Toronto Raptors vs Orlando Magic tonight in seeding game 4. Orlando face the defending NBA champions in a possible preview of the 1st round of the playoffs. It’s game day Magic fans!
The game has a U.K. tip time of 1am, the least friendly we’ve had since the restart. As always it will be available live & on demand via the NBA League Pass. The match has not been selected for broadcast on Sky Sports unfortunately.
OUR PLAYOFF PICTURE
Orlando now sit in the 8th seed position. The good work of our wins against Brooklyn & Sacramento was undone in a disappointing fashion by last nights performance against the Indiana Pacers. the damage was done in the first half where we coceded a dire 71 points. A post-season appearance is not yet secured but we remain in a strong position. Our record is now 32 & 36.
We are 8 wins ahead of the 9th placed Washington Wizards who have a 24 & 43 record. To force a play in tournament Washington need to be within 4 games of the 8th placed seed.
Brooklyn surprised everyone last night & won their second straight game with 119-116 scoreline over the Bucks. The Nets retook the 8th seeding position with a 32 & 35 record. They hold the 7th seed over us by virtue of a better win percentage.
Including games prior to the hiatus, Orlando in the last 10 games are 6-4. Since the restart we are 2-1 in the seeding games.
In the NBA offensive rankings even in defeat 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 108.6, whilst our average scoring is 107.1 points per game (25th in the NBA).
Our defensive ranking has been dropping back & continued to do so. Remaining 10th at a slightly decreased rating of 109.3, we are allowing 107.8 points per game (now 7th for opponents PPG in the NBA).
Our defensive game had been strong against both the Nets & Kings. Last night it was weak & at times missing completely. There was a feeling that we were not aggressive, conceding soft fouls when we should have been putting aggression into the foul….if your going to foul make it one that makes your opponent think twice before going against you again! 22 fouls & 18 turnovers is not a Magic stat line I take any pleasure in reading.
MAGIC INJURY REPORT & STARTERS
Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) left the Orlando bubble to begin another 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.
Orlando’s starting lineup remained DJ Augustin (10.3 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG), James Ennis III (6.2 PPG), Aaron Gordon (14.5 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.7 PPG) against Indiana. 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 (7.2 PPG), Terence Ross (14.9 PPG), Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG ), Wes Iwundu (5.2 PPG), Khem Birch (4.1 PPG), Gary Clark (3.2 PPG), BJ Johnson (1.6 PPG), Vic Law (0 PPG) & Melvin Frazier Jr (1.1 PPG).
OUR OPPONENTS – THE TORONTO RAPTORS
Have the Toronto Raptors performed beyond what was expected of them after losing Kawhi? For many the answer is yes but not for us at Orlando Magic UK. Before the season began in our Eastern Conference Preview we said the Raptors would compete & get a high seeding in the East. Simply put the Raptors are too good not to be in consideration for reaching the Conference Finals.
A starting lineup of Fred VanVleet (17.9 PPG), Pascal Siakam (23.5 PPG), Kyle Lowry (19.9 PPG), OG Anunoby (10.8 PPG) & Marc Gasol (7.6 PPG) is strong & potent.
From the bench comes Norman Powell (16 PPG), Serge Ibaka (15.8 PPG), Rondae Hollis Jefferson (6.9 PPG), Terence Davis (7.5 PPG), Chris Boucher (6.2 PPG) & Matt Thomas (4.3 PPG). That is a lot of scoring threat along with defensive ability.
The only notable injury is to Patrick McCaw (4.6 PPG) who is listed as out.
Speaking of their scoring prowess brings us to look at their NBA rankings. Sitting 2nd in the East with a 48-18 record they have won both of their seeding games, beating the Lakers & Heat. In the offensive rankings the Raptors rate 14th, at 111.4, whilst scoring an average of 112.8 points per game. Defensively they are 2nd at a rating of 104.9. They only allow opponents an average of 106.3 points per game, the top rated in the NBa in this category.
THE HEAD-TO-HEAD HISTORY
This will be the 4th time this season that we face the Raptors. It may not be the last!
Our recent record is poor against the Toronto Raptors. We played the Raptors 3 times in the opening weeks of the season losing all 3 games. The two road games were losses by 95-104, 97-113 & in the Amway we fell 90-83.
Last season the regular season series was split 2 & 2 & but as we know in the playoffs we lost 1-4. If you include the playoffs the Raptors have won the last 7 meetings between us.
The all time head-to-head record in the 88 regular season games played sees the Magic losing by 39-49. In the playoffs the record is even at 5 & 5.
THE MAGIC NUMBERS
The Magic are 17-10 when they lead after the first quarter, 12-24 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 5-27 record. Of the 5 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
We have to find some way to stop the efficient Toronto Raptor offence & more difficult find a way to score against the meanest defence in the NBA. Very few people expect Orlando to make any impact in this game & yes I guess as fans most of us have predicted a loss tonight.
That does not mean we should write ourselves off. Hands up who honestly expected the Nets to beat the Bucks last night….no one! But that is what they did. Why then should we not be capable of taking the game from Toronto? The games this season have been tight & with some slight improvements we could get a big result to restore confidence.
To do so we will have to play better as a team. We cannot see the ball getting stuck in hands as we did so often last night. Nikola Vucevic has to find some way to compete with Gasol who always gives him trouble.
An individual I’m highlighting who needs to turn up is Evan Fournier. His performance against Indiana was so far beyond unacceptable, too often he was absent on defence & slow in offence. His body language looks off & it is hurting the team. As a certain member of the Orlando Magic UK team said Evan needs a firm application of footwear to his posterior; well words to that effect anyway!
We surely can not be as bad again tonight. Time to react & reclaim 7th!
WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM! LET’S GO MAGIC!