Tonight sees the Magic go back-to-back in Phoenix, taking on the high flying Suns. Phoenix lead the NBA and are taking down all comers. It will be no easy task for Orlando to get a result against this powerhouse team.
The tip time from the Phoenix Suns Arena is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being 2am here in the UK (9pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando). To watch the game live or on demand in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass 2021/22 subscription.
So join us as we take a look at the teams, history and a few key areas in the matchup.
The Orlando Magic
Orlando tonight play the third game of a 4 fixture road trip to the Western Conference. They have beaten Portland and last night lost in Utah. The trip concludes with a Valentines Day visit to face the Denver Nuggets and Aaron Gordon.
A 99-114 loss for the Magic to the Jazz saw offensive struggles in the first quarter, the Magic had only 12 points scored. Orlando trailed by 18 points in the second quarter but solid D and driving attacks to the rim saw them level during the third. Unfortunately that was as good as it got. Utah’s class showed as they responded, taking a 3 point lead into the final quarter and subsequently dominating.
Wendell Carter Jr led the team with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Cole Anthony helped out with 18 points, 6 rebounds 5 assists and a steal. Mo Bamba had a strong game 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Jalen Suggsplayed limited minutes but was effective defensively and finding a pass. He contributed 9 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. From the bench Terrence Ross had 11 points, Gary Harris 8 points scored and Chuma Okeke tallied 6 points to go with 4 steals.
Orlando now has a record of 13 wins and 44 losses. The Magic remain 14th in the Eastern Conference. Detroit hold the worst record in the NBA, having played a game less than the Magic. In the last 10 games played the Magic have won 5. The home record stands at 5 wins of 25 games played, whilst on the road it is 8 wins in 32 played. In points per game the Magic are scoring 103.1 whilst conceding 111.1. The efficiency rating for the Magic remains 28th on offence and 21st defensively.
The Phoenix Suns
The Suns; as defeated NBA Finalists are looking to go one better come the post season. At this time they comfortably hold the best record in the NBA and lead the West. They have a record of 45 wins and 10 losses. At home Phoenix have 23 wins in 28 games played. They have won 9 games of the last 10 played, including 4 straight. They score 113.3 points per game, conceding only 105.4. This team is rating 3rd on offence and 4th defensively in the NBA.
In their last game, a repeat of the NBA Finals of 2021 the Suns took a home court win over the Milwaukee Bucks by 107-131! The Suns held a double digit lead across the entire final 18 minutes of play on the back of strong defence and lethal shooting. Deandre Ayton dominated the scoring with 27 points, whilst Chris Paul threw in 17 points and 19 assists for an impressive double-double. Devon Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson and JaVale McGee all contributed with double-digit scoring.
Head-To-Head – The Phoenix Suns
It will be the first meeting of the season tonight for the Magic and Suns.
The all time head-to-head record in the 63 regular season games played sees the Magic losing by 26-37.
When the teams met in Phoenix last season Orlando lost 90-109. There was little if anything in the game for Magic fans to get excited about. For Orlando it was a woeful shooting performance. The effort and fight was there but not the options or opportunity to influence the game with only 8 fit players. When the teams met a month later in the Amway Center a final score of 111-112 saw Orlando take down Phoenix. Three lead changes in the game’s final 30 seconds peaked with a difficult move with 6.4 seconds remaining for an Evan Fournier layup winner.
The previous two seasons had also seen the Magic tie the series 1-1. Orlando have not won in Phoenix for two seasons.
The teams have never met in the playoffs.
Our Opponents – The Phoenix Suns
Head Coach Monty Williams has a wealth of talent from which to pick. He also benefits from having continuity with his core starting unit from last season.
Phoenix Suns Starting Unit: Chris Paul (PG), Devon Booker (SG), Mikal Bridges (SF), Jae Crowder (PF), DeAndre Ayton (C)
Phoenix Suns Bench: Cameron Johnson, JaVale McGee, Bismarck Biyombo, Ish Wainwright, Elfrid Payton
Both Torrey Craig and Aaron Holiday did not play having been acquired prior to the trade deadline.
Frank Kaminsky, Cameron Payne, Dario Saric and Landry Shamet are all out injured according to ESPN.
The Orlando Magic Injury Report
Again there is an obvious change to the Magic injury list on ESPN.
Jalen Suggs is no longer listed on the report. However his involvement will be interesting to see having been withdrawn against Utah for lengthy periods following the achilles soreness that affected him in Portland.
Moe Wagner is again updated as being out with a left rib contusion.
RJ Hampton remains out with a left knee injury.
Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely with no public timeline for his return. There are multiple fan tweets that he mouthed last night he’d be back soon.
Jonathan Isaac continues to be out as he rehabilitates the repaired left knee. There remains no public timeline for his return to the court.
Bol Bol, who was acquired at the trade deadline is out for the season having surgery to a foot injury.
The Orlando Lineup As The Magic Go Back-To-Back In Phoenix
The Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley should field an unchanged team with Suggs no longer appearing on the latest injury report.
Last Magic Starting Lineup – Cole Anthony (PG), Jalen Suggs (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Wendell Carter Jr (PF), Mo Bamba (C)
Magic Bench Unit – Gary Harris, Chuma Okeke, Terrence Ross, Ignas Brazdeikis, Admiral Schofield, Robin Lopez (DNP)
Final Thoughts As The Magic Go Back-To-Back In Phoenix
It was on the basics that Orlando fell short against Utah. The team were out rebounded by 40 to 50 and also saw Utah make 15 steals. The Magic had a total of 18 turnovers, from which Utah scored 24 points. Second chance points were 21-7 in the Jazz’s favour. The Magic committed unnecessary fouls, giving Utah 24 free throws, from which they made 21 points.
This simply can not happen against Phoenix and if it does they scoreline could be embarrassing.
Phoenix attack at pace and without relying on the three, a shot they take on average 31.5 times per game. As you would expect with Chris Paul in the team ball movement is the basis of their offence, seeing them get 26.7 assists per game. Their over all field goal percentage is ranked second, 4th inside the arc and 8th with the three. They are accurate with their attempts, which sees them lower ranked for offensive rebounding and second chance points. Their defence is such that they force turnovers and get 8.5 steals per game. They protect the glass and defend both the perimeter and paint as if it is a personal insult to allow a score.
Chris Paul leads the league in all assist categories and steals. Devon Booker is scoring 25.5 points per game. DeAndre Ayton, JaVale McGee and Mikal Bridges are all top 14 in two point percentage per game.
This is not being pessimistic but with the form Phoenix are in it is hard to see a win for Orlando. If the Magic address last nights failings the Magic will compete with a team expecting a deep post season run.
Let’s Go Magic!