Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Orlando Magic (7)
The Orlando Magic ended their regular season on quite a tear, winning 10 of their last 12 games and have built up momentum entering their first-round playoff series. But as a surprise for winning late in the season and ending their postseason drought, they get a reward of having to match up against Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are an incredibly well-balanced team on both sides of the floor. Their defense can be downright pesky and against a team like the Magic, who have been known to struggle on offense and have one of the league’s worst clutch offense ratings, look for defense to play a big role in this series.
The Raptors and Magic won two games apiece in their regular season series. Toronto won the last game of the series on April 1, 121-109. The Raptors had six players score in double figures, but it was Danny Green who really put the exclamation point on the win with 29 points as he knocked down seven three-pointers. Evan Fournier countered with 21 points for the Magic, but it was not enough for the win.
Series TV Schedule
Game 1: Sat, April 13 Orlando at Toronto. 5 ET, ESPN
Game 2: Tue, April 16 Orlando at Toronto, 8 ET, TNT
Game 3: Fri, April 19 Toronto at Orlando, 7 ET, ESPN
Game 4: Sun, April 21 Toronto at Orlando, 7 ET, TNT
Games 5-7 TBD if necessary
Toronto Raptors Starting Lineup
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
Key Player Matchups
PG: Kyle Lowry vs. DJ Augustin
Slight edge Toronto. There’s no doubting Lowry is clearly the more talented player, but head-to-head matchups are rarely decided just on talent level. Lowry can score and rack up major assists, but he’s had problems falling off in the playoffs before, so he’ll have to prove he can be consistent game-to-game. Augustin is a very underrated point guard and he makes the Magic go.
SG – Danny Green vs. Evan Fournier
Edge Even. Green has had a great first season in Toronto. He’s capable of going off from deep and he’s one of the reasons that Toronto is able to get so much done on defense. Fournier can put the ball in the basket, but he’ll have to do so on a consistent basis to give the Magic a chance in this series.
SF – Kawhi Leonard vs. Jonathan Isaac
Edge Raptors. Playoff Kawhi is SPECIAL. The last time we saw Leonard in the playoffs, he and the Spurs were up big on the Golden State Warriors before that fateful undercut by Zaza Pachulia. Leonard will be hungry to perform in the playoffs again. While Isaac will get some reps on Leonard, Clifford will likely opt to defend him more with Aaron Gordon.
PF – Pascal Siakam vs. Aaron Gordon
Edge Even. Again, we are more than likely going to see Siakam against Isaac here, and this is an intriguing matchup, but I would favor Siakam over Isaac and it gets a lot closer when it’s against Gordon. Look for Siakam to make a case for Most Improved Player.
C – Marc Gasol vs. Nikola Vucevic
Edge Magic. Gasol is no slouch, but I’ve gotta go with Vooch here. He ended the season on a hot streak, will be Orlando’s leading scorer and he can control the boards. Look for the Raptors to throw faster, more athletic bigs like Ibaka and Siaka on him if he gets hot.
Coach: Nick Nurse vs. Steve Clifford
Edge Even. Considering the seasons they have had, it’s hard to go with either coach here. Nurse has done a good job in his first season and has managed Leonard’s minutes well without giving up a bunch of games. Clifford getting the Magic in the playoffs is a feat in itself.
Bench: Edge Raptors. The Raptors can go much deeper on their bench with Fred VanVleet, Normal Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Jeremy Lin. The Magic have Terrence Ross, who can get got quick, but the rest of their bench is a bit lacking.
Fred VanVleet – If Lowry struggles at all as he has in past playoff series, VanVleet has been “Johnny on the Spot” ready to jump in. Nurse knows he has a reliable option on his bench if he needs him, and if Van Vleet can become a regular scoring contributor, it’s going to be a quick series. They’ll also look to Danny Green to play a big role, not just on defense, but also to knock down some threes when they need some offensive punch. You can also count him for at least a few chasedown blocks in this series.
Aaron Gordon – Gordon and Clifford talked about him getting recognized as one of the top defensive players as one of their preseason goals, and now he will easily have one of the most unenviable tasks in having to guard Kawhi Leonard. If Gordon can use his length and quickness to bother Leonard, the Raptors become beatable as his win-shares skyrocket when he plays well.
Raptors in 5. While the Magic enter the postseason on a hot streak, Toronto has far too much talent and playoff Kawhi is a special Kawhi that the Magic will not have answers for.
For more predictions on this and every series, visit our 2019 NBA Playoff Prediction Roundup.
Odds & Line Movement Links: Vegas Odds (All NBA Games Today)