Tonight the Magic face the Knicks in another must win game for Orlando as they aim to keep in the race for the play-in tournament. This will be a difficult task as the team from New York are playing some strong and effective basketball coming into the game.
- The tip off time in the Amway Center, Orlando is again 11pm for us U.K. fans (7pm in Orlando).
- To watch here in the U.K. you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
The Orlando Magic
- Orlando have a 30-43 record, remaining 13th in the Eastern Conference. This sees the Magic 2 games back from Washington (12th), 3 from Indiana (11th) and 4.5 of Chicago (10th).
- The Magic have won 4 of the last 10 games played.
- On the season Orlando score 111.7 points per game (26th of 30) and concede 114.4 points per game (17th of 30).
- Last game saw Orlando take a solid home court victory over the Washington Wizards by 112-122. Gary Harris led the Magic in scoring as he equalled his season high with 22 points. The team had great balanced scoring. Franz Wagner piled in 20 points and Paolo Banchero provided 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Markelle Fultz had 17 points, whilst Wendell Carter Jr rounded out the starters scoring with 14. From the bench came Cole Anthony to record 16 points and Mo Wagner was impactful as the back up centre with 15 points. For the Magic this win snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Wizards, whom they face again next week.
The New York Knicks
- Like the Magic the Knicks are fighting for something. For New York it is to attain home-court advantage in the playoffs. Their 42-32 record, sees them 5th in the Eastern Conferences, 4 games back of Cleveland in 4th.
- Coach Tom Thibodeau sees his team on a two game losing streak, having won 5 of their last 10 played. They have an impressive road record, winning 22 of 37 played.
- The Knicks score 115.4 points per game (13th of 30) and concede 112.8 (12th of 30).
- This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Knicks. Last night they fell to defeat in Miami, to the Heat by 120-127.
Squad And Injury News
- For Orlando Jonathan Isaac (hamstring) is out for the season.
- The Magic will again be without Jalen Suggs (concussion).
- For New York only injury question is against Mitchell Robinson, he is questionable with a knee contusion.
The Big Picture As The Magic Face The Knicks
- The Magic are getting to experience playoff like basketball as they continue to try and make the postseason. Though the chance remains remote the experience of playing meaningful games and winning in tight matchups is invaluable.
- By taking a 30th win of the season the Magic have now exceeded the bookmaker’s expectations by some distance. Tangible progress has been made by the team this season, having already attained 8 more wins than the previous campaign, with 9 games remaining (including tonight).
- The head-to-head history is very tight and sees the Magic leading the Knicks by 63-62 in regular season games. However New York has won the last 3 games against Orlando. Both meetings this season Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle lead the Knicks to victory.
- The Knicks play a slower paced game and use the clock. They are far from the highest volume shooting team, however expect a barrage from beyond the arc. The Knicks also get to the foul line a lot, shooting over 25 attempts per game (4th in the NBA). This is a team that shoot volume over accuracy. The Knicks dominate the boards on both ends of the court and protect the ball with very few turnovers. New York allow teams to shoot three-pointers but contest it well. They trail the league in forcing turnovers and in making blocks.
- Having 25.5 and 23.8 points per game respectively containing Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson is a must for Orlando. Randle is averaging a double-double per game on the season with 10.1 rebounds to go with the points production. Randle is having a career year in almost every category and is top 10 in many NBA statistics. Brunson is a team leader in assists at 6.2 per game.
- Paolo Banchero continues to lead the Magic scorers with 20 points per game. He is followed by Franz Wagner (18.8), Wendell Carter Jr (15.6), Markelle Fultz (14.1) and Cole Anthony (12.6).
Two To Watch As The Magic Face The Knicks
- Let’s talk Paolo Banchero and the current narrative around the Rookie of the Year race. No other rookie is producing the figures or carrying the team load that Paolo is. Opposing teams are planning for Paolo, he is facing constant double teaming against a team’s best defensive player. It will be the same tonight. Jalen Williams, Walker Kessler, Bennedict Mathurin and Keegan Murray are all supremely talented but each has an established player alongside them who opponents plan for first. Consider this nugget from the Orlando Magic PR showing Paolo has 42 games this season with 15+ points and 5+ rebounds. That is more than double any rookie in this draft class (J. Smith: 20, Mathurin: 17, J. Williams: 17, K. Murray: 13). Paolo has scored at least 20-points-plus 35 times, none of the other rookies are close to this. Banchero also has five 30-plus-point games, with Mathurin being the only other rookie with more than one 30-point-plus game. Averaging 20.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists only 5 rookies since 1973-74 have averaged those three stats at 20-6-3. They are Michael Jordan, Walter Davis, Larry Bird, Blake Griffin and Luka Doncic.
- Mitchell Robinson is a the Knicks starting centre. He is their man for blocks and rates third in the NBA for offensive rebounding. He contributes solidly in points per game and over the past month (14 games) is averaging an improved 8 points per game.
Tonight, before the Magic face the Knicks there will be a celebration in the Amway Center. Former Magic sharpshooter Dennis 3D Scott will be honoured by being inaugurated into the Orlando Magic Hall Of Fame. He will also be introduced to the crowd in the arena during the game.
Let’s Go Magic!