Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic Preview
Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will travel to Florida for a matchup with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. The Lakers come into this game having won four straight games and are 9-1 in their last 10, with an overall record of 21-3. In other words, they’re on a 70 win pace. This team has been better than most “experts” thought they’d be, and there’s a chance they could still get better. The synergy James and Anthony Davis have developed and their work in the pick-and-roll is destroying teams.
The Magic have been a bit of a disappointment despite sitting in the eighth spot in East at the moment. Because, well, being eighth in the East doesn’t really mean anything. You have to watch them play and take a peek into their numbers to see why they’re a disappointment. Coach Clifford’s team sits at no. 28 in field goal percentage (43.0) and 3-point percentage (33.0). Their defensive rating is in the bottom five but their net rating is only minus-0.3 because they have a top 10 defense, and that’s where their bread-and-butter lies. The Magic excel at closing out on shooters, getting deflections, blocking shots and corraling available defensive rebounds. However, their offense needs to improve to at least the middle of the pack in order to be taken seriously.
Time: 7 PM ET
Arena: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Channel: FSFL, SPECSN
Lakers: Avery Bradley (O), DeMarcus Cousins (O), Anthony Davis (Q), Kyle Kuzma (Q), Rajon Rondo (Q)
Magic: Al-Farouq Aminu (O), Mo Bamba (Q), Nikola Vucevic (O)
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
The Laker’s previous game was a 142-125 smackdown of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night. James and company scored 39 points in the opening frame and didn’t score fewer than 32 points in a quarter the rest of the way.
What a night it was for Davis. He hit 50 points with 4:39 remaining in the game, his first half-century mark game in the purple and gold. Davis was a force, he scored points in transition, beat his matchup to loose balls, snagged offensive rebounds, and attacked the paint in an old fashioned high-scoring performance.
“No 3s, 20-for-29, and then living at the free-throw line, post-ups, offensive rebounds, crashes, all those types of things. Just an old-school performance and one for the ages,” coach Frank Vogel said about AD’s performance.
Davis made all 10 of his free throw attempts and added seven boards and six assists. It was the fourth time in his career that AD reached the 50-point mark and he described it as, “very special to do something like this in front of these great fans, a historical franchise, and my teammates, especially the way we’ve been playing.”
James had 32 points, four rebounds and 13 assists in only 27 minutes of game action and Alex Caruso chipped in 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting off the bench.
The Lakers aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They play a suffocating brand of defense and get high percentage shots because of the attention drawn by their two stars. The Magic have the players with the wingspan to disrupt LA’s offensive flow, but can they themselves get enough production on the offensive end to make this a contest?
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
The Magic lost 110-101 to the conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. Orlando was down by as many as 18 in the game and was held to 38 percent shooting from the field and 32.3 percent from the 3-point line.
They shot just 29.5 percent in the first half, along with 14.3 percent on their 3s. They were bullied on the interior, losing the rebounding battle 54-44, and drawing the ire of head coach Clifford.
“You can’t come on the road and get smacked on the glass like that. there’s got to be some physicality,” Clifford said.
Evan Fournier led all Orlando players with 26 points. He also added four rebounds and two assists. Terrence Ross scored 23 on an efficient 8-for-14 shooting night, while no other player in the starting lineup shot above 41 percent for the game.
The Magic have some very interesting pieces: Jonathan Isaac is an elite 3-and-D player who leads the NBA in blocks (2.9), Markelle Fultz has been revived–averaging 12 points on 47.9 percent shooting, and Aaron Gordon is one of the more versatile players in the league. However, the fit with those three and their lack of spacing from the center position has hurt them on the offensive end of the floor. Good thing they play in the East, so ultimately it might not even matter. Below .500 to make the playoffs for the win!
Key Player Matchups
Jonathan Isaac vs. Lebron James
Isaac has been one of the best defensive players in the league all season, and he’s given some of the better offensive players in the league fits so far. For instance, in the three games, the Magic and Raptors have played, Isaac has matched up on Pascal Siakam for a total of 22:10 and held him to 33 total points. In addition, in the lone game against the Mavericks, Isaac spent 7:25 guarding Kristaps Porzingis and held the 7-foot-1 big to five points on 2-for-9 shooting, and blocked him twice. The defense is great, but Isaac still has to improve his outside shot–he’s only shooting 32.4 percent on 3s. His matchup is none other than the possible MVP. During LA’s four-game winning streak Lebron James is averaging 27.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game on 50-44-87 shooting splits. In short, Isaac’s defensive chops are going to be put to the test tonight.
Aaron Gordon vs. Anthony Davis
Davis is unstoppable. That’s not hyperbole. It’s not a hot take. It’s a fact. AD has been an ace on the defensive end of the court, disrupting the oppositions flow with deflections, challenges at the rim and switching onto guards on the perimeter and holding his own. Above all, AD and James have developed the most deadly pick-and-roll combo in the league. Gordon is a fascinating player who might just need a change of scenery and a change in mentality. I believe if Gordon was used like Draymond Green or Bam Adebayo–offensive catalyst operating out of the high post– he’d have more success.
Turning to the Lakers dynamic duo is always a safe bet, in real hoops and in fantasy. James is a consistent threat to post a triple-double, therefore I always recommend picking him up if you’re able to. He’s going for $10.9k on FanDuel with fantasy projections for 47.7. AD joins James as one of the best players in fantasy; he’s available for a salary of $11.8k with projections for 46.7.
On the Orlando side, there are three guys that are available for decent prices. The trio for the Magic are solid pickups: Gordon ($6.4k with projections for 27.6), Fournier ($6.4k with projections for 26.4), and Isaac ($6.7k with projections for 29).
Bet on Matchup
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