WHAT: These Nets, man. Here we go – gunning for those playoffs and taking on one beatable team at a time.
WHERE: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. EST
HOW: YES, FSFL; NBA League Pass
THE STORY: Game Preview
The Magic as a team shoot 44.8% from the field and also attempt the least amount of free throws per game in the league with 18.8 which puts them almost an entire attempt behind the 29th ranked Chicago Bulls who are literally trying to lose games. The most recent Nets-Magic game was close due to Orlando’s strong team performance, despite their only taking 14 free throws and only making 10 threes (both below their season averages) they received enough contributions from guys across the rotation to force the Nets to make some big shots to pull out the W.
One problem the Magic have had with their rebuild is player development; they just don’t seem to be very good at it yet. A team like the Nets, who can seemingly take a guy playing at the 92nd Street Y and put him into the rotation where he’ll be +4 and hit a big corner three, would have killed to have the draft picks the Magic have had over the last few years. Guys like Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba are really talented but they just seem to take longer to figure everything out in Orlando.
Things got so bad after the Nets came back and beat Orlando that on Saturday night, Nikola Vucevic, the Magic center, gave an impassioned speech to his teammates. It was basically, this is it. We need to win, need to make the playoffs.
For more on the Magic, check out: Orlando Pinstriped Post
But the Magic couldn’t slow Russell, who kept the Nets in the game in the first half, scoring 24 of his points in that frame. The Magic elected to match-up Fournier and may instead elect to position Jonathon Simmons on him should Gordon sit out again. Even Wes Iwundu possesses the physicality and most importantly length to disrupt Russell’s timing.
Gordon did a masterful job of chasing Joe Harris, minimizing him to but 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Fournier will likely slide to him, and will have to fight all night to keep the relentless sniper from getting his looks early and often. He presents more of a size similarity to D.J. Augustin, but the Magic could seek to hide Augustin on Graham, who doesn’t have near the scorching touch from deep (21.6%). Augustin’s lack of length on the perimeter should be less of a liability, and help defense from Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic should limit Graham’s ability to convert anywhere near the restricted area.
The Nets are 49-62 lifetime against the Magic, though they have won four of the past five.
The Nets are 13-11 at home this season, while the Magic are 8-14 on the road.