The Orlando home opener against the Knicks sees regular season NBA basketball return to the Amway Center. A tough nights awaits the Magic against the in form team from New York.
The tip time is shown on the NBA app and the Orlando Magic website as being 12:00 midnight here in the UK (7:00pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando).
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A Contrast In Opening Night Performances
Results were poles apart for these two teams as each opened their season on Wednesday night.
Orlando tasted an emphatic defeat, beaten 97-123 by a more effective San Antonio Spurs team. The Magic only had 10 players available and Coach Mosely used them all. He saw the team led by a strong performance from Mo Bamba with 18 points, which included a trio of makes from three point land. Bamba continued his recent exceptional form in protecting the rim with 4 blocks.
Franz Wagner in his NBA debut was efficient for 12 points, whilst Jalen Suggs fought but struggled to have a positive impact beyond 10 points scored. Terrence Ross, Wendell Carter Jr and Cole Anthony also contributed with double digit scoring.
The New York Knicks by contrast are in a rich vein of form. They went 4-0 in the preseason and opened the new season with a 134-138 double overtime home victory over the Boston Celtics. That hard fought win came on the back of scoring from Julius Randle (34 points) and Evan Fournier (32 points). Mitchell Robinson had a double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds. A further three Knicks players made double figure scoring.
The Orlando Magic Injury Report
At the time of writing ESPN list Orlando as having several injury concerns that will again see the Magic with just 10 available players.
Gary Harris was a late scratch from the starting unit in San Antonio having issues around his right hamstring. He is listed as out.
E’Twaun Moore remains out having been diagnosed with a left sprained knee.
Chuma Okeke is also out with a hip injury described as a bone bruise.
Michael Carter-Williams is out after undergoing surgery to remove a bone fragment and repair his left ankle ligament.
Jonathan Isaac remains out as he rehabilitates from the left knee ACL injury that saw him miss all of last season.
Markelle Fultz is still out after last season’s left knee ACL tear and subsequent surgery.
The Magic Lineup
Coach Mosely used a starting lineup against the Spurs of Jalen Suggs (PG), Cole Anthony (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Wendell Carter Jr (PF) and Mo Bamba (C). That unit features a pair of rookies, a second year player and two entering their fourth NBA season. Together they have a combined aged of 106 and had just 343 NBA game experience between them.
This is likely to be the starting unit again tonight due to the injury issues present. If there is no change available from the bench will be Terrence Ross, Robin Lopez, Ignas Brazdeikis, Moe Wagner and RJ Hampton.
Our Opponents – The New York Knicks
Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau used an opening night starting unit of Kemba Walker (PG), Evan Fournier (SG), RJ Barrett (SF), Julius Randle (PF) and Mitchell Robinson (C).
From the bench came Obi Toppin, Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks and Jericho Sims. Kevin Knox II did not feature despite being available.
ESPN list Nerlans Noel as out with a knee injury, whilst Taj Gibson is doubtful for personal reasons.
In Randle they have a team leader. He is capable of stuffing the stats sheet with points, rebounds and assists. Evan Fournier was signed to fill the void left by the departure of Reggie Bullock. In Fournier’s MSG debut as a Knick he scored 32 points and sunk six threes, a trio of those being in the first period of overtime. He also added four steals and was a team-best +11 for the night. The talent of perennial “Magic Killer” Kemba Walker was not at its best against Boston. However given his ability it would be surprising if he failed to impress in his home town uniform.
In some ways despite their swagger the Knicks were possibly fortunate to beat Boston. There was some sloppy play, including dropping a 4 point lead with just nine seconds of regulation time remaining. What they did was be able to refocus and grind out a win in the dogfight that was double overtime.
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Final Thoughts For The Orlando Home Opener Against The Knicks
There can be no doubt that this game is a difficult match up for Orlando. After the improvements made last season the Knicks have a new found swagger. Through being well coached and possessing good depth there is an expectation for the Knicks to produce a strong season.
Orlando will need to return to their strong defensive principles of preseason. The numerous turnovers caused the Magic to concede 21 points. Rebounding on the defensive glass has to be better to reduce second chance opportunities. On the other end of the court there needs to be improved efficiency and shot selection.
It will not be easy but with these improvements in efficiency the Orlando home opener against the Knicks could be the Magic’s first win of the new season.
Let’s Go Magic!