GAME DAY 67 – THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

GAME DAY 67 – THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

Tonight is Game Day 67 and it sees the Orlando Magic in Charlotte to take on the Hornets. Coach Clifford and Dwayne Bacon face their old team as the Hornets chase a layoff berth.

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The tip time is shown on the NBA app and Orlando Magic website as being a 1:00am here in the UK (8pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).

THE MATCHUP FOR THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

LAST OUTTINGS

The Hornets played last night on the first night of a back-to-back, taking a loss against the Chicago Bulls by 120-99. Charlotte were led by PJ Washington with 24 points. Malik Monk produced good figures from the bench with 20 points and 7 assists. LaMelo Ball led the team on assists with 9. Charlotte shot only 7 of 18 from the free throw line (38.9%)

On Wednesday night the Magic lost heavily to the Boston Celtics in the Amway Centre by 132-96. Orlando struggled all night shooting from deep, making only 24%. RJ Hampton had another double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists as he again showed a growing confidence and comfort. Mo Bamba whilst not being exceptional also recorded another double-double for 19 points, 15 rebounds, an assist, 3 steals and 4 blocks. He is beginning to grow with increased play. Dwayne Bacon and Mo Wagner led the team in scoring with 20 points. Cole Anthony had an off night, partly due to reduced minutes after taking a shoulder to the face by running into a screen Bamba had set for him.

RECORDS

The Hornets have won 17 of 32 games at home this season. Orlando have won 10 of 31 games on the road. Season records see Orlando at 21-45, whilst Charlotte are 32-34. Across the last 10 games that each team has played Charlotte hold a 4-6 record and Orlando are at 3-7. Neither team is on any streak having both lost their last game.

Results see Charlotte 8th and Orlando 13th in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets come into the game as the NBA’s 17th ranked offensive team, scoring on average 109.5 points per game. Orlando are 29th with an average of 104.1 points per game.

Charlotte have a defensive rating at 18th and sees them conceding 111.1 points per game. Orlando are 23rd and concede 112.5 points per game.

OUR OPPONENTS – THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Offensively they can play at a reasonable pace, prompted by an active defensive style seeing them rate top 10 for fast break points. Their play sees them happy to build a possession and use the shot clock. They shoot above 45% from the field and approaching 38% from the 3. Of their points per game over 41% comes from deep, they shoot almost 37 attempts from the 3 per game. This is a team that prefer to rely on the long ball but are capable of attacking the paint, scoring around 46 points per game there. They rate in the bottom third of the league for free throws attempted and make approximately 75% of their attempts, though last night the percentage was below 40% made.

Defensively they have very active hands, though their ratings for blocks and steals has dropped since we met twice in January. However they do still turn the ball over at a very high rate. Since we last met Charlotte has reduced their personal fouls per game massively, to become one of the lowest rates in the NBA.

They are still a developing team having undergone changes prior to the season. As with Orlando injury has greatly affected their season. They have not hit the potential many pundits believed they would but are secure in play-in tournament bracket so will likely have the opportunity to reach the playoffs..

THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS SQUAD

Last night they started PJ Washington (13 PPG), Terry Rozier (20.2 PPG), Jalen McDaniels (6.8 PPG), LaMelo Ball (15.6 PPG) and Bismarck Biyombo (5 PPG).

From the bench came Caleb Martin (5.1 PPG), Brad Wanamaker (5.5 PPG), Malik Monk (12.9 PPG), Cody Zeller (9 PPG), Vernon Carey Jr (2.5 PPG), Grant Riller (3 PPG), Nick Richards (0.8 PPG) and Nate Darling (1.3 PPG).

According to ESPN they have some injury issues and to important players. Devonte’ Graham (14.5 PPG) is expected to be out being day-to-day with a knee injury. Cody Martin (4 PPG) was ruled out of last night’s game with an ankle injury. Miles Bridges (12.4 PPG) is in the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss multiple games. Gordon Hayward (19.6 PPG) is out for the season, wearing a walking boot following a serious foot injury.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS

History is very tight in this matchup. The all time head-to-head record in the 109 regular season games played sees the record at 55-54 in Orlando’s favour.

The teams have met twice this season on Game Day 17 and 18 in Orlando. The record stands at 1-1. On January 24th Charlotte won 107-104, then on January 25th Orlando secured victory 108-117.

Last season Orlando swept the shortened series 2-0, both on the road. On January 20th 2020 Orlando won 106-83, following it up on February 3rd 112-100.

Orlando were on a run of having won the last 4 competitive meetings. Prior to that Charlotte had won 13 straight.

The teams have met twice in the playoffs. The record is 1-1 in series and 5-3 in games to Orlando. Charlotte took the 2002 first round meeting 1-3. Orlando took a 4-0 win in the 2010 Eastern Conference first round playoff meeting.

THE MAGIC INJURY REPORT FOR THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

As I write the injury report on ESPN reads:

Wendell Carter Jr (11.5 PPG) is out with an injury to his eye.

Chuma Okeke (7.8 PPG) is out after turning his ankle against Cleveland. He may not play again this season.

Terrence Ross (15.6 PPG) is out with back spasms. He has no timetable to return and may not play again this season.

James Ennis III (8.4 PPG) is out with a calf injury and may not play again this season.

Otto Porter Jr (9.7 PPG) is out with a foot injury. He has no timetable to return and may not play again this season.

Michael Carter-Williams (8.8 PPG) is out with an ankle injury and may not play again this season.

Markelle Fultz (12.9 PPG) is out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery for a torn ACL.

Jonathan Isaac is out indefinitely recovering from knee surgery for a torn ACL.

Devin Cannady (4.3 PPG) has been waived by the team as he recovers from surgery for an open dislocation of the ankle.

THE MAGIC LINE-UP FOR THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

Orlando used their 32nd starting unit on Wednesday night against the Celtics, the most in the team’s history.

The Magic starting unit used by Coach Clifford was Dwayne Bacon (10.9 PPG), Moritz Wagner (6.4 PPG), Cole Anthony (12.1 PPG), Gary Harris (10.1 PPG) and Mo Bamba (8 PPG).

From the bench came RJ Hampton (6 PPG), Ignas Brazdeikis (3.3 PPG), Sindarius Thornwell (1.1 PPG) and Chasson Randle (6 PPG).

Orlando have signed Admiral Schofield on an NBA injury hardship exemption. He is the 29th player on the squad for this season, another franchise record. Schofield played for the Washington Wizards in the 2019-20 season. In a Wizards loss by 123-89 against the Magic on January 8th 2020 Schofield had an 18 point, 6 rebound and 2 assist game from the bench. For the 2021 season he has been playing in the G League with Greensboro Swarm.

RECORD FOR 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 – 75 – GAME DAY 63 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

MOST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 137 – GAME DAY 49 UTAH JAZZ

LEAST POINTS CONCEDED THIS SEASON – 83 – GAME DAY 7 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

KEYS TO THE GAME FOR THE ORLANDO MAGIC IN CHARLOTTE

For the Orlando Magic in Charlotte the aim is to continue to seek growth and look at the available players with an eye to next season. Charlotte are desperate for the win as they aim to push up to 6th in the East and avoid the play-in tournament. For the Hornets with so few games remaining that is now unlikely to happen.

Orlando are not tanking and no player on the squad is trying to lose. They have spirit and intend to fight regardless of what that does to the team’s lottery odds.

In pursuing a victory Orlando’s defence must refocus, particularly after a poor opening quarter against Boston where live ball turnovers were a huge issue. In the game Orlando had 17 turnovers and conceded 24 points as a result. The Hornets obvious threat is Terry Rozier. He is shooting a field goal percentage of around 45% and from the three ball nearly 40%. Both Rozier and Ball have great assist numbers so Orlando must hold their defensive sets and be prepared to rotate. Those two players also lead Charlotte in total steals, at 74 and 72 respectively for the season.

Orlando will need to force turnovers and score on the break, an area that Charlotte can be exposed in. Early in the season Charlotte were vulnerable to scoring in the paint, however now they rate poorly as a team who concede a high percentage of threes. If Orlando can then continue to get to the free throw line there could be an upset in the form book.

THE LOTTERY RACE

For the Orlando Magic in Charlotte a defeat is not a disaster, particularly if you are embracing the so called “tank”. The bottom teams are packed tightly together.

The table reads:

23rd – Chicago – 27-39

24th – Toronto – 27-40

25th – Cleveland – 21-45

26th – Orlando – 21-45

27th – OKC – 21-46

28th – Minnesota – 20-46

29th – Detroit – 20-47

30th – Houston – 16-50

The odds are explained here on Tankathon.

In the lottery race Orlando are tied with Cleveland for the 5th/6th position for the lottery first round, meaning a 9.7% chance of the number 1 pick. The pick is also guaranteed to be a top 10 pick.

The pick owed by Chicago from the Vucevic trade currently sits at 8th. This is a top 4 protected pick meaning Chicago keep the pick if it is drawn at 1 through 4. Odds see it likely to be at 8 or 9 in the draft.

Finishing with the worst record does not guarantee the best pick. The lottery has numerous examples of teams outside the top odds moving up the draft order. Fancy a go on a lottery simulation to see how it works just click on the link and hit the SIM LOTTERY button.