The Milwaukee Bucks, are holding a 3-1 lead in the series and leaves our Orlando Magic fighting to stay in the 2020 NBA Playoffs tonight.
It’s game day Magic fans, possibly for the final time this season!
The game has a great UK tip time of 8:30pm. The match will be broadcast live and on demand via the NBA League Pass. Yet again unfortunately Sky Sports has not selected the game for broadcast here in the UK.
LOOKING BACK: GAMES 1 THROUGH 4
The series has seen an undermanned 8th seed Orlando Magic battling a fully fit number 1 seed in the form of the Milwaukee Bucks. There have been many missed opportunities that could have seen a wholly different perspective on tonight’s game.
Orlando have been shorthanded throughout but are the only team in the East not to have been swept in the first round. Of the 16 quarters played Orlando have won 6 of them, tied 1 and been within 2 points of tying two others. This isnt applauding failure but it is a dose of realism that as fans we should be aware of.
The basketball world knows what happened 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 and the opportunity of a second win was missed.
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.
Simply put this was a game where Orlando failed to match the Milwaukee intensity, looking every inch a top offensive and defensive team. The Bucks took an 11 point lead during the first quarter and had extended this to as many as 28 during the half. Orlando gave up 70 first half points. By the close a score of 121-107 was closer than many dared to hope.
An undermanned Magic were unable to compete in the first half and not helped when James Ennis and Marvin Williams scuffled, resulting in both being ejected.
The Magic were sloppy, committing many turnovers and directly resulting in 25 fast break points. Markelle Fultz in a terrible performance had 5 of the team’s 18 turnovers alone.
Giannis flexed his muscles to finish with 35 points, being unstoppable by a Magic defence that was always a step behind and a moment late. Middleton found his game scoring 17 points and 6 assists, as did Bledsoe with 14 and 8.
Orlando were led by a strong game from DJ Augustin with 24 points and 6 assists from the bench. Ross and Vooch both made 20.
Orlando actually made 19 shots from the 3, only the second time in NBA history a team has made that many 3’s and lost! That and the play of the second half have to give the team some confidence.
Orlando came out swinging with commitment and determination but fell short during the 4th quarter. The final score of 121-106 in no way reflected the tight nature of the game, trailing by 3 going into the 4th quarter. A lead ballooned to 19 but the Magic fought cutting it to 7 with around 4 minutes left.
In this game the Magic offence played well for parts shooting a field goal percentage of 41% and going 40% from the 3 ball. Unfortunately the Bucks were better on both ends of the floor. The over all stats were close but tellingly again 16 turnovers led directly to 17 Milwaukee points.
Yet again Giannis was dominant as he tallied 31 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and a block. All 11 Bucks players contributed to the scoresheet, testament to their depth.
For Orlando Nikola Vucevic led the team again with 31 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks. Terence Ross was the next highest scorer with 19 points but going 1 of 8 from deep hurt. Ross tweeted out an apology to Magic fans saying the loss was on him. The truth is that in a team game there were others far more culpable.
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) left the bubble on Thursday and so is out. Coach Clifford admitted Aaron was unable to sprint up and down the court.
Michael Carter-Williams (7.2 PPG) is listed as out.
ORLANDO MAGIC STARTERS
With the injury update available at this time Coach Clifford likely to play the same starting lineup of Markelle Fultz (12.1 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG), James Ennis III (6.6 PPG), Gary Clark (3.7 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.6 PPG).
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
Coach Mike Budenholzer and his assistant team that includes Chad Forcier (assistant coach at Orlando 2016-18) run their team well. Budenholzer was the 2018-19 season Coach of the Year and came second in this year’s voting.
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).
There are no injury concerns for Coach Budenholzer.
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 1 and 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 the 4 games played.
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 as they are areas the Milwaukee Bucks expertly exploit.
Orlando’s defensive discipline and aggression must remain. The handling errors were minimal in the first two games of the series. Games 3 and 4 were a different story and it hurt, giving Milwaukee a source of easy points.
Containing Giannis, Middleton and Bledsoe as in game 1 is a must.
Hitting the 3 ball consistently again whilst getting scores in close on a this swarming Milwaukee defence is a must. In this category the Magic are averaging 15 per game. Quality ball movement again is required.
Vooch needs better help. He has scored 118 in the 4 games, that constitutes over 27% of our total points. He is now one of only four Magic players all time to have scored 30-plus points three times in a playoff series. Nobody has done it four times.
In all honesty this one depends on the Orlando player attitudes and character. Do they want to fight against a daunting deficit, win a second game to really give two fingers to the doubters? Or are they ready to get out of the bubble and return to their families? The opportunity for Steve Clifford’s Magic to take a second game still remains and pride will dictate if they attempt to do this or not. In Toronto last year that fight was not present and it showed in the performance and score as Orlando went out with a whimper.
LET’S GO MAGIC!!