Game Day 55 and the Magic travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls and Nikola Vucevic. The Magic aim to end a 6 game losing run against our former centre.
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being 1am here in the UK (8pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP AS THE MAGIC TRAVEL TO CHICAGO
The Bulls played last on Monday night, a road game losing 90-101 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 21 points and NIkola Vucevic tallied another double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Four Chicago players made double figure scoring, the other two being Daniel Theis and Thaddeus Young.
The Magic took a heavy defeat also on Monday night in the Amway Center against the San Antonio Spurs by 120-97. Orlando made life hard for themselves with another poor first half, tallying only 39 points. 4 Orlando players made double figure scoring being led by RJ Hampton with a career high 16 points, which he supplemented with 8 rebounds coming from the bench. Mo Bamba withdrew from the game injured. Wendell Carter Jr worked hard for 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. Robert Franks made his debut with 4 points, 1 assist and 4 rebounds. Franks is on a 10 day contract from the Lakeland Magic.
The Bulls have won 10 of 26 games at home this season. Orlando have won 7 of 25 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 17-37, whilst Chicago are 22-31. Across the last 10 games that each team has played Chicago have a 3-7 record, whilst Orlando has fallen back to 2-8. Chicago are on a 3 game losing run whilst Orlando have lost their last 6 games.
Results see The Bulls 10th in the Eastern Conference and Orlando are still sat 14th.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE CHICAGO BULLS
The Chicago Bulls are underperforming to what many expected before the season began.
The Bulls come into the game as the NBA’s 17th ranked offensive team, scoring 112.4 points per game. This is an improvement from when we met in early February.
Offensively they are a team who attack at pace where the opportunity presents, including making 12.4 fast break points per game. Scoring wise 54% comes from inside the paint, the 6th most in the NBA. They shoot 32.8 % of their points per game from beyond the arc. They are an accurate shooting team, hitting an impressive 47.9% from the field and 36.7% with the 3 ball. Assists per game are much above that of the Magic at 26.6 per game as they move the ball about, Orlando average only 22.3 and over the last three games it is 19! Chicago draw very few fouls per game, attempting a league low 18.5 free throws per game, making 14.8, an 80.1% efficiency rate.
A defensive rating at 16th sees them conceding an average of 113.5points per game. Again this is a vast improvement in their rating from those of our last meeting.
Defensively they block 4.3 times per game, whilst stealing the ball 6.7 times. They still turn the ball over a lot on average for the season, at 15.6 times per game. Again that figure is way down from the average of 17 in early February. However, they concede very few fast break points per game, only 11.5, suggesting the turnovers are not live ball ones. On average they foul 19.2 times per game. The Bulls rank alongside Orlando for rebounding stats, being minimal differences in offensive, defensive and total rebounding averages.
THE CHICAGO BULLS SQUAD
According to ESPN the Bulls have only one absences for tonight, being Garrett Temple (8.1 PPG) with a hamstring injury.
Last game Coach Billy Donovan started Zach LaVine (27.5 PPG), Thaddeus Young (12.4 PPG), Patrick Williams (9.4 PPG), Tomas Satoransky (7.9 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (24 PPG).
From the bench came Daniel Theis (9.4 PPG), Troy Brown Jr (4.6 PPG), Coby White (14.4 PPG), Lauri Markkanen (15.3 PPG) and Denzel Valentine (7 PPG).
The squad also feature Al-Farouq Aminu (5.3 PPG), Ryan Arcidiacono (3 PPG), Cristiano Felicio (1.2 PPG), Javonte Green (3.8 PPG), Devon Dotson (1.3 PPG) and Adam Mokoka (1.4 PPG).
HEAD-TO-HEAD: THE CHICAGO BULLS
The all time head-to-head record in the 113 regular season games played sees the Magic trailing by 52-61.
Our recent record with the Bull sees the Magic win one and then the Bulls do.
We have met twice this season on a back-to-back on the 5th and 6th of February. On game day 23 Orlando won 119-123, on game day 24 Chicago won 118-92. Both games were in Orlando.
Last season the teams met only once, Orlando winning the game 95-103 in the Amway.
The 2018-19 season saw the series split 2 & 2, both teams taking a road and a home win.
Prior to that season the Bulls had won the previous 5 meetings between us.
In the playoffs the record for games is 6-4 to Chicago, being tied 1-1 for series victories. The Magic famously won 4-2 in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-finals, but in 1996 were swept 4-0 in the Conference Final.
THE MAGIC INJURY REPORT AS THE MAGIC TRAVEL TO CHICAGO
As I write the injury report on ESPN is not great reading.
Mo Bamba (6.7 PPG) is questionable with a hip contusion.
Chuma Okeke (6.9 PPG) is day-to-day and questionable with a hip issue.
Otto Porter Jr (9.7 PPG) is out with a foot injury.
Newly signed to a 10 day contract Donte Hall (0 PPG) is day-to-day.
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.
Karim Mane (1.1 PPG) has been waived from his two-way contract with the team.
Devin Cannady (4.7 PPG) has also been waived from his 10 day contract.
THE MAGIC LINE-UP AS THE MAGIC TRAVEL TO CHICAGO
The Magic starting unit against San Antonio used by Coach Clifford was Michael Carter-Williams (8.6 PPG), Chuma Okeke (6.9 PPG), Wendell Carter Jr (11.4 PPG), James Ennis III (8.3 PPG) and Dwayne Bacon (10.3 PPG).
From the bench came Terrence Ross (15.9PPG), RJ Hampton (4.6 PPG), Cole Anthony (11 PPG), Mo Bamba (6.7 PPG), Robert Franks (4 PPG), Devin Cannady (4.7 PPG), Karim Mane (1.1 PPG) and Chasson Randle (5.1 PPG).
Gary Harris (9.6 PPG) was rested following his extensive injury absence being on the second night of a back-to-back.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 14th
SEASON RECORD – 17-37
HOME RECORD – 10-19
ROAD RECORD – 7-18
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 29TH OF 30 (105.3)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 24TH OF 30 (113.4)
POINTS PER GAME – 29TH OF 30 (104.1)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 18TH OF 30 (112.1)
RECORDS WHEN LEADING AND SCORING
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 8-10
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 13-4
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 10-3
RECORD WHEN SCORING LESS THAN 100 POINTS – 1-22
WHEN SCORING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 5-10
WHEN SCORING 110 TO 119 POINTS OR MORE – 5-4
AND WHEN SCORING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 6-1
RECORDS FOR CONCEDING THIS SEASON
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 100 POINTS OR LESS – 6-3
WHEN CONCEDING 100 TO 109 POINTS – 3-6
AND WHEN CONCEDING 110 TO 119 POINTS – 6-13
RECORD WHEN CONCEDING 120 POINTS OR MORE – 2-14
LEAST AND LARGEST ON THE SEASON
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY – 20 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT – 46 – GAME DAY 49 UTAH JAZZ
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 – 137 – GAME DAY 49 UTAH JAZZ
LEAST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 83 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
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KEYS TO THE GAME AS THE MAGIC TRAVEL TO CHICAGO
As the Magic travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls it will be difficult for Magic fans watching Nikola Vucevic wearing his new uniform. Vooch will be a Magic fan favourite and his interviews since the trade show how much affection he holds for the team, the town and the fans. Magic fans know what Vooch will bring against us as we have been watching it game in game out. Knowing his game and stopping it are two different things. I will be shocked if we are not on the receiving end of a double-double comprising of dominant defensive rebounding, trailing three’s and hook shots.
Zach Lavine is an impressive baller, having recently put up a career high 50 points. He also facilitates a lot of the Bulls offensive play and is forming a lethal partnership with Vucevic. Orlando will need to be aware of the threats on the Bulls team who share the offensive load. Young, White, Theis, Markkanen and Williams are all capable of putting up effective numbers. Defence of the paint will be key.
For Orlando scoring is again a must. Against San Antonio the Magic shot only 25% from the three, against Milwaukee it was only 22.2%. By contrast both teams we faced shot 40% or above with the long ball. This differential is killing our chances in games. Statistics clearly show that if we hit less than 100 points then we almost certainly lose. Across the last 3 games Orlando have only averaged 96.7 points per game.
In both games this season Chicago benefitted from forcing live ball turnovers from the Magic. Orlando since the trade deadline have been guilty of this more often as continuity and chemistry is sought. In the remaining 18 games this is one area Orlando must improve upon.
KEY DATES IN THE NBA
Orlando has seen results around them beneficial for the lottery position. The Magic remain with the 4th worst record in the NBA. This means Orlando have a 12.5% chance of landing the number 1 draft pick when the lottery comes. Orlando are still 5.5 games back of Chicago in 10th.
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.
The date for the Draft Lottery as June 22nd.
The 2021 NBA Draft is set for July 29th.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has indicated the 2021-22 season is hoped to start back at its more normal time of late October.