Orlando Magic vs Indiana Pacers tonight in seeding game 3. It’s game day Magic fans! This is a tough one but it’s an opportunity for us to put up a third win in this restarted NBA season.
The game has a U.K. tip time of 11:00pm. As always it will be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass. The match has been selected for broadcast on Sky Sports Arena so U.K. fans can watch it through there also.
OUR PLAYOFF PICTURE
Orlando sit in the 7th seed position after our wins against Brooklyn & Sacramento. A post-season appearance is not yet secured but we remain in a strong position. Our record is now 32 & 35.
We are 8 wins ahead of the 9th placed Washington Wizards. Having lost night to our opponents of tonight (the Indiana Pacers) the chances for Washington look increasingly remote. With 5 games left to play they have a 24 & 43 record. To force a play in tournament Washington need to be within 4 games of the 8th placed seed.
As I said above Brooklyn won their second seeding game on Sunday night over the Wizards 110-118. The Nets remain in the 8th seeding position with a 31 & 35 record.
As to who we could face the top seed in the East was secured long ago by the Milwaukee Bucks. Should we finish as the 7th seed our opponents in the playoff first round increasingly look like being the defending Champions, the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are 4 wins ahead of the Celtics in 3rd.
Orlando are on a good run at this time. Including games prior to the hiatus, in our last 10 games we are 8-2, winning 5 on the bounce. In the NBA offensive rankings we continue improving as the Magic are putting up strong scoring games since the restart. We are still at 22nd on the season, with an improved rating of 108.5, whilst our average scoring grew to 107.1 points per game (leaping to 25th in the NBA).
Our defensive ranking has been dropping back & continued to do so. Remaining 10th at a slightly decreased rating of 109.1, we are allowing only 107.6 points per game (now 6th for opponents PPG in the NBA).
Our defensive game has been strong against both the Nets & Kings. Yes, we have conceded a combined total of 234 points in those games but there is a reason. In both games during the 4th quarter the Magic have been holding a lead of 30 points or more. This has allowed Coach Clifford to play role players such as Melvin Frazier Jr for long periods, seeing us concede sizeable chunks of that advantage at the benefit of resting the starters. Across those 4th Q’s we have conceded 74 points.
MAGIC INJURY REPORT & STARTERS
We all know what comes next! Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) has now left the Orlando bubble to begin the long road to recovery from the devastating tear to his left ACL. This will see JI out for potentially 12 months. Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 PPG) (torn meniscus) did not travel to the restart in Walt Disney World being out for the season.
Against Sacramento our starting lineup remained DJ Augustin (10.4 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.7 PPG), James Ennis III (6.1 PPG), Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.6 PPG). I would be a little surprised if Coach Clifford decided to change this yet.
From the bench we have Markelle Fultz (12 PPG), Michael Carter-Williams (7.3 PPG), Terence Ross (14.8 PPG), Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG ), Wes Iwundu (5.2 PPG), Khem Birch (4 PPG), Gary Clark (3.2 PPG), BJ Johnson (1.6 PPG), Vic Law (0 PPG) & Melvin Frazier Jr (1.1 PPG).
OUR OPPONENTS – THE INDIANA PACERS
The Indiana Pacers are currently 5th in the East with a 41 & 26 record. As earlier highlighted the Pacers come into tonight having beaten the Washington Wizards 111-110 in last night’s outing. Results in the remaining NBA seeding games could see the Pacers finish in the 4th, 5th or 6th seed. They are locked in a battle with the Miami Heat (sat 4th at 42-25) & the Philadelphia 76ers (sat 6th at 40-27).
The Pacers offensive rating of 110.5 sees them 17th in the NBA, scoring an average of 109.6 points per game. Their defensive rating is 6th in the NBA at 108.4, whilst allowing opponents an average of 107.5 points per game.
The Pacers have plenty of injury concerns listed on ESPN. Victor Oladipo (13.9 PPG) missed last night’s win with a knee issue & is listed as being day-to-day. Domantas Sabonis (18.5 PPG) & Goga Bitadze (3.1 PPG) are listed as out. Jeremy Lamb has not travelled to Orlando due to a knee injury.
The starting lineup last night was TJ Warren (19.5 PPG), Aaron Holiday (9.6 PPG), Justin Holiday (8.3 PPG), Myles Turner (16.4 PPG) & Malcolm Brogdon (16.4 PPG). From the bench they have ample support from Doug McDermott (10.3 PPG), TJ McConnell (6.5 PPG), Edmond Sumner (4.4 PPG) & JaKarr Sampson (4.3 PPG).
We have already played the Pacers twice this season & lost. On November 10th, way back on game day 10 the Magic lost in the Amway 109-102. A second defeat followed on November 23rd for the Magic by 106-111. Last season we won the series 3-1. Those 3 wins came consecutively after the Pacers had won the previous 7 games. The all time head-to-head record in the 112 regular season games played sees the Magic down 49-63 & 5-10 down in the 15 playoff games.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
The Magic are 17-10 when they lead after the first quarter, 12-23 when they trail.
Orlando are 26-2 when leading going into the 4th quarter.
When the Magic score 110 points or more they are 23-2. Hit 115 points or more & they won all 19 games. When scoring at least 120 points the Magic won all 14 games on the 2019-20 season.
Against teams over .500 Orlando have a 5-26 record. With the teams we face in this coming week that is far from ideal. The Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers & Boston Celtics are all in this category. As fans we all know this has been exactly where our struggle for wins has been this season. Of the 6 seeding games remaining two sub .500 teams await, being the Brooklyn Nets & New Orleans Pelicans.
To check out the schedule Click Here.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
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AND FINALLY – THE KEYS TO THE GAME
Tonight is a chance to take the win & consolidate our position. The Pacers are potentially vulnerable on the second night of a back-to-back & with players missing. However, both games this season saw the Pacers shorthanded but they found a way to win.
I expect the Pacers to come out fighting for the win as they continue their seeding battle. Never underestimate the spirit & fight in the Pacers squad.
The Magic defence will have to contain the scoing abilities of TJ Warren, Aaron Holiday, Malcolm Brogdan & Myles Turner. In McConnell & McDermott there is potential scoring from the bench. Warren has been on a tear in his last two games scoring 53 against the 76ers & 34 against the Wizards.
We could see the Magic react to the JI injury with a renewed vigour & come out swinging in this one again. The Magic have got themselves to the free throw line & shot it well for a valuable source of easy points. Good ball movement was key against Brooklyn & Sacramento, as a team we had 31 assists in both games. That has directly led to 6 players being in double figures for scoring in those matchups.
As you look at the defensive & offensive ratings & averages per game very little seperates our two teams. This could be a tight game!
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM! LET’S GO MAGIC!