Home back-to-backs are a rare thing in the NBA.
The Orlando Magic will have one — their first of three total this season — on Sunday night against the New York Knicks. Coming off a win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, the Magic have a chance to win both games and continue carrying the momentum they’ve been accumulating over the past two weeks.
Playing two games in as many nights at home doesn’t change too much, however.
Before Saturday night’s game agains the Lakers, coach Steve Clifford said that not traveling wouldn’t change how he would approach his rotations.
“For me, I mean obviously you’re always thinking long-term, but I’m a firm believer that, if the game starts to get away from you, I think the first night of a back-to-back you might pull guys quicker or something,” said Clifford. “To me, you try to win that first game, and then you worry about tomorrow tonight after the game and go more that way. I think I would be more apt to making a decision on guys playing less minutes, or a different rotation later tonight than I would right now.”
With the win last night, the Magic secured the first part of Clifford’s goal of winning the first game.
Now, less than 24 hours later, we’ll learn how prepared, and mentally tough the Magic are. Sunday night should be a game the Magic should win easily against a Knicks team they blew out a week ago, but coming off a big win against the Lakers, will they have the same energy and purpose of play as they did Saturday night?
The home back-to-back may be a rarity, but the Magic will look to capitalize as they wrap up their third of three this season on Sunday night.
Aaron Gordon’s ankle injury
Having rolled an ankle in the Magic’s win against the Washington Wizards on November 9th, Aaron Gordon missed only one game.
Now, over a week later, Gordon’s ankle is continuing to bother him. On Saturday night, the high-flyer was a game time decision, and initially thought he would miss the game early in the day.
“I didn’t think I was going to play when I woke up this morning,” said Gordon following the win. “The ankle was super swollen this morning, and I went through the day and the swelling went less and less and it went down a lot. I figured there was nothing wrong, it was just swelling. I figured I would just give it a shot.”
Gordon clearly wasn’t himself on the court, and the ankle injury clearly had something to do with it. Nonetheless, he finished the night with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists, and played some decent defense on LeBron James throughout the night.
Sunday night, Gordon will once again give it a go against the Knicks.
While it’s important to have Gordon out there to continue growing the continuity and building off their recent strong play, getting him healthy is equally as important. Gordon has been playing some of the best overall, complete basketball of his career, and is a key piece to the teams continued success.