The Milwaukee Bucks, the Eastern Conference’s top seed await the Orlando Magic in game 1 of the 2020 NBA Playoffs first round, a best of 7 games series.
It’s game day Magic fans! Orlando Magic playoff basketball is back for a second consecutive season.
This game has a super friendly UK tip time of 6:30pm. It will as always be broadcast live and on demand via the NBA League Pass. Unfortunately this game has not been selected for broadcast here in the UK by Sky Sports.
Orlando Magic UK have an in depth preview of the upcoming series which is available to view here: https://orlandomagicuk.com/blog/the-2020-nba-playoffs/
The Orlando Magic now have a combined season record standing at a disappointing 33-40. That record ranked as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. In the bubble the Magic frustratingly went 3-5, including going on a 5 game straight losing run. The seeding games emphasised the season story for Orlando; face a team at sub 500 we likely win, face a team of plus 500 and we lose.
In the NBA offensive rankings the Magic are still 23rd, with a rating of 108.5 (points scored per 100 team possessions). Averaging 107.3 points per game which 24th in the NBA. The defensive ranking is now 10th in the NBA, with a rating of 109.5 (points conceded per 100 opponents possessions). Orlando surrender an average of 108.3 points per game (5th for opponents PPG in the NBA).
For more stats on the Magic roster head to our team page.
MAGIC INJURY REPORT
The Orlando Magic had two long term absences: Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) (torn ACL) and Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 PPG) (torn meniscus). This changed when Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG) also left the NBA bubble on Friday in order to undergo “comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation” and will now be out for the rest of the season.
It would appear that both Evan Fournier and Terence Ross will be available to return to the squad after absence.
Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) (hamstring) is listed as out but pending further evaluation prior to shootaround.
Michael Carter-Williams (7.2 PPG) is still wearing a walking boot and 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 the Orlando starting line up of choice would be Markelle Fultz (12.1 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG), James Ennis III (6.6 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.6 PPG), being joined by either Gary Clark (3.7 PPG) or Wes Iwundu (5.8 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 either Gary Clark (3.7 PPG) or 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 come 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. That record did not reflect their form, only that they arrived in the bubble secure as the top seed in the East. They were able to use the scrimmage and seeding games as an extended pre-season, slowly working themselves to being ready for the postseason. They are 3rd in the league at scoring from 3 point land.
The Bucks rank 8th offensively in the NBA with a rating of 112.4, whilst scoring an average of 118.7 points per game (the best scoring record in the NBA). Defensively their rating of 102.9 whilst allowing opponents an average of 108.6 points per game gives them a the top defensive ranking in the NBA. Their defensive strategy is to not allow shots in the paint. It allows teams to shoot the 3 but the Bucks still defend that well. They do not foul and play one-on-one defence brilliantly.
There is a reason they are the number 1 ranked team in the NBA across the regular season.
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
Coached by Mike Budenholzer and an assistant team that includes Chad Forcier (assistant coach at Orlando 2016-18) the Bucks are a well run team. 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. He is 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 have met 4 times this 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 we 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 the playoffs the Bucks are 3-1 up having met in 2001.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
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KEYS TO THE GAME
We all know as one of our followers said this is almost “mission impossible”!
In our preview post I wrote how the Magic need to defend the 3, take care of the ball and not foul. Those three issues have been a factor for the Magic since the restart. Unfortunately they are also areas that the Milwaukee Bucks will seek to exploit.
Orlando’s defensive discipline must return. Every game in the bubble has seen the Magic concede in excess of 20 fouls. The high amount of handling errors plus the steals against us has been a source of points for opponents. In close games those points are crucial.
Solve our own failings then we still have Giannis, Middleton and Bledsoe to contain. Very few defences have managed that task but our best ‘D’ game will give them a hard time.
Milwaukee will come out fast, looking to put the series to bed quickly. The 2019 Conference Finals finished in heartbreak for them. Taking a 3-0 lead over the Raptors, Toronto won the next four on route to the title.
As we enter the playoffs Orlando are a sub 500 team, with an injury to arguably our most valuable player and on a poor run of form. Far from ideal but unlike last year the squad have playoff experience.
If the Magic hope to win a game (let alone the series) they will have to do all of the above, hit the 3 ball consistently and find a way to score in close on a swarming Milwaukee defence. To achieve this “Mission Impossible” Orlando will have to do it every night. The team leaders will need to inspire, to fight and for all to play to their best.
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!
LET’S GO MAGIC!!