It’s Game Day 45 which see Portland arrive in the Amway as the Magic hit reset. This is the first night of a new beginning for Orlando following the huge moves at the trade deadline yesterday. It is also the final night of a home stand against tough opponents from the Western Conference.
To watch the game live or on demand here in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription. Never miss a game again and watch the entire 2020/21 season by subscribing here.
The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 12 midnight here in the UK (8pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
GOODBYE AND HELLO AS ORLANDO RESET
Sad, shocking, overdue, needed, surprising, the right call and insane are just some of the terms I’ve read about Orlando’s moves yesterday at the trade deadline. I guess today it is where we should start by recapping what happened.
Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to Chicago Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr, Otto Porter Jr and picks being 2021 first round (top four protected) and 2023 first round pick (to four protected).
Evan Fournier to Boston Celtics for two second round picks. Jeff Teague is included in the deal but has been told he does not need to report as he is to be waived by the Magic.
Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark to Denver Nuggets for Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and 2025 first round pick (top 5 protected).
It saw Orlando obtain a large player trade exception, a sizeable cap space and a whole lot of future picks for development with what is now a very young core of the squad.
THE MATCHUP AS PORTLAND ARRIVE IN THE AMWAY
The Blazers are on the second night of a back-to-back having played last night in Miami. Portland won by 125-110 over the Heat. CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 35 points. Damian Lillard hit 22 points with 9 assists. Robert Covington, Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony also hit double digit scoring.
Orlando again shocked the NBA on Wednesday night by taking down Phoenix in the Amway by 111-112. Three lead changes in the game’s final 30 seconds peaked with an Evan Fournier layup. It was a difficult move with 6.4 seconds remaining by Fournier that saw him hit the winning shot in what turned out to be his goodbye performance. Nikola Vucevic led the team with 27 points and 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double of the season and last for Orlando.
The Blazers have won 12 of 21 road games this season. Orlando have won 10 of 24 games at home in the Amway. Season records see Orlando at 15-29, whilst Portland are at 26-18. Across the last 10 games that each team has played the Trail Blazers have a 6-4 record, whilst Orlando are 2-8. Both teams won their last game and are on a 1 game win sequence.
Orlando remain 14th in the Eastern Conference, whilst the Portland are 6th in the Western Conference.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Portland have been coping with injuries all season and their record sees them sat at 6th in the Western Conference. They also made a change yesterday, acquiring Norman Powell from Toronto in exchange for Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr.
The Trail Blazers come into the game as the NBA’s 6th ranked offensive team, scoring an average of 114.7 points per game. Defensively at 29th, conceding an average of 115.7 points per game tells you where their struggle lies this season.
Offensively they can play at a very fast pace where the opportunity arises, hitting 11.3 fastbreak points per game. However they often play at a measured pace, moving the ball and using the shot clock to get a good look. They are the NBA’s lowest rated team for assists though at 20.1 per game. Scoring wise roughly 42% of Portland’s points per game come from the paint (29th in the NBA) and 42.6% from beyond the arc (2nd only to Utah). They shoot 44.5% from the field and 38% with the 3 ball. Expect Orlando to be on the receiving end of a three point barrage tonight.
Their defensive rating is poor but not when it comes to blocks, (5 per game) or steals (7 per game). Portland do take care of the ball, turning the ball over at a rate of just over 11.4 times per game (the best record in the League). They also don’t foul a lot and commit on average just over 19.2 fouls per game. 50.3% of opponent points come in the paint and 34.1% from deep.
THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS SQUAD
According to ESPN Portland have three potental absences for tonight. Jusuf Nurkic (9.8 PPG) has been out for several weeks with a right wrist fracture that required surgery. He is possible to return tonight. Zach Collins has been out all season following surgery to a left ankle is still absent. Finally, newly acquired Norman Powell (19.6 PPG) is listed as day-to-day.
Last game Coach Terry Stotts started Damian Lillard (30 PPG), CJ McCollum (24.4 PPG), Robert Covington (8.6 PPG), Enes Kanter (12.2 PPG) and Derrick Jones Jr (8 PPG).
From the bench came Anfernee Simons (8 PPG), Nassir Little (5.3 PPG) and Carmelo Anthony (14.1 PPG). The squad also features CJ Ellerby (2.8 PPG), Keljin Blevins (0.4 PPG) and Harry Giles III (3 PPG).
That is a solid rotation of quality players and they have depth.
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD: PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
The all time head-to-head record in the 62 regular season games played sees the Magic trailing by 25-37.
Our recent record with the Trail Blazers sees them having won the last 8 games. Orlando’s last victory over Portland was by 115-109 on January 13th 2017 in the Moda Center. For a win in the Amway for Orlando you have to go back to December 18th 2015.
Orlando lost on Game Day 25 on February 10th by 97-106 as Dame Lillard led the way.
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
As I write the injury report on ESPN dos not make for great reading.
Terrence Ross (16 PPG) is out with knee soreness.
The players from trades, being RJ Hampton (2.5 PPG), Wendell Carter Jr (11 PPG) and Otto Porter Jr (10 PPG) are all listed as day-to-day but not injury related.
Also newly acquired Gary Harris (9.7 PPG) has been absent from the Denver team with a thigh issue, again he is out 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 for a torn ACL.
THE MAGIC LINE-UP AS PORTLAND ARRIVE IN THE AMWAY
The Magic starting unit against Phoenix has seen 80% of it traded away. With Evan Fournier (19.6 PPG), Aaron Gordon (14.6 PPG), Al-Farouq Aminu (5.4 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (24.5 PPG) all gone only Michael Carter-Williams (9 PPG) remains.
For tonight Orlando have 8 available players being Michael Carter-Williams (9 PPG), James Ennis III (7.5 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (9.9 PPG), Khem Birch (5.5 PPG), Chuma Okeke (4.4 PPG), Karim Mane (1 PPG),Chasson Randle (5.7 PPG) and Mo Bamba (4.6 PPG).
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 14th
SEASON RECORD – 15-29
HOME RECORD – 10-14
ROAD RECORD – 5-15
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 27TH OF 30 (105.9)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 18TH OF 30 (112.7)
POINTS PER GAME – 29TH OF 30 (104.5)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 14TH OF 30 (111.3)
RECORDS WHEN LEADING AND SCORING
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 7-9
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 12-3
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 10-3
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 1-18
WHEN SCORING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 4-7
WHEN SCORING 110 TO 119 POINTS OR MORE – 4-3
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 6-1
RECORDS FOR CONCEDING THIS SEASON
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – 5-2
WHEN CONCEDING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 3-6
AND WHEN CONCEDING 110 TO 119 POINTS – 5-10
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
Check out our podcast Penny For Your Thoughts.
In the latest episode we have one the greatest Orlando Magic players ever, being joined by Orlando Magic Hall of Famer, NICK ANDERSON! We talk about the 1995 Playoff series against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, the famous ‘Steal from Michael Jordan’, being the first draft pick in Magic history and a lots, lots more… you will definitely enjoy this episode.
All episodes of the podcast are available on the following platforms:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/penny-for-your-thoughts/id1539159864
Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8zMjJhNGJiYy9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==
Pocket Casts: https://pca.st/yj2cmpgs
Please subscribe and set your notifications for alerts when new episodes are released.
Keep an eye out each game day across our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for our match day game Magic MOments where we ask you to predict the outcome of 5 questions we pose. All you have to do is comment.
KEYS TO THE GAME AS PORTLAND ARRIVE IN THE AMWAY
As Portland arrive in the Amway for Orlando facing the Trail Blazers with only 8 players is far from an easy task, especially with no recognised starter remaining. Tonight will be a team cobbled together whilst the new focus is set.
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 181 three’s this season, only 1 behind league leader Steph Curry. Dame also has an ability to draw fouls having shot 332 free throws this season, making 313 of them! He’s also dished out 331 assists, 7th most in the NBA. His partner in crime CJ McCollum was absent when we met last. Together they are irresistible to watch.
I wrote previously that if Portland can find some improved defensive presence their record would be a vastly better one.
Orlando remain struggling regularly on offence, well lets be honest that is not going to improve tonight.
Any defensive frailty will be exposed by this Portland offence. For Orlando tonight will be about intensity and discipline, they must have those to have any prospect of staying in the game. As previously said the team can not afford to get into foul trouble. Whilst turnovers remain at a low rate for the NBA it is the type of turnover that has been hurting Orlando. They must limit live ball turnovers, these are seeing harmful points being scored from our own offensive possession. In many recent games this failing has been costly and was again true last night.
A renewed focus is needed ahead of the road trip West as the old guard have gone and the rebuild begins.
KEY DATES IN THE NBA
Prior to this week nine consecutive losses left Orlando adrift in the standings. It is never fun watching the team losing consistently but looks like something we will have to abide with for the rest of the season. Orlando still has the 4th worst record in the NBA, so have a 12.5% chance of landing the number 1 draft pick when the lottery comes. The tough second half of the season is well underway. Being 4.5 games back of Chicago in 10th and the wholesale trade of our most consistent scorers makes it hard to see Orlando competing for the post season.
The dates to look for as the season progresses are:
The regular season ends May 16th.
The Play-In tournament is May 18th and 21st.
From May 22nd to July 22nd the NBA Playoffs are scheduled to run.
There is not a date set for the Draft Lottery. The 2021 NBA Draft will be held on Wednesday November 18th