Game Day 56 sees the Magic at the Raptors, travelling an hour along I4 to Tampa. The Magic aim to end a losing run against Toronto.
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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being 12:30am here in the UK (7:30pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
THE MATCHUP FOR THE MAGIC AT THE RAPTORS
The Raptors played last on Wednesday night, a 112-117 home win over the San Antonio Spurs. OG Anunoby led the Raptors with 22 points and Pascal Siakam tallied a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Four other Toronto players made double figure scoring, being Chris Boucher, Malachi Flynn, Yuta Watanabe and Khem Birch.
The Magic snapped a 6 game losing streak on Wednesday night, on the road against the Chicago Bulls by 115-106. Orlando made 12 shots from beyond the arc as they shot 44.4% with the three ball and a shade under 50% from the field. Six Orlando players made double figure scoring being led by James Ennis III with 22 points, including 5 makes with the long ball on six attempts. Gary Harris made an effective return with 15 points, 6 assists and a block to go along with some strong defensive play. Wendell Carter Jr worked hard for 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block on his return to Chicago. Donte Hall made his debut with 7 points, 2 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. Hall is on a 10 day contract, signing less than 24 hours before his debut.
The Raptors have won 12 of 27 games at home this season. Orlando have won 8 of 26 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 18-37, whilst Toronto are 22-34. Across the last 10 games that each team has played Toronto have a 4-6 record, whilst Orlando has 3-7. Both teams are on a 1 game winning run.
Results see the Raptors 11th in the Eastern Conference and Orlando are still sat at 14th.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE TORONTO RAPTORS
The Raptors come into the game as the NBA’s 14th ranked offensive team, scoring an average of 112 points per game. This is almost identical to when we played them on Game Day 22 on February 2nd.
Offensively they are a team who attack at pace (13th in the NBA), including making 14.1 fast break points per game. Scoring wise only 44% of their points come from inside the paint, the third least in the NBA. They score 39.5 % of their points per game from beyond the arc, bettered only by Utah and Portland. They are not an accurate shooting team, hoisting up a lot of shots in a game but hitting only 45% from the field and 36.9% with the 3 ball. Assists per game are above that of the Magic at 24.2 per game. Toronto draw fouls, attempting 21.6 free throws per game, making 17.8, an 82.4% efficiency rate.
A defensive rating at 11th sees them conceding an average of 111.6 points per game. This is a vast improvement in their rating from those of our last meeting.
Defensively they have very active hands and are extremely physical. They block 5.6 times per game (3rd in the NBA), whilst stealing the ball 8.5 times (5th most). They turn the ball over on average 13.4 times per game. Again that figure is way down from the average of 15 in early February. However, they concede very few fast break points per game, only 11.4, suggesting the turnovers are not live ball ones or they chase back. On average they foul 21.8 times per game, the league’s most. Those fouls are often deliberate and see the opposition offensive rhythm broken.
Toronto rank badly for rebounding stats, being last in total rebounding averages, 23rd for offensive and 27th defensive.
THE TORONTO RAPTORS SQUAD
According to ESPN the Raptors have absences for tonight. Jalen Harris (14.3 PPG) is doubtful with a hip injury. Pascal Siakam (20.8 PPG) and OG Anunoby (14.8 PPG) are out being rested. Kyle Lowry (17.1 PPG) is out. DeAndre’ Bembry (5.3 PPG) has a hamstring issue and is expected to sit the game out. Gary Trent Jr (15.5 PPG) is day-to-day and doubtful for tonight.
Last game Coach Nick Nurse started Pascal Siakam (20.8 PPG), OG Anunoby (14.8 PPG), Chris Boucher (13.5 PPG), Malachi Flynn (5.4 PPG) and Khem Birch (5.6 PPG).
From the bench came Yuta Watanabe (3.4 PPG), Freddie Gillespie (4.8 PPG), Rodney Hood (4.8 PPG), Stanley Johnson (3 PPG), and Paul Watson (3.2 PPG).
Finally Fred Van Vleet (19.8 PPG) and Aron Baynes (5.8 PPG) missed the last game but are no longer on the injury report.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: THE TORONTO RAPTORS
In the 91 regular season games played between the two teams history sees the Magic trailing by 39-52.
Our recent record is very poor against the Toronto Raptors.
Orlando have already lost twice this season. On Game Day 21 on the road in Tampa (Toronto’s temporary home for the season) Orlando lost 102-115 on January 31st. The game featured the final spat between Lowry and Aaron Gordon. On Game Day 22 on February 2nd in the Amway Centre Toronto again won by 123-108.
We played the Raptors 3 times in the opening weeks of last season, losing all 3 games. The two road games were losses by 95-104 and 97-113. In the Amway Orlando fell again 90-83. The teams met for the final time last season in the NBA Bubble on August 5th, the Raptors again winning 109-99. That sealed a season 4-0 sweep for Toronto.
The 2018-19 season saw the regular season series split 2-2, but as we know in the playoffs we lost 1-4.
Therefore, including both regular season and playoff meetings the Raptors have won the last 10 meetings.
In the playoffs the record for games is even at 5 and 5, being tied 1-1 for series victories. Orlando won the 2008 Eastern Conference First Round 4-1. Toronto took the corresponding round in 2019, also by 4-1.
THE ORLANDO INJURY REPORT FOR THE MAGIC AT THE RAPTORS
As I write the injury report on ESPN is not great reading.
Mo Bamba (6.7 PPG) is listed as day-to-day and questionable with a hip contusion.
Otto Porter Jr (9.7 PPG) is out with a foot injury.
Michael Carter-Williams (8.8 PPG) is expected to miss multiple games with an ankle injury.
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 ORLANDO LINE-UP FOR THE MAGIC AT THE RAPTORS
The Magic starting unit against Chicago used by Coach Clifford will require a change in the absence of Michael Carter-Williams (8.8 PPG). The other four being Chuma Okeke (6.9 PPG), Gary Harris (9.8 PPG), Wendell Carter Jr (11.6 PPG) and James Ennis III (8.6 PPG) are likely to remain. Cole Anthony (11 PPG) likely steps from the bench into the starting role.
From the bench against Chicago came Terrence Ross (15.8 PPG), RJ Hampton (4.6 PPG), Cole Anthony (11 PPG), Dwayne Bacon (10.2 PPG) and Donte Hall (7 PPG).
Robert Franks (4 PPG) and Chasson Randle (5.1 PPG) were fit but did not feature.
Devin Cannady (4.7 PPG) has now been resigned onto a two-way contract.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDING – 14th
SEASON RECORD – 18-37
HOME RECORD – 10-19
ROAD RECORD – 8-18
NBA OFFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 28TH OF 30 (105.7)
NBA DEFENSIVE RANK AND RATING – 23RD OF 30 (113.4)
POINTS PER GAME – 29TH OF 30 (104.3)
OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME – 18TH OF 30 (112)
RECORDS WHEN LEADING AND SCORING
RECORD LEADING AFTER THE FIRST QUARTER – 9-10
WHEN LEADING AT HALF TIME – 14-4
AND WHEN LEADING GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER – 11-3
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 – 6-4
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 – 4-6
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 FOR THE MAGIC AT THE RAPTORS
For the Magic at the Raptors it will be another difficult night of conflicting emotions. There is little love for Toronto (particularly Lowry) and we want to put one over on them. But to do so potentially hurts our lottery odds.
Toronto are underperforming on what was expected from them for the season, some fans feel they are embracing the tank.
They do not have the depth of previous recent seasons. But even with Lowry, Anunoby and Siakam out they have VanVleet to return. VanVleet is growing into a quality NBA player. He has court vision and can shoot the ball. VanVleet is having a career year in points, blocks and total rebounds. He is close to that career year in many other categories, shooting 39.3% from the field and 37% with the three ball.
Toronto will launch a three ball barrage at Orlando, though most of their shooters are out. VanVleet takes their highest number of attempts per game, so Orlando must focus on him. Nick Nurse will put pressure on the officials as he argues every call made.
For Orlando scoring is again key if we are to win. Against Chicago as already highlighted the Magic offense, particularly from deep was much improved. Assists and good ball movement were also present.
Statistics show that if we hit less than 110 points then we almost certainly lose, holding a losing record of 6-32. Hit 110 points or more then it is a winning 12-5 record.
Both teams will be featuring line ups that are very different from the desired starting units. Orlando are looking for chemistry and cohesion as the squad goes through the early stages of redevelopment. This is particularly obvious on the defensive end since the trade deadline. Against Chicago there were shoots of growth showing again as Wendell Carter Jr, Gary Harris, Donte Hall all saw good effort. As a team they Magic had 48 deflections, 10 blocks and 8 steals.
If Orlando bring the same focus and energy to the game tonight as they did in Chicago then Toronto are in for a tough game.
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 4.5 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.