Tonight sees our Orlando Magic facing a rising Phoenix Suns team, led by Devon Booker and Chris Paul. No easy task to close the trip West.
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 02:00am here in the UK (9pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP FACING A RISING PHOENIX
Phoenix are on the second night of a back-to-back. Last night they tool a home court win over the Philadelphia 76ers by 111-120. Devon Booker carried their offence as he scored 36 points. Chris Paul weighed in with 18 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. DeAndre Ayton had a slow night as he scored 11 points and 6 rebounds. A total of 5 Phoenix players made double figure scoring, being rounded out by Dario Saric with 15 and E’Twaun Moore with 11. This win kept them 4th in the Western Conference.
Orlando’s last game saw the Magic win by 123-112 over the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento had no answer to the scoring of Nikola Vucevic, with 42 points. Orlando were boosted by a huge returning performance from Michael Carter-Williams who was everywhere on the court for a brilliant 21 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. James Ennis III, Terrence Ross and Dwayne Bacon all had double figure scoring nights. The victory was marred by the loss of James Ennis to a groin strain.
The Suns have won 9 of 13 games at home in the Phoenix Suns Arena this season. Orlando have won 5 of 14 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 10-17, whilst Phoenix are 16-9. Across the last 10 games that each team has played the Suns have a 8-2 record, whilst Orlando are 3-7. The Magic were on a 3 game losing streak prior to the Sacramento win, whilst Phoenix are on a 5 game winning run.
Since Markelle Fultz got injured Orlando have played eighteen games and have only three victories. That run of results sees Orlando 12th in the Eastern Conference.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE PHOENIX SUNS
Phoenix come into the game as the NBA’s 11th ranked offensive team, scoring an average of 110.8 points per game. The Suns are ranked defensively at 6th, conceding 107.9 points per game.
Offensively they play at a slow pace, not scoring much more than Orlando do per game at 10.8 points. They shoot above 47% from the field and a shade over 36% from the 3. Over 51% of the Suns points come in the paint and 34.9% from beyond the arc.
Defensively they rate almost identically to Orlando for blocks. They have one of the leagues lowest rates for stealing the ball from opponents. They concede 57.5% of points from inside the paint and 33.2% from beyond the arc. The Suns take care of the ball and turn it over at a low rate, identical to that of Orlando per game. They commit on average of almost 21 fouls per game.
THE SACRAMENTO KINGS SQUAD
Last night Coach Monty Williams started Devon Booker (24.4 PPG), Chris Paul (16.9 PPG), DeAndre Ayton (14 PPG), Mikal Bridges (14 PPG) and Frank Kaminsky (6.8 PPG).
From the bench came Jae Crowder (10 PPG), Cameron Johnson (11.2 PPG), Dario Saric (11.1 PPG), Cameron Payne (6.4 PPG),E’Twaun Moore (5.8 PPG), Jevon Carter (3 PPG), Jalen Smith (1.8 PPG), Abdel Nader (7.7 PPG) and Damian Jones (1.3 PPG).
They also have Langston Galloway (5 PPG) as an option.
According to ESPN the Suns have no injury issues.
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD: PHOENIX SUNS
The all time head-to-head record in the 61 regular season games played sees the Magic losing by 25-36.
Last two seasons have seen the Magic tie the series 1-1, both times with road wins. The last meeting was on January 10th 2020 when Orlando won on the road by 98-94.
The teams have never met in the playoffs.
THE MAGIC INJURY AND ABSENCE REPORT
For those embracing the tank then the injury report is very favourable. As I write this through the time difference the squad of 17 is now standing at 8 fit players and one absent. That is not enough to play an NBA game, where 9 fit players are required.
According to ESPN:
Karim Mane (1.2 PPG) is absent to be with the Lakeland Magic. The NBA G-League season began on February 10th in a “bubble” at Walt Disney World.
Al-Farouq Aminu (0 PPG) is questionable for tonight after having returned in Portland. Having recovered from knee surgery he played less than 5 minutes before being withdrawn with tight hamstrings.
Cole Anthony (11 PPG) is questionable for tonight with a right shoulder strain, suffered against Portland.
Evan Fournier (17.8 PPG) is questionable with back spasms.
James Ennis III (7.3 PPG) is questionable for tonight with a right groin strain. He was forced to leave the game in Sacramento.
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.
Frank Mason III (6.3 PPG) left the Golden State game with a right groin strain and did not return. He is out for tonight.
THE MAGIC LINE-UP FACING A RISING PHOENIX
Coach Clifford will again be heavily consulting his medical staff ahead of the game. For the game to go ahead one of those injuries has to be able to suit up.
The starting unit against Sacramento consisted of Michael Carter-Williams (7.1 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (10.3 PPG), James Ennis III (7.3 PPG), Gary Clark (3.3 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (24 PPG).
From the bench again came Terrence Ross (14.5 PPG), Khem Birch (6.8 PPG), Chuma Okeke (4 PPG) and Mo Bamba (5.2 PPG).
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 12th
SEASON RECORD – 10-17
HOME RECORD – 5-8
ROAD RECORD – 5-9
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 4-2
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 9-2
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 7-1
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 28TH OF 30 (106.2)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 20TH OF 30 (112.7)
POINTS PER GAME – 28TH OF 30 (105.4)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 17TH OF 30 (111.9)
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 1-10
WHEN SCORING MORE THAN 100 POINTS – 9-7
WHEN SCORING 110 POINTS OR MORE – 7-2
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 4-0
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – 3-1
WHEN CONCEDING 110 POINTS OR LESS – 6-3
AND WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR LESS – 10-10
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
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KEYS TO THE GAME – FACING A RISING PHOENIX
Orlando’s depleted squad again means there is little Coach Clifford can do to truly affect the game. The players can give no more effort than they have given in the last two games. A returning foursome of Anthony, Fournier, Ennis and Aminu would have a huge impact on the rotations available.
In the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Phoenix were superb. Their form has continued. The brilliant addition of Chris Paul has supplemented their already present talents. Their depth is one of the reasons why Orlando are facing a rising Phoenix team, who are becoming a legitimate threat in the West.
Orlando face offensive threats throughout the Suns line up. They are a potent team. The Magic have to try to find a way to slow the scoring of Booker. He is having to handle the ball less with the arrival of assist machine Chris Paul. Booker has scored 20 or more points on 18 occasions this seasons. He had 30 or more on 5 games, including the last 3.
Dependant upon the Orlando returning players it would not be a surprise to see Phoenix focus defensively on both Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross.
The Magic had a good game on offence in Sacramento. However since the Fultz injury of the 19 games played on 9 occasions Orlando have failed to make 100 points. A further 5 were less than the 110 mark.