New Orleans Pelicans vs Orlando Magic. Tonight the Magic face the New Orleans Pelicans in the final seeding game. It’s game day Magic fans!
The game has a most unfriendly U.K. tip time of 2am. As always the game will be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass. This game has not been selected for broadcast here in the UK on Sky Sports.
THE MAGIC PLAYOFF PICTURE
Orlando’s playoff return is secured & we know our opponents.
The Magic now have a combined season record standing at a disappointing 32-40. That record leaves us in the 8th seed position in the Eastern Conference.
That seeding means that the Magic must face the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs first round. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP & boasting a record of 56-16 means the Bucks will be a very hard series for the Magic.
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Since the restart the Magic are 2-5 in the seeding games, on a losing run of 5 games now. The seeding games have enphasised the season story for Orlando. Face a team at sub 500 & we likely win. Face a team of plus 500 & we lose. Brooklyn on Tuesday night bucked that trend by taking the win.
In the NBA offensive rankings the Magic are still 23rd, with a worsened rating of 108.2 (points scored per 100 team possessions). We are averaging 106.9 points per game (25th in the NBA).
Our defensive ranking dropped after the Brooklyn defeat & is now 10th in the NBA, with a rating of 109.3 (points conceded per 100 opponents possessions). We surrender an average of 108 points per game (5th for opponents PPG in the NBA).
MAGIC INJURY REPORT
Lets start with the long term & unchanging absences. Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) left the Orlando bubble & had successful surgery to tear of his left ACL. Isaac is out for potentially 12 months. Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 PPG) (torn meniscus) did not travel to the restarted NBA season in Walt Disney World & remains out.
Michael Carter Williams (7.2 PPG) is day-to-day with a foot injury & is listed as out for tonight.
Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) has a strained hamstring & is also day-to-day, he is listed also out tonight.
Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG) is out with an illness (non COVID related).
Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG ) missed the Nets game through a migraine.
Finally, some better news for the Magic as Terence Ross (14.7 PPG) returned to the bubble. He received an all clear on the tests on a personal medical issue (non-COVID related) & is now in the NBA quarantine protocol again. He is definitely out of the game tonight as a result.
Again Coach Clifford has had decisions to make about risking players in what is a meaningless game. The risk is in my opinion too much with the playoffs on the horizon & this is clearly the view taken by the Magic.
ORLANDO MAGIC STARTERS
Is this the game for Coach Clifford to change Orlando’s starting lineup?
Tuesday’s starters were again DJ Augustin (10.3 PPG), James Ennis III (6.4 PPG), Gary Clark (3.6 PPG), Wes Iwundu (5.6 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.5 PPG).
From the bench we have Markelle Fultz (12.1 PPG), Khem Birch (4.3 PPG), BJ Johnson (2.3 PPG), Vic Law (0.7 PPG) & Melvin Frazier Jr (1.7 PPG) to choose from.
Coach Clifford has to look at when to resume Markelle Fultz in the starting lineup. His minutes against Boston & Brooklyn were the most that Fultz has played since the restart. I would now be a little surprised if this happens until game 1 of the playoffs.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The New Orleans Pelicans come into the game as the 13th place team in the Western Conference with a combined record for the season of 30 & 41. In the bubble they are 2-5 & are already elimanted from the playoffs.
Their last outing was on Tuesday night, ending in defeat by 106-112 to the Sacramento Kings.
The Pelicans rank 17th offensively in the NBA with a rating of 110.5. Scoring on average 115.7 points per game the Pelicans are the 5th best in the NBA i n this category.
Defensively their rating of 111.7 gives them the 19th defensive ranking in the NBA. However by allowing opponents an average of 116.9 points per game their defence is suspect as in this category they rate 27th of 30 teams.
THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS SQUAD
It is old news now that the Pelicans had a summer that saw Anthony Davis leave for the Lakers & in came Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart & Brandon Ingram. They also feature a player that we as Magic fans still love, JJ Redick.
Darius Miller (Achilles) is out for the season & did not travel to Orlando.
JJ Redick (15.3 PPG), Derrick Favors (9 PPG), Zion Williamson (22.5 PPG) (knee), Jrue Holiday (19.1 PPG) (elbow), Brandon Ingram (23.8 PPG) (knee) & Zylan Cheatham (1.3 PPG) did not play in the last game.
Their starting lineup on Tuesday was Josh Hart (9.9 PPG), Lonzo Ball (11.8 PPG), Nicola Melli (6.6 PPG), E’Twaun Moore (8.3 PPG) & Jaxson Hayes (7.3 PPG). Kenrich Williams (5 ppg).
From the bench came Jahill Okafor (8.1 PPG), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (5.2 PPG), Frank Jackson (5.9 PPG), Kenrich Williams (3.6 PPG) & Sindarius Thornwell (7 PPG).
It is difficult to believe that Coach Alvin Gentry will have his stars return for what is for them a meaningless season closer.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: MAGIC HISTORY WITH THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The head-to-head record since the team moved to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002 (& eventually became the Pelicans) sees the Magic leading 20-18 in the 38 regular season games played.
The teams have met once this season, the Magic winning 130-119 in New Orleans. We won both matchups last season, so are on a 3 win run against the Pelicans.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
In this weeks episode of Penny For Your Thoughts we discussed the weeks fixtures amongst a whole lot more. If you have not watched it yet you can catch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgmMP-FDuyU
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A LOW KEY GAME
Lets be honest about this game, it has no bearing on anything. A win will not alter the team mindset as we all know the lineup will be different come the playoffs & game 1. A good performance may improve some confidence of those playing but little more than that.
Orlando will have a weakened squad playing & so will the Pelicans. This is a game for some of the role players to get minutes & show Coach Clifford their worth as they did against Boston but failed spectacularly to do so against Brooklyn. The Brooklyn game felt more like the scrimmage games as players used it for conditioning but effort levels were low. I expect a similar feel tonight.
A lead at the end of the first quarter or going into the 4th has seen Orlando victorious more often than not this season.
Active hands, good levels of energy & effort, combined with good ball movement on offence could see us win.
Probably of greater importance is to avoid any further injury issues.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!!