Time to go again Magic fans, as preseason resumes in Orlando. The team return home to the Amway to face the Charlotte Hornets. This will be our third of four preseason games and our first back on home court.
The UK tip time is 12am midnight. To watch here in the U.K. you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription. The good news is tonight sees the return of commentary from David Steel, Jeff Turner and Dante Marchitelli.
PRESEASON IN ATLANTA
The first two games of this preseason schedule has seen the Magic win 1 and lose. Those two games in Atlanta had much to be happy with but also brought back some old frustrations.
The positives definitely begin with the fledgling partnership of Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony. The two games has seen them playing minutes together. Each player is taking shots and getting assists.
Nikola Vucevic has had two double-doubles. Aaron Gordon has returned to the court. Dwayne Bacon and Chuma Okeke have made positive early steps in the team.
The negatives mostly came in periods of preseason game 2 in Atlanta. A lack of focus, whilst indiscipline led to foul trouble and turnovers. This was joined by a familiar prolonged scoring drought and inability to hit a 3 pointer.
But that is what preseason is about. Find game fitness, work on rotations and improve execution on both ends of the court. These games are part of training camp, allowing chemistry and understanding to build.
A result is nice but far from essential.
NOW PRESEASON RESUMES IN ORLANDO
This will be the first game in the Amway since March 2nd!
The coaching staff from both teams have directly spoken. It is not unusual for teams to discuss plans to ensure teams get to face up to a variety of different defensive sets. This happened with Atlanta and will be the case against Charlotte. The example of this is in Atlanta both team agreed to set up in a zone defence after timeouts.
Dwayne Bacon will get an early opportunity to face his old team.
HOW WILL THE MAGIC LINE UP?
As this preseason resumes in Orlando the Magic will again be without Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, James Ennis and Al-Farouq Aminu again.
Mo Bamba has now been cleared to take part in full contact drills but there is still no clear date for his return to game action.
Terence Ross has been fully involved in practice for the last few days. His return to the court is closer. He could feature prior to the season start.
Coach Clifford may again use the starting line-up of Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Dwayne Bacon and Nikola Vucevic.
However the Coach could choose to make a change or two to that line-up if there are any late injury concerns.
Expect to see the core players minutes increasing again. There will still be plenty of rotation from the bench as Coach Clifford looks again at his squad, rotations, plays and builds up match fitness.
OUR OPPONENTS – THE CHARLOTTE HORNETS
Last season saw the Charlotte Hornets with a season record 23-42, ending 9th in the Eastern Conference. Finishing 30th in the NBA Offensive Ratings and 12th in the Defensive Rating told it’s own story. The Hornets needed to have better offence.
To that end they drafted LaMelo Ball at point guard with the 3rd pick. In free agency they paid Gordon Hayward a huge amount to join from Boston.
So far the Hornets have featured a starting line-up of Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, Cody Zeller
From the bench have come LaMelo Ball, Caleb Martin, Bismarck Biyombo, Miles Bridges, Malik Monk and Cody Martin plus others.
Tonight it is possible that Hayward will be missing having yesterday suffered an avulsion fracture to the fifth finger on the right hand.
In their opening two preseason games Charlotte have lost 111-100 and 112-109 to the Toronto Raptors.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Across our recent episodes of Penny For Your Thoughts we have spoken in some detail about this season’s Magic squad. In addition we’ve took a look in some part at the NBA Eastern Conference 2020-21, including the Hornets and a whole host more!
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To look back at Atlanta one last time and a final word on Markelle Fultz.
Across the two games Markelle is averaging 15.5 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He has controlled the Magic pace and the offence. His shot from the floor has been 50% and from 3 it is 60% (3 of 5 shooting).
It is already clear that the team is rapidly becoming Markelle’s as he focuses on being more assertive on offence.
LET’S GO MAGIC!