Tonight in the Amway Center Orlando host a weakened Phoenix Suns team. Each is looking for a bounce back win after defeat in their last games. Phoenix sit atop the NBA whilst Orlando languish at the bottom, on paper the game is a huge mismatch.
To watch the game live or on demand in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription. The tip time from Florida is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being 12:00 midnight here in the UK (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
Join us; as we take a look at what has gone before and highlight a little of what to expect on Orlando Magic Game Day 66.
Season Record And Last Time Out
The Orlando Magic
Last time out Orlando took a heavy defeat as the Memphis Grizzlies again mauled the Magic by 96-124 in Tennessee. Memphis held the lead for 47 of the 48 minutes and led by at least 15 points for the entirety of the second half.
Cole Anthony led the team with 19 points. Franz Wagner got 15 points for his 55th double figure scoring game in 65 played. Mo Bamba again produced a double digit scoring game with 10 points. Moe Wagner led the bench. Returning after missing 9 consecutive games he produced a strong double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Ignas Brazdeikis worked hard off the bench, scoring 12 points.
After the loss to the Grizzlies Orlando now holds a record of 16 wins and 49 losses. This sees the Magic last in the Eastern Conference and once again 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 29 games played. On the road the record is 9 wins in 36 games played. Points per game sees the Magic scoring 103.8, whilst conceding 111.9.
The Phoenix Suns
The Suns comfortably hold the best record in the NBA and lead the West. They have a record of 51 wins and 13 losses. On the road Phoenix have 23 wins in 29 games played. In 2022 they have won 22 games and lost only 5, with 3 of those coming in the last 10 games. This team is rating top 3 on both offence and defensively in the NBA. Looking at points per game Phoenix score 113.9, whilst conceding 106.2.
Phoenix played last in Milwaukee on Sunday evening, losing by 122-132 to the Bucks in a repeat of last season’s NBA Finals. The Suns were without several key players and any meaningful contribution came from the five starters. Phoenix were led by Deandre Ayton with 30 points. Cameron Payne had 23 points, Jae Crowder contributed 19, Landry Shamet added another 17 and Mikal Bridges rounded out the double digit scoring with 14.
Head-To-Head – The Phoenix Suns
This is the second and final meeting of the season for the Magic and Suns.
The teams last met less than a month ago on February 12th, when Phoenix outclassed Orlando by 105-132. Devin Booker scored 26 points to lead the Suns to victory. Chris Paul dished out 15 assists. Jalen Suggs led the Magic with 20 points and 10 assists, as Chuma Okeke gave support with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Last season in Phoenix there was for Orlando a loss by 90-109. There was little if anything in the game for Magic fans to get excited about. For Orlando it was a woeful shooting performance. The effort and fight was there but not the options or opportunity to influence the game with only 8 fit players. However when the teams met a month later in the Amway Center a final score of 111-112 saw Orlando take down Phoenix. Three lead changes in the game’s final 30 seconds peaked with 6.4 seconds remaining for an Evan Fournier layup winner.
The previous two seasons had also seen the Magic tie the series 1-1.
Phoenix continue to hold a lead in the all time head-to-head record. Over the 64 regular season games played the Magic trail by 26-38. The teams have never met in the playoffs.
Our Opponents – The Phoenix Suns
As Orlando host a weakened Phoenix, Head Coach Monty Williams knows he will again have his options more limited. The depth they have assembled allows for a strong team to take the court but star talent is missing. The absence of both Devin Booker and Chris Paul has seen a couple of recent results go against them.
Injury Report – all missing the game in Milwaukee were Devin Booker (covid protocol), Chris Paul (thumb), Frank Kaminsky (knee), Cameron Johnson (quad) and Dario Saric (torn ACL). As I write their injury report has not been updated on ESPN or Basketball Reference.
Against Milwaukee the Phoenix Suns looked as below:
Starting Unit: Cameron Payne (PG), Landry Shamet (SG), Mikal Bridges (SF), Jae Crowder (PF), DeAndre Ayton (C)
Bench Unit: Torrey Craig, JaVale McGee, Bismarck Biyombo, Aaron Holiday, Elfrid Payton (DNP), Ish Wainwright (DNP)
The Orlando Magic Lineup And Injury Report
Coach Jamahl Mosely should be welcoming Wendell Carter Jr back tonight, he is set to return after illness. Being the first night of a back-to-back the Coach will likely have to choose whether Markelle Fultz plays or sits as the team continue to manage his return from injury. Jonathan Isaac (rehabilitation of surgically repaired left knee) and Bol Bol (out for the season after surgery to a foot injury) remain absent. Jalen Suggs, who is questionable with a right ankle sprain will again be a game time decision.
In the defeat to Memphis the Magic were as below:
Starting Lineup – Cole Anthony (PG), RJ Hampton (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Chuma Okeke (PF), Mo Bamba (C)
Bench Unit – Markelle Fultz, Moe Wagner, Terrence Ross, Admiral Schofield, Ignas Brazdeikis, Robin Lopez (DNP), Gary Harris (DNP)
Final Thoughts As Orlando Host A Weakened Phoenix
With the absence of both Chris Paul and Devin Booker it is certainly true that Orlando host a weakened Phoenix Suns team. However they still have talent and remain a force on the court. Payne, Holiday and Shamet are all effective in the back court. DeAndre Ayton, JaVale McGee and Mikal Bridges are all very capable two-point scorers.
As to their style of play, expect little to change. Phoenix attack at pace and without relying on the three, a shot they take on average 31.6 times per game. Ball movement is the basis of their offence, seeing them get over 27 assists per game. Their over all field goal percentage is ranked second, 4th inside the arc and 5th with the three. They are accurate with their attempts, which sees them lower ranked for offensive rebounding and second chance points. Their defence is such that they force turnovers and get 8.6 steals per game. The defensive play is elite, jealously protecting the glass, the perimeter and the paint. They somehow also manage to do it without fouling excessively.
The return of Wendell will be huge for Orlando. He and Bamba will have to be at their best against Ayton and Bridges.
If through the Magic defensive play Phoenix can be slowed scoring the Magic will have to still find consistent scoring. That can come from playing again at a sustained pace, preventing one of the leagues best defensive opponents from having an opportunity to get set.
It is no easy task but…
Let’s Go Magic!