Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Preview
The Milwaukee Bucks have been red-hot over this first stretch of this season and they’ll be looking for their 15th consecutive win tonight as they host the Orlando Magic. While it is still very early, if the NBA playoffs started today, the Bucks and Magic would be matched up in the first round as the Bucks are first in the Eastern Conference with a 20-3 record.
The Magic are 8th in the East with an 11-11 record, but the Magic seem to be gaining some steam as they have won their last four games entering tonight’s matchup. Orlando is just 3-7 on the road and the Bucks are 10-1 at Fiserv Forum.
The Bucks and Magic previously played this season in Orlando on November 1, but the Bucks blew them out 123-91 with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds.
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Channel: NBA TV
Magic: Al-Farouq Aminu, Nikola Vucevic (O)
Bucks: Dragan Bender (O)
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
The Orlando Magic have been a perfect 4-0 in the month of December with wins over the Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, and Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ve been able to keep pace with high-scoring teams like the Suns and limit teams like the Cavs defensively.
In their 93-87 win over Cleveland on Friday, they turned up the pressure in the fourth quarter, holding the Cavs to just 17 points.
“It’s just a matter of getting back to Magic basketball, which is a hard-playing team, out-execute teams and just be disciplined defensively,” guard Evan Fournier said.
The Magic were led by their sixth man, swingman Terrance Ross, who had 21 points. Evan Fournier had 18 points and Aaron Gordon had 14. DJ Augustin rounded out the group of players that reached double figures with 10 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
The fact the Magic have been able to win without their best player, center Nikola Vucevic, bodes well for them. When Vucevic returns, Khem Birch should feel even more comfortable playing relief minutes off the bench, giving Steve Clifford another option off the bench.
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
The Bucks have been absolutely dominant on their 14-game winning streak. They’ve scored 119 or more points in six of their last seven games. They’ve been led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who responded to Detroit’s physical play with a 35-point performance.
Two nights later in what could have been considered an NBA Finals preview, the Bucks completely outclassed the Los Angeles Clippers to the tune of a 119-91 shellacking over Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Co.
Giannis has been knocking down his shot, trying to put to bed the thoughts that his jumper is a weakness.
“Obviously, yes, I’m a little more confident with my jump shot,” Antetokounmpo said about the difference in his game this year as opposed to last. “I believe in myself more. I think my teammates believe in me even more this year. But I’m just aggressive. I think since the year started, I’ve been on a mission to help my team win every night and I’ve stayed on that path.”
Giannis had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the win. His fellow All-Star, Khris Middleton, had 17 points and Eric Bledsoe notched 10. As has been the case for the Bucks since last season, the bench played a huge role in the game, as they were responsible for 50 points, with three players scoring in double figures.
Key Player Matchups
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Aaron Gordon
Giannis and Gordon are two players that seem to be made from similar molds. They are lanky, athletic power forwards with the speed to guard many positions. Giannis is honestly just on a different level this season than Gordon is. Gordon can on occasion break out as he did against Phoenix for 32 points, but he can be inconsistent and seems to be on pace for the lowest averages he’s had in three seasons.
Khris Middleton vs. Jonathan Isaac
Middleton is a tough guard with the ability to drive and knock down shots from outside. If anyone can make things difficult, it’s someone like Issac, who is a long, athletic three, with the ability to guard at least three positions. Offensively though, Middleton is the superior player and his defense is also top-notch.
With Vucevic out, Giannis and Aaron Gordon are tonight’s stud picks for this matchup. Giannis is available for $11.3k with a projection of 57.2 points. Gordon is really a combo stud player and value addition with a salary of just $6.7k for a 32.2 point projection.
Wesley Matthews is also a very low salary and low-risk player, available for just $3.8k with a projection of 20.2 points.
Bet on Matchup
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