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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Orlando Magic Preview

The Blazers play host to last place Orlando.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (21-33) vs Orlando Magic (12-43)

How quickly things can change. When the Portland Trail Blazers visited Orlando just three weeks ago, they had just won three of the previous four games and thoughts of making a patented late season run seemed at least somewhat reasonable. Today, the Blazers are looking at the teams behind them and wondering just where in the lottery they might end up.

The Orlando Magic have shown a small flicker of life lately having won four out of their last eight games, including wins over the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks. When the Blazers played the Magic last month, Portland won by a score of 98-88. That game seems a very long time ago indeed.

Tuesday, February 7- 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Cody Zeller (out), Nassir Little (out), Keon Johnson (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Trendon Watford (probable)
Magic injuries: Jonathan Isaac (out), R. J. Hampton (out), Michael Carter-Williams (out), E’Twaun Moore (out), Markelle Fultz (out)
SBN Affiliate: Orlando Pinstriped Post

What To Watch For

  • No real standout scorer. How many Orlando players average over 20 points? Zero! How many average in double figures? Seven! Both figures are pretty remarkable. For comparison, the Blazers have (had) two players who have averaged over 20 (Lillard and McCollum) and five who (had) averaged double figures (Dame, CJ, Powell, Simons and Nurkic). Odds are pretty good that someone for the Magic will score over 20 against the Blazers, I just couldn’t tell you who it will be.
  • Anfernee Simons. For most of Simons’ torrid January he was drilling his shots from deep at an impressive rate. He’s fallen off a bit lately, but he’s still been reasonably effective overall, scoring 19 points in each of the last three games. While Orlando isn’t the worst defensive team in the NBA, they are solidly below average in nearly every statistical category. This seems like it could be the type of game where Simons might find his touch from deep again and really make the scoreboard light up.
  • Height might be an issue. The Blazers have no seven footers, and two players over 6’8”, one of whom (Zeller) is injured. The Magic have seven players over 6’8” on their roster, five of whom are likely to play. That discrepancy might be hard to overcome.

What Others Are Saying

25% of Orlando’s wins have come since January 28th. Spencer R. Henderson of Orlando Magic Daily explains how they’ve gotten those wins.

The Magic have won games by sharing the basketball and making sure that almost everyone gets good looks throughout the game. They have managed to become a team that will have five or more players finishing with double-digit points in their recent wins, and that can be a recipe for more wins in the future.

Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel says the Magic are likely to be sellers at the deadline.

Orlando ($28.1 million) is one of three teams, along with the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, that’s projected to have cap space this summer ahead of the 2022-23 season. The Magic are expected to operate as a seller at the deadline — a team looking to acquire assets (young players on inexpensive deals, draft picks) ahead of the deadline.

Wendell Cart Jr. is fitting in just fine after his time in Chicago according to Garrett Townsend of Orlando Pinstriped Post.

It’s taken less than twelve months for Wendell Carter Jr. to cement himself as a pillar of consistency for the Magic. After his stint in Chicago largely fizzled out, the big man found himself tossed into the Vucevic trade, an opportunity he quickly parlayed into a four-year, $50 million contract (fully guaranteed). And while it initially may have been a number that inspired some hesitation – particularly for a side who already had hefty money committed to some pieces battling just to get on the court – it has fast revealed itself to be a relative bargain. $12.5 million annually for a starting caliber big with some positional versatility? Sounds great!