On Game Day 40 we see the Magic in New York to take on the Knicks. Orlando are looking to break an eight game losing streak.
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 11:30pm here in the UK (7:30pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP FOR THE MAGIC IN NEW YORK
The Knicks last played on Tuesday night, losing on the road to the Philadelphia 76ers 96-99. Julius Randle carried the Knicks as he scored 19 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Five other Knicks players made double figure scoring, being RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks and Taj Gibson.
Orlando’s last game saw the Magic lose by 102-97 to the Miami Heat in the Amway on Sunday night. An undermanned Magic team had effort but could find no way to counter Jimmy Butler. Nikola Vucevic led Orlando with 38 points and 10 rebounds. Terrence Ross was the only other Magic player to make double figures with a 31 point haul. The rest of the team (8 players) combined for just 28 points!
The Knicks have won 11 of 18 games in the Madison Square Garden this season. Orlando have won 5 of 18 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 13-26, whilst New York are 20-21. Across the last 10 games that each team has played the Knicks have a 5-5 record, whilst Orlando are 2-8. The Magic are deep into a losing streak now standing at 8 games, whilst New York have lost their last 2.
That run of results sees Orlando 14th in the Eastern Conference, whilst the Knicks are 8th.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE NEW YORK KNICKS
New York come into the game as the NBA’s 23rd ranked offensive team, scoring an average of 105.1 points per game. The Knicks are ranked defensively at 5th, conceding only 105.1 points per game which is the best average in the NBA.
Offensively they play at a slow pace, scoring less fast-break points per game than Orlando do, only getting an average of 8.1 points. This is the leagues slowest paced team, their offence being methodical. They shoot 45.4% from the field and a shade over 37% from the 3. Over 54% of the Knicks points come in the paint and 30.1% from beyond the arc. The Knicks are team with players who are happy to drive to the basket or create their own shot. This sees them having an average of only 21 assists per game.
Defensively they get 4.7 blocks per game and steal the ball at the same rate as Orlando, being 6.8 per game. They concede 48.5% of opponents points from inside the paint, 16.6% from the free throw line and 34.9% from beyond the arc. The Knicks take care of the ball and turn it over at a low rate of 13.6 times per game, almost identical to that of Orlando. They commit on average of almost 21 fouls per game, hence the high level of points conceded at the charity stripe.
New York are one of the leagues best rebounding teams.
THE NEW YORK KNICKS SQUAD
Tonight for The Magic in New York the Knicks will have some valuable options potentially absent. According to ESPN the Knicks have Mitchell Robinson (8.4 PPG) out an injured right hand. Austin Rivers (7.3 PPG) is out for personal reasons. Derrick Rose (13.5 PPG) is out through COVID protocols. Immanuel Quickley (12.8 PPG) is questionable with a sore left ankle. Finally Elfrid Payton (12.6 PPG) is doubtful with a hamstring issue.
Last game Coach Tom Thibodeau started Julius Randle (23 PPG), RJ Barrett (17.2 PPG), Reggie Bullock (9.1 PPG), Immanuel Quickley (12.8 PPG) and Nerlens Noel (4.7 PPG).
From the bench came Alec Burks (11.8 PPG), Taj Gibson (4.3 PPG), Frank Ntilikina (4 PPG) and Obi Toppin (4.5 PPG). Also available is Kevin Knox (5 PPG).
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD: NEW YORK KNICKS
For the Magic in New York the results in recent games have not been favourable, Orlando losing the last 3 fixtures.
The teams have already met twice this season in a scrappy game. The Magic lost on a poor night of shooting in the Madison Square Garden, New York on January 18th. The Knicks won 84-91, in what was at that point both a sixth straight loss for the Magic and a season low in scoring. On February 17th in the Amway Orlando won 89-107. That game saw Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucevic, Dwayne Bacon and Michael Carter-Williams carry the scoring. It was a win built on an excellent second half defensive display.
Orlando played the Knicks twice last season splitting the series 1-1. In the Amway on October 30th 2019, Orlando won by 85-93. Then on February 6th the Knicks took a surprise win 103-105 in the Gardens.
Across the 118 regular season games played the Magic lead 61-57. Since season 2015-16, in the 18 games played Orlando have 11 wins.
The teams have never met in the playoffs.
THE MAGIC INJURY AND ABSENCE REPORT
For those embracing the tank the injury report is still favourable!
As I write the injury report has just been updated on ESPN:
Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG) is listed as questionable with a groin issue.
Aaron Gordon (13.6 PPG) is listed as day-to-day. He is questionable with an ankle issue but fully went through practice yesterday.
James Ennis III (7.3 PPG) is out with a calf injury.
Terrence Ross (16 PPG) is listed as day-to-day with knee soreness. He is questionable for tonight.
Cole Anthony (11 PPG) remains out with a non-displaced rib fracture. He is said not to be close to returning yet having only recently began light shooting practice.
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.
Karim Mane (1.2 PPG) has been absent with the Lakeland Magic and could return to the team soon. The NBA G-League season finished on last Thursday with the Lakeland Magic winning the title.
THE LINE-UP FOR THE MAGIC IN NEW YORK
The starting unit against Miami was a repeat of that against San Antonio, which was the 17th used by Orlando this season. Chuma Okeke (4.6 PPG) continued to start, joining Michael Carter-Williams (9.2 PPG), Al-Farouq Aminu (4.4 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (10.5 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (25 PPG).
From the bench came Terrence Ross (16 PPG), Chasson Randle (5.5 PPG), Khem Birch (5.5 PPG), Mo Bamba (4.7 PPG) and Gary Clark (3.5 PPG).
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 14th
SEASON RECORD – 13-26
HOME RECORD – 8-13
ROAD RECORD – 5-13
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 27TH OF 30 (105.4)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 18TH OF 30 (112.6)
POINTS PER GAME – 29TH OF 30 (104.6)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 15TH OF 30 (111.7)
RECORDS WHEN LEADING AND SCORING
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 6-7
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 11-3
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 9-3
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 1-15
WHEN SCORING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 4-7
WHEN SCORING 110 TO 119 POINTS OR MORE – 3-3
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 5-1
RECORDS FOR CONCEDING THIS SEASON
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – 5-1
WHEN CONCEDING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 3-6
AND WHEN CONCEDING 110 TO 119 POINTS – 3-8
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 2-10
LEAST AND LARGEST ON THE SEASON
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 WASHINGTON WIZARDS
LEAST POINTS SCORED THIS SEASON – 77 – GAME DAY 38 SAN ANTONIO SPURS
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
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KEYS TO THE GAME FOR THE MAGIC IN NEW YORK
For the Magic in the New York tonight Coach Clifford will know Orlando’s injuries are limiting anything he can do. It remains that Orlando have four starters, the leading scorer from the bench, a solid role player and back-up point guard all absent or doubtful. Once again this will be a team playing with what it has available.
The Knicks held Orlando to their second fewest points of the season on Game Day 14 in New York in January. That was around the time that New York began to find their feet and have been improving ever since in the standings.
Orlando face a slow paced offensive threat from the Knicks. Julius Randle leads the league in minutes played. He is in the top 20 of most NBA scoring stats for the season, excluding anything to do with 3 point shooting. The Magic have to try to find a way to slow him and this requires defending the paint well. Khem Birch, Mo Bamba and Nikola Vucevic will need to command the boards.
New York will focus defensively on Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross (should he play) as opponents of late have. Vucevic tends to score very well against the Knicks. He is bearing the offensive load but cannot do it without others contributing effectively.
Statistics show that if we hit less than 100 points then we almost certainly lose. As previously the team can not afford to get into foul trouble and must limit live ball turnovers. In many recent games, including the three since All-Star this failing has been costly.
Orlando have an opportunity to score with the amount of fouls the Knicks commit. This could allow Orlando to find much needed points against a team who do not allow a lot of scores.
KEY DATES IN THE NBA.
Eight consecutive losses sees Orlando becoming adrift in the standings. Finding that silver lining in this run is that Orlando have the 4th worst record in the NBA, so have a 12.5% chance of landing the number 1 draft pick when the lottery comes. With a universally accepted tough schedule to the second half of the season now well underway Orlando must find form quickly if they aim to compete for the post season.
March 25th is the NBA’s Trade Deadline.
The regular season ends on May 16th.
The Play-In tournament is through May 18th and 21st.
From May 22nd to July 22nd the NBA Playoffs are scheduled to run.
At this point in time there is no date is set for the Draft Lottery. However the 2021 NBA Draft will now be held on Wednesday November 18th.