The Orlando Magic are visiting the Rose Garden tonight, led by their mascot, Stuff. This is the game that the nation will be eagerly gathering around to watch (and the first time you’ve heard that joke tonight! Right?). Let’s have a gander at what this matchup has to offer.
Orlando: DeQuan Jones, Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson
Portland: Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, JJ Hickson, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard
The Blazers have actually been outscored by an average of .7 points on their last ten games in spite of the 7-3 record they posted over that span. Orlando, having lost ten straight, is posting a margin of -4.9 on their last ten. And the Blazers, in spite of having a notably soft strength of schedule, have actually played a slightly stiffer slate per Hollinger’s Power Rankings.
The Magic have an expected W-L of 13-20 right now, a game better than their 12-21. The Blazers’ 18-15 substantially outpaces their expected W-L of 14-19.
On the floor:
The Magic, though not an offensive juggernaut by any means, will test Portland’s perimeter defense. Damian Lillard has had widely chronicled struggles on the defensive end of the floor, so Jameer Nelson’s recent stretch of torrid play may continue tonight.
In the frontcourt, the Blazers have a decided advantage against DeQuan Jones and Andrew Nicholson. The pair have 11 starts between them and will be tasked with slowing Nic Batum’s versatility and LaMarcus Aldridge’s steady scoring. Orlando center Nik Vucevic has been averaging seventy gabillion rebounds a game over his last 3 (actually 19.33) and I predict that he and J.J. Hickson will break out into a knife fight as both are tied at 9 rebounds.
“Growing Blazers show maturity; take care of business against struggling Magic”
“Blazers still maturing; lose focus against struggling Magic”
“Scrappy Magic teach growing Blazers a lesson in focus”
“Focused Stuff leads Tralfamadorian revolution past growing Blazers”