Tonight our Orlando Magic are in the Amway again, taking on the LA Clippers. This is the final night of a very challenging 3 game home stand. It is also the first night of a tough back-to-back that sees us in Miami tomorrow.
This one has a U.K. tip time of 11pm & the game will as always be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass.
The Magic are now at a record of 21 & 25 for the season, sitting a 7th in the Eastern Conference. Across our last 10 games we are 5 & 5. Home form is still relatively solid at 13 & 10 on the season. Our last outing ended in a disappointing defeat again to the Boston Celtics by 109-98.
In the NBA offensive rankings we slipped back to 26th with a rating of 105.8 & scoring 103.8 points per game (which is still the 29th worst record in the NBA for ppg). Our defensive ranking again took a bit of a hit from the defeat & remaining the 6th best, dropping back to 106.4, whilst still allowing only 104.4 points per game (the best record for opponents ppg in the NBA).
THE MAGIC INJURY REPORT & STARTERS
Looking at the Magic injuries report it is no change. So as before Jonathan Isaac (12 ppg) is out with a severe left knee strain & bone contusion & will not be re-evaluated until early-mid March. Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 ppg) (torn meniscus) is out indefinitely after surgery & have been granted the disabled player exception for him. DJ Augustin (10.7 ppg) is out with a knee injury which after an MRI scan has resulted in his being out until at least mid February.
Once again our starting lineup will likely be Evan Fournier (19.2 ppg), Nikola Vucevic (19 ppg), Markelle Fultz (11.8 ppg) & Aaron Gordon (13.4 ppg) joined by Khem Birch (4 ppg) or Wes Iwundu (4.9 ppg), depending upon who Coach Clifford matches best to our opponents.
From the bench we have Michael Carter-Williams (5.8 ppg), Terence Ross (13.5 ppg), Mo Bamba (5.2 ppg), BJ Johnson (2.8 ppg) & Amile Jefferson (0.9 ppg).
The Orlando Magic PR have tweeted out that we wear tonight the blue Statement uniform tonight.
This is the final time this season that we face the Clippers, having met 10 days ago in LA. The Clippers are currently sitting 3rd in the Western Conference, with a 32 & 14 record. They come into tonight having beaten the Heat on the road in Miami on Friday night 122-117. Across their last 10 games Boston are 7 & 4. They have won 13 of 23 road games, so do travel well.
Looking at the NBA offensive rankings LAC rank 6th with a rating of 112.7 & scoring 115.7 points per game. Defensively they are 7th at a rating of 106.7 whilst allowing 109.5 points per game.
They have 2 injury concerns listed, both are to important players. Listed as questionable is Patrick Beverley (8.3 ppg) with a groin injury. Paul George (23.5 ppg) is definitely out with a hamstring issue.
That just leaves 4 times All Star, 2 times Defensive Player of the Year, 2 times NBA champion & 2 times Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard (27.3 ppg) to be joined in their likely starting lineup by Landry Shamet (9.7 ppg), Maurice Harkless (5.4 ppg), Ivica Zubac (8.2 ppg) & Jerome Robinson (3.1 ppg). From the bench comes perennial 6th Man of the Year Lou Williams (19.8 ppg), Montrelz Harrell (19.3 ppg), Rodney McGruder (3.6 ppg) Patrick Patterson (5 ppg) & JaMychal Green (6.8 ppg) amongst others.
History again isn’t really with us either for this one. When we met on the January 16th we were heavily beaten 95-122, Kawhi going for 32 points. Last season we were swept in the series 2 & 0. We haven’t beaten the Clippers in 12 games; last beating them in November 2013. The head-to-head record in the 60 regular season games played sees the Clippers leading 29-31.
KEYS TO THE GAME
As with our last outing be under no illusion that this is a tough game for us tonight. When you look at their squad, the NBA rankings, season record, road form & history it has to be said that we are the underdogs to win this game.
We will have to contain the threat Kawhi poses, something few teams are successful at doing. Besides we will need to be aware of the threat from the bench of both Lou Williams & Montrelz Harrell. Both are capable of scoring big & with consistency from the bench.
Our defence is a match for any team & in all honesty across our last two games has not been as organised, energetic or effective as it can be. We all know that if we play well on D it gives us a platform to build a result from. I will remind you of the stat that if we can go into the 4th quarter level or with a lead we should feel encouraged as we are 18 & 1 from that position this season.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC