Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: ORL -3
The Orlando Magic snapped a four-game losing streak against the Brooklyn Nets last night (Friday), and it will try to gain some further momentum against the Washington Wizards.
That might be tough, though, as the Magic have lost 12 straight against Washington and enter the game as 3-point favorites against the Wizards.
The Magic are 12-7 at the Amway Center this season will host the Wizards who possess an 8-11 record on the road this season. Washington is negative 3.3 points in differential this season, though, while the Magic are plus 0.5 points.
The Magic will look to get a bigger game from center Nikola Vucevic who is shooting just 42.6 percent from the floor against Washington in the Magic’s three losses this year to the Wizards. Vucevic has posted 14.3 points and nine rebounds per game while squaring off against Wizards center Marcin Gortat, one of the league’s best individual defenders of the pick and roll.
Vucevic is the key to Orlando’s attack, and he is averaging 18.7 points and nine rebounds per game in Magic wins this year, but is good for just 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in losses. Over his past five games, Vucevic is averaging 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor.
The Magic have missed point guard Elfrid Payton from the lineup and have been going with Victor Oladipo in his place. Oladipo is averaging 16.8 points, 3.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds over his last five games while shooting 5 percent from the floor. He knocked down 6 of 8 from three-point range in the 83-77 win over the Nets last night, and he had nine boards and three steals in the game, as well, playing the best game of any Magic player in the victory.
Over his last 10 games, Oladipo has averaged 12 points, 3.8 assists and four rebounds while shooting 41.5 percent from the floor. For all that Oladipo struggles with his shot, he is shooting 32 percent from three this year and it is a mark that could continue to rise as he looks as though he is finally hitting stride this season.
Oladipo and Evan Fournier will be challenged by the Wizards’ high scoring backcourt of Bradley Beal and John Wall. Beal is averaging a team-high 19.8 points per game this season and Wall trails him with 19.6 as well as a team-high 9.6 assists per game. Gortat ranks No. 3 in scoring at 13.4 points per game but also comes up with 2.00 steals/blocks per game while posting the second-highest PER of any Wizard at 17.4.
The Wizards have been pleased with the improvement of Otto Porter, Jr., who will assuredly draw the defensive assignment of Tobias Harris. Porter is averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.55 steals per game this season and has blossomed since being selected as a lottery pick out of Georgetown.
Harris is averaging 13.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Magic, but the swingman from Tennessee is Orlando’s best isolation scorer and will challenge Porter on the wings.
The Magic have better depth than Washington and could make this game its own in the second quarter when Andrew Nicholson and Aaron Gordon take the floor. Nicholson and Gordon each average seven points per game for the Magic and Gordon is posting a PER of 17.0. Head coach Scott Skiles varies his rotation plenty, but the Magic will look to its bench a lot with the team having just played less than 24 hours ago.
The Magic have the depth to end this 12-game skid against the Washington Wizards, but John Wall and company seem to have Orlando’s number. This should be a competitive game between two teams that will be gesturing for a playoff berth as this season winds down.