodney Hood (5.1 PPG).
From the bench came Anfernee Simons (8.1 PPG), Derrick Jones Jr (7.2 PPG), Carmelo Anthony (12 PPG) and Harry Giles III (3.1 PPG).
That is a solid rotation of quality players. Even with their injury issues they have good depth.
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
The all time head-to-head record in the 61 regular season games played sees the Magic trailing by 25-36.
Our recent record with the Trailblazers sees them having won the last 7 games. Orlando’s last victory over Portland was by 115-109 on January 13th 2017 in the Moda Center.
Last season saw Portland win by 103-118 on December 20th 2019 and then on March 2nd 2020 by 130-107 in the Amway.
The teams have never met in the playoffs.
THE MAGIC INJURY AND ABSENCE REPORT
For those embracing the tank then the injury report is still favourable. The squad of 17 is now standing at 10 fit players and one absent. According to ESPN:
Karim Mane (1.2 PPG) is absent to be with the Lakeland Magic. The NBA G-League season begins on February 10th in a “bubble” at Walt Disney World.
Michael Carter-Williams (5.1 PPG) is out with a foot injury. There is now no timetable for his return, having suffered a setback.
Al-Farouq Aminu is out again after recovering from knee surgery. He has been involved in practices and is listed as possible to return on the this road trip.
Markelle Fultz (12.9 PPG) has a torn left knee ACL, a season finishing injury. He is now in the lengthy process of rehab following successful surgery.
Jonathan Isaac is out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery.
Aaron Gordon (13.8 PPG) will miss 4 to 6 weeks with a severe left ankle sprain, suffered in the defeat to Toronto on Sunday night.
Evan Fournier (17.8 PPG) is out again with back spasms.
THE MAGIC LINE-UP AS THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS AWAIT
As the Portland Trailblazers await Coach Clifford will probably keep the starting unit from Saturday.
That unit consisted of Cole Anthony (11.3 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (9.8 PPG), James Ennis III (6 PPG), Gary Clark (3.4 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (23.1 PPG).
From the bench again came Terrence Ross (13.7 PPG), Khem Birch (6.8 PPG), Chuma Okeke (3.9 PPG), Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG) and Frank Mason III (7 PPG).
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 13th
SEASON RECORD – 9-15
HOME RECORD – 5-8
ROAD RECORD – 4-7
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 4-2
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 8-1
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 6-1
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 27TH OF 30 (105.8)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 23RD OF 30 (113)
POINTS PER GAME – 28TH OF 30 (105)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 18TH OF 30 (112.2)
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 1-9
WHEN SCORING MORE THAN 100 POINTS – 8-6
WHEN SCORING 110 POINTS OR MORE – 6-2
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 3-0
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – 3-1
WHEN CONCEDING 110 POINTS OR LESS – 6-2
AND WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR LESS – 9-8
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 1-7
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY – 20 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT – 42 – GAME DAY 9 HOUSTON ROCKETS
HIGHEST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 130 – GAME DAY 2 VS WASHINGTON WIZARDS
LEAST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 84 – GAME DAY 14 NEW YORK KNICKS
MOST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 132 – GAME DAY 9 HOUSTON ROCKETS
LEAST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 83 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Check out our podcast Penny For Your Thoughts.
In the latest episode we had Jonathan Osborne from The Sixth Man Show join us to recap the games against the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. We also looked ahead to this week’s West Coast road trip and we discuss Nikola Vucevic’s All-Star season. Make sure you follow The Sixth Man Show on Instagram and Twitter @SixthManShow. You should also subscribe to Jonathan’s podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast.
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KEYS TO THE GAME AS THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS AWAIT
As the Portland Trailblazers await this game is far from an easy task, especially with the players Orlando have absent. Of the strongest starting unit for the Magic only Nikola Vucevic is playing.
This Portland squad has threats from many positions, they have a great depth. Dame Lillard is a star, a brilliant talent and a threat. Few teams contain his scoring ability either in the paint or from the three Lillard has made 86 three’s this season, only behind Steph Curry and Buddy Hield. Dame also has an ability to draw fouls having shot 157 free throws this season, making 147 of them! He’s also dished out 154 assists, joint 9th in the NBA.
If Portland can find some improved defensive presence their record would be a vastly better one.
Orlando remain struggling on offence. Since the Fultz injury of the 16 games played 8 times Orlando have failed to make 100 points. A further 4 were less than the 110 mark.
Our defensive frailty will be exposed by this Portland offence. Orlando are conceding points from turnovers. The team will need to reduce their foul count as well.
A renewed focus is needed but road trips can often be the place that teams find a bond.
LET’S GO MAGIC!