The Milwaukee Bucks take on the Orlando Magic tonight in game 3 of the 2020 NBA Playoffs first round. In a best of 7 games series the score is tied 1-1.
It’s game day Magic fans! Technically a home fixture so expect to see Magic graphics across the court and our fans on the video wall.
The game has a fantastic UK tip time of 6pm. Get yourself settled to watch like you were in the Amway, wear your colours and cheer along whilst enjoying beer, pizza, nachos and popcorn. The match will be broadcast live and on demand via the NBA League Pass. Unfortunately Sky Sports has again not selected the game for broadcast here in the UK.
LOOKING BACK: GAMES 1 AND 2
The entire basketball world knows what happened here as the Magic stunned the Milwaukee Bucks with a brilliant 122-110 victory. The win came from energy, discipline and determination on the defensive end. Though Giannis Antetokounmpo scored well the Magic defence played him very effectively, being held scoreless in the final 11 minutes of the game. The rest of their squad were equally met with aggression and focus. This saw 16 Bucks turnovers, from which Orlando scored 25 points.
Orlando shot 49% from the field, including 39% from the 3 and 94% from the free throw line. Our favourite two season stats were met again, lead at the end of the 1st quarter and going into the 4th then Orlando get the win!
Each time the Bucks threw a punch the Magic rallied and came again. Nikola Vucevic scored a playoff career high 35 points and had 14 rebounds.
The wounded animal that was the Milwaukee Bucks came out and bossed the game from start to finish, winning 96-111. They played their defensive game choking the Magic in the paint, daring Orlando to shoot from deep. On offence the Bucks hit 3’s at will, scored freely in the paint and controlled the boards on both ends.
The Magic offence looked rushed from the off and never properly recovered as the poor shooting form got into their heads. They mounted runs including getting the deficit down to only 8 points in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately multiple empty possessions never saw us pull closer.
Ultimately a 13 point first quarter and shooting only 12% from the field had sealed our fate. Across the game Orlando shot 34% from the field, including 21% from the 3 and 87% from the free throw line.
The Magic were led by another superb performance from Nikola Vucevic. On the night scoring 32 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists this was a back-to-back 30 plus scoring game.
MAGIC INJURY REPORT
The Orlando Magic have 3 long term absences: Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) (torn ACL) and Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 PPG) (torn meniscusand Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG) (comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation).
Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) (hamstring) is listed is pending further evaluation. In interview Coach Clifford has said that it will depend how AG feels this morning having trained yesterday. If feeling ok he is expected to play in some minutes.
Michael Carter-Williams (7.2 PPG) is listed as out.
ORLANDO MAGIC STARTERS
The Magic’s depth chart excluding the long term injuries looks like this:
Point Guard: Markelle Fultz, DJ Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams
Shooting Guard: Evan Fournier, Terence Ross, Melvin Frazier Jr
Small Forward: James Ennis III, Wes Iwundu, Vic Law, BJ Johnson
Power Forward: Aaron Gordon, Gary Clark
Centre: Nikola Vucevic, Khem Birch
There remains flexibility with players like Iwundu and Clark able to play in either the SF or PF position.
With the injury update available at this time Coach Clifford is facing a decision. A starting lineup of Markelle Fultz (12.1 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG), James Ennis III (6.6 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.6 PPG) but to be joined by a returning Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) or Gary Clark (3.7 PPG) retains the place again.
From the bench would come a combination of DJ Augustin (10.5 PPG), Terence Ross (14.7 PPG) Khem Birch (4.4 PPG) and Wes Iwundu (5.8 PPG).
Further reserves being BJ Johnson (3 PPG), Vic Law (1.9 PPG) & Melvin Frazier Jr (2.1 PPG) are also available to choose from.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS
The Milwaukee Bucks came into the series as the top seed in the East with a 56-17 record, the best combined season record in the NBA. In the bubble the Bucks went 3-5.
Looking at the Bucks on offence and they are an offensive juggernaut both in the paint and from the 3. Defensively they pack the paint and dare teams to shoot the 3. Stat wise Milwaukee are a top team in every category.
THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS SQUAD
The Buck’s depth chart looks like this:
Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVicenzo, George Hill
Shooting Guard: Wesley Matthews, Pat Connaughton, Kyle Korver
Small Forward: Khris Middleton, Sterling Brown, Thannis Antetokounmpo
Power Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams, DJ Wilson
Centre: Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez
Coach Mike Budenholzer and his assistant team that includes Chad Forcier (assistant coach at Orlando 2016-18) run their team well. Budenholzer is the reigning Coach of the Year and is in the conversation for the award again.
In Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks have the current NBA MVP. He is a dominant force for them scoring 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds & 5.6 assists per game. Supported and surrounded by good players in a likely 10 or 11 man rotation that features Khris Middleton (20.9 PPG), Eric Bledsoe (14.9 PPG), Brook Lopez (12 PPG) and Wesley Matthews (7.4 PPG) as the starting lineup of choice. From the bench comes George Hill (9.4 PPG), Pat Connaughton (5.4 PPG), Kyle Korver (6.7 PPG), Robin Lopez (5.4 PPG), Ersan Ilysova (6.6 PPG) and Donte DiVincenzo (9.2 PPG).
HEAD-TO-HEAD: MAGIC HISTORY WITH THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS
The teams met 4 times in the regular season with the Milwaukee Bucks winning them all.
On November 1st in the first game played the Bucks won 123-91 in the Amway.
On December 9th the Magic lost on the road 101-110.
December 28th saw Milwaukee secure a home win 100-111.
The final game was on February 8th and again the Bucks took the win in the Amway 111-95.
Across each of the four games the Milwaukee Bucks defence prevailed, restricting the Magic field goal percentage each time to around 37 or 38%.
Last season Orlando lost the 3 game series 1-2. The head-to-head record in the 114 regular season games played sees the Bucks leading 61-53.
In playoffs the Bucks and Magic had met once previously in 2001, where the Bucks won 3-1.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Take a look at the new episode of Penny For Your Thoughts, Episode 6 when Geraint, Mikey and Paul talk about games 1and 2, then look ahead to series going forward: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0eYnKe7e6U
You can catch the previous episodes and subscribe to our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl72EQRVc39Ozngxkz3vYrQ
Orlando Magic UK have an in depth preview of the series which is available to view here: https://orlandomagicuk.com/blog/the-2020-nba-playoffs/
KEYS TO THE GAME
There is little to write differently here from the preview of the series and of game 2.
In our preview post for the series I wrote how the Magic need to defend the 3, take care of the ball and not foul. This focus remains but I did amend one thing in that statement being the Magic need to avoid silly fouls. These are areas the Milwaukee Bucks seek to exploit. The Magic addressed those issues in the most emphatic way in game 1. In game 2 the 3 ball was a huge problem.
Orlando’s defensive discipline must return to the standard of game 1. The handling errors have been minimal in the first two games of the series and is a huge bonus for the Magic in removing a source of easy opponent points.
Containing Giannis, Middleton and Bledsoe as in game 1 is a must, a task very few defences manage.
In all honesty this one feels similar to going into the game 3 defeat in the Amway against Toronto last season. The series is tied with there being a big opportunity for Steve Clifford’s Magic to take a second game. Lose and the series becomes hugely in Milwaukee’s favour.
For Orlando to win again it will require all of the above and tonight the offence has to find a rhythm. Too many experienced players failed to support Vooch by scoring in game 2. To hit the 3 ball consistently and to score in close on a swarming Milwaukee defence is a must. The team leaders will again need to inspire, to fight and for all to play to their best.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!!