On Magic Game Day 68 it is a challenging task as Orlando face Minnesota in the Amway Center. The Timberwolves have a lot of talent to use and are chasing an automatic playoff spot. For Orlando it is all about building on the positives as they begin a six game homestand.
To watch the game live or on demand in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription. The tip time from the City Beautiful is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being 12 midnight here in the UK (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
Time to dive into the history of the matchup and on what to expect tonight.
Season Record And Last Time Out
The Orlando Magic
Last time out on Wednesday night (9th March) Orlando took a win over the New Orleans Pelicans by 108-102. Surprisingly the Magic bench unit played the entire final quarter. The veteran presence of Terrence Ross and Gary Harris was pivotal, both making important shots through the final period.
Cole Anthony led the Magic with 19 points. His shooting was efficient and he also recorded 5 assists. Gary Harris scored 16 points, shooting 4 of 6 from deep. He also made 2 steals. Franz Wagner had 15 points having now scored double figures in 56 of his 67 games played. Terrence Ross came in with important fourth quarter points. His final total of 14 points was a much needed boost to his confidence. Wendell Carter Jr battled hard with Jonas Valanciunas. His stat line of 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists was a solid return for his efforts.
Having taken the win in New Orleans, the Magic now hold a record of 17 wins and 50 losses. This sees the Magic last in the Eastern Conference and holding the worst record in the NBA. Over the last 10 games played the Magic have won 4. The home record stands at 7 wins of 30 games played. On the road the record is 10 wins in 37 games played. Points per game sees the Magic scoring 103.8, whilst conceding 111.6.
The Minnesota Timberwolves
The T’Wolves have won 6 games straight and 8 of their last 10. Their record of 38 wins and 29 losses puts them 7th in the Western Conference, within striking distance of both Dallas and Denver for an automatic playoff spot. On the road they have won 16 of 33 games played. Points per game sees the T’Wolves leading the league by scoring 114.7. They match Orlando in conceding 111.6 per game.
As seen from their points scored per game, Minnesota are tearing games up offensively. Last time out was on Wednesday 9th (as with Orlando). Playing against the OKC Thunder Minnesota took a win by 102-132. Malik Beasley scored 33 points and Anthony Edwards made 16 points. Karl Anthony Towns recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Further double-digit scores came from Jalen McDaniels, Taurean Prince and Naz Reid. D’Angelo Russell dropped 12 assists.
Head-To-Head – The Minnesota Timberwolves
This will be the final matchup of the season against Minnesota. When the teams met in November Orlando had a 115-97 fight back victory, that included out scoring the T’Wolves by 24 points in the final quarter! Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner both had big nights, with great support from Jalen Suggs, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr.
Drama was part of last season’s meetings as Cole Anthony beat the buzzer. That three point dagger at the death gave Orlando a 97-96 win, to take a 4th straight win over Minnesota. The Timberwolves came to the Amway Center later in the season and dismantled the Magic 128-96 to split the series 1-1.
History is with us on this one. The all time head-to-head record in the 62 regular season games played sees the Magic leading by 41-23.
The teams have never met in the playoffs.
Our Opponents – The Minnesota Timberwolves
When we played in November I wrote not underestimate our opponents, they have a strong squad, bursting with talent. Nothing has changed, for a squad possessing depth, strength, experience and a whole lot of ability.
Head Coach Chris Finch took charge during last season, ending with a 16-25 record. This is his first full season in charge and he is seeing his team fight for an automatic playoff spot. He may make enforced changes to his rotation through injury. However he may get an important guy back also.
Last Starting Unit: D’Angelo Russell (PG), Malik Beasley (SG), Jalen McDaniels (PF), Anthony Edwards (SF), Karl Anthony Towns (C)
Bench Unit: Taurean Prince, Jaylen Nowell, Naz Reid, Jordon McLaughlin, Josh Okogie, Nathan Knight, Leandro Bolmaro, Jake Layman, McKinley Wright IV (DNP)
Injury Report: Patrick Beverley who missed the OKC game is no longer on the report so should be available. Jarred Vanderbilt (quad), Anthony Edwards (knee), Taurean Prince (back) and Jordon McLaughlin (groin) are all day-to-day and questionable.
The Orlando Magic Lineup And Injury Report
Coach Jamahl Mosely will be shuffling the pack again tonight. Markelle Fultz returns to the team after management of his return from injury saw him sit in New Orleans. Both two-way players Admiral Schofield and Ignas Brazdeikis were last night absent with the Lakeland Magic. They should return tonight as Orlando face Minnesota in the Amway Center.
For the injury report it is a case of “And Then There Were Two”. Jonathan Isaac (rehabilitation of surgically repaired left knee) and Bol Bol (out for the season after surgery to a foot injury) remain absent. the Magic go back-to-back in New Orleans.
Final Thoughts As Orlando Face Minnesota In The Amway Center
Orlando will need to shoot the ball effectively, as in New Orleans. A 47% field goal percentage and almost 38% from the three allowed the Magic to build a lead. Despite losing that lead the rhythm was present to pick up points at vital moments to take the win. The pace and ball movement of both Suggs and Fultz will help the team disrupt the Minnesota defence.
The Magic continue to hold the league’s best defensive rating since the All-Star break. That strength was present again as they held the Pelicans offence to some low numbers. New Orleans made just 7 of their 31 shots from 3-point range and only 4 fast break points. Against a team that lives at the line Orlando limited the Pelicans to only 18 total free throw attempts. This focus will need to be present again if they are to contain the Timberwolves offensive prowess.
Karl Anthony Towns is featured in the top 20 of many offensive statistics, along with those relating to blocks. Jared Vanderbilt is the same in respect of rebounding and steals. Anthony Edwards contribution is in scoring and steals, whilst D’Angelo Russell is providing over 7 assists per game (12th in the league).
The Timberwolves will provide a three point barrage, they shoot the most attempts per game in the NBA. They are 3rd in offensive rebounds and blocks, 4th in steals and get to the free throw line a whole lot.
The T’Wolves are susceptible to being scored on from deep, foul a lot and so will give free throws.
Finally, this will be another battle on the boards. Minnesota may get a lot of offensive rebounds but over all they also can be vulnerable on the glass. Bamba and Carter Jr have a lead role to play.
Let’s Go Magic!