LeBron one day, the Warriors the next.
The challenges continue to come for Orlando on what is a grueling West Coast trip. But for this year’s version of the Magic seems more adept at handling the challenges that come their way.
After suffering a lopsided loss to the Nuggets in the opener of their five-game Western swing on Friday, the Magic rebounded with an impressive 108-104 win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. It was the first time the Magic defeated the Lakers on their home court since 2012 and, having defeated the Lakers twice in about a week’s time, the Magic swept the season series with the Lakers for just the second time in the franchise’s 30-year history.
Now onto the next challenge: the defending NBA champions…on their home court…in the second game of a back-to-back.
The good news for the Magic, who are back at .500 at 10-10, is that they catch the Warriors at a time when, instead of being almost impossibly challenging, they are “only” very challenging. That’s because they will be without Stephen Curry, who will miss one final game with a groin injury before returning for the Warriors’ five-game road trip. Another member of their star quartet, Draymond Green, has missed the last five games with a bruised toe, but is listed as day-to-day and could be back in action against the Magic.
Even if Green is unable to play, that of course still leaves Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for the Magic, namely Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, to contend with.
The Warriors - though they are “just” 14-7, which for them would be considered disappointing - enter with the second best offensive rating at 114.1 points per 100 possessions and the second highest effective field goal percentage at 56.0 percent. They have won two straight after suffering their first four-game losing streak since Steve Kerr took over as head coach.
In the Steve Kerr era, the Magic are winless against the Warriors and have dropped their last 10 games overall to Golden State. Their last victory came six years ago when the Magic had six players finish in double figures, led by J.J. Redick with 16 points in December of 2012.
But the Magic ended one streak that began in 2012 on Sunday, so why not another?