The Orlando Magic have a bit more in common with the Miami Heat than humidity, and a thrashing at the hands of the Pelicans this week.
Both rosters have been bit by the injury bug. Devoured is a better way to put it at this point.
While the Magic received even more devastating news with Nikola Vucevic’s broken hand in last week’s loss to the Wizards, the Heat equally have been without Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, and Justise Winslow for significant amounts of time.
Against the Pelicans, the Heat’s bench consisted of Wayne Ellington, Jordan Mickey and Udonis Haslem.
Heat listing Hassan Whiteside as questionable for tomorrow vs. Orlando. Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Dion Waiters all listed as out.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) December 26, 2017
The Heat, however, are now expected to have Whiteside back against the Magic on Tuesday after he missed 14 games with a bone bruise in his knee.
And while many fans may have written off the Magic, and who could blame them having lost 19 of 22 and eight straight, hope does glimmer in the distance:
The Magic have listed Evan Fournier (ankle), Aaron Gordon (calf) and Jonathan Isaac (ankle) as questionable for tomorrow night's game in Miami. Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic are out because of their injuries.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) December 25, 2017
Having Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac back in the lineup is exactly what the struggling Magic need. While the season is not so suddenly slipping away, the time is now to begin building chemistry and propping up the foundation for a still very young and talented franchise.
The Magic will also heavily rely on improving point guard Elfrid Payton. After an impressive stat line against the Wizards, the Magic will rely on him more than ever in Vucevic’s absence. Likewise, Vogel will have to hope Jonathon Simmons energy can carry the depleted roster through what promises to be a grueling two months.
- On defense, limit three point shot. Heat are fourth in the NBA, and Ellington is red hot
- On offense, find shooting touch. The Magic have been particularly horrendous this month from the field, and the Heat are just the team to get that touch back as they allow 38% from deep.
- Don’t give up. It’s not the time to hang heads here. Help is on the way in Fournier, Gordon and Isaac. Play 48 minutes, and come out hungry early against a team under the same disadvantages.
Magic: Elfrid Payton, Wes Iwundu, Jonathon Simmons, Mario Hezonja, Bismack Biyombo
Heat: Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside
WHERE TO WATCH:
American Airlines Arena
Fox Sports Florida (TV)
ESPN Orlando 580 AM (Radio)