Although we might never find out who would win a matchup between T-Mac and Kevin Durant, we will know by the end of the day how successful we can consider the Magic’s two-game sojourn through Mexico.
Orlando had a tough time of it upon returning from their recent west coast swing, dropping 3 straight and 7 of 10 overall before getting back in the winner’s circle against the Bulls. The previously solid defense faltered, and offensively they were unable to get much going at all. For long stretches the team’s play resembled the stagnant performances of yesteryear. Both frustration and fatigue appeared to be problems.
The Magic will be hoping that the grinding out of a tough win in (kind of) neutral territory is the start of something. The good news is that there is a slightly easier schedule and some home cooking to look forward to. If the team is serious about a playoff push they’ll want to emerge out the other side closer to .500 before January brings another long road trip.
For Utah, 2018/19 has to this point been a major disappointment. Behind rising star Donovan Mitchell and the all-consuming defensive presence of Rudy Gobert, many tipped the Jazz to contend with the West’s best. Instead, their offense has struggled, their defense hasn’t been as dominant as last season, and they’ve languished near the bottom of the conference.
Still, there are reasons for the Magic to be cautious. The Western Conference is a bloodbath, with 14 seemingly legitimate teams duking it out on a nightly basis. Utah have this and the recent history of 4 straight wins over Orlando working in their favour. Also, despite their poor rank in the standings, the Jazz actually have a better record and net rating than the Magic. Make no mistake: the boys in pinstripes are coming into this one as the underdog.
What questions might be rattling around in the head of Magic fans? How about:
- Is there any chance that the offense looks slightly more competent tonight?
- How will our ‘Top of the Class’ game-winner go in his one-on-one matchup with the Stifle Tower?
- Can the Magic hold their own against Utah’s backcourt tandem of La Pistola and Spida?
- Could any two other teams provide a better collection of backcourt nicknames right now?
As always, be sure to join us in the game thread and dive into the discussion!