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Magic at Bulls preview: Orlando welcomes Vucevic back, must take care of business on the road

Down two starters, the struggling Bulls host the Magic at the United Center

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Jorge N ez-USA TODAY Sports

To be successful in the NBA, you have to possess a short memory. The Magic visit the Chicago Bulls tonight looking to quickly erase the memory of their 39-point home defeat last Wednesday at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.

Orlando is entering a rather manageable point in their ‘18-’19 schedule, with their previous west coast and Mexico City trips in the rear-view mirror. The Magic are making a quick stop Friday in the Windy City before heading back to Orlando for a four-game home-stand.

While the schedule may appear favorable for the Magic, I can guarantee that Coach Steve Clifford's team won’t be overlooking anyone, not after their embarrassing performance against the Spurs.

“With our team, we’re crazy if we look past anybody,” Clifford told reporters Wednesday.

“And if we look past anybody, then we don’t understand who we are nor what we have to do. There will be no game this year where we’re just going to line up and win unless we play well. None,” he added. “And yet I also want to say that we can beat any team. We can beat any team.”

The Magic and the Bulls squared-off in Mexico City just over one week ago (Magic won, 97-91). However, a lot has changed for Chicago since their meeting south of the border.

The Bulls will be playing without Zach LaVine for the next two-to-four weeks due to an ankle sprain. LaVine, Chicago’s leading scorer (23.8 points per game), dropped 23 points on the Magic last week. Bobby Portis, who’s been starting for Chicago at the power forward position, will miss the next two-to-four weeks with an ankle injury as well.

Chicago has lost eight of their last ten games and currently owns the worst-record in the NBA at 7-25.

The Bulls will be without two starters while the Magic welcome one back Friday. Nikola Vucevic, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, missed Wednesday’s game against the Spurs to be with his family. Vucevic and his wife Nikoleta welcomed their first child to the world earlier this week (Filip Vucevic).

Orlando will be playing without Jonathon Simmons against the Bulls. Simmons aggravated his ankle during the two-game Mexico City trip, and re-injured it Wednesday against the Spurs.

Maybe a thrashing at the hands of the Spurs is exactly what the Magic needed. All they can do now is work to regain their focus, their team concepts (especially on the defensive end), and their formula for sustainable success.


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