The Detroit Pistons aided the Magic at the end of their nine game losing streak back in December, and the Magic hope the favor is given once more.
The Orlando Magic could use some good news. At 18-43, the Magic lead the race to the bottom by half a game, and find themselves amidst yet another long losing streak.
Having lost seven straight, Orlando welcomes the Detroit Pistons to town. However, this is a very different Pistons team than the one the Magic beat to climb back into the win column before the turn of the calendar year. With Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier back in the fold, the Magic managed a 102-89 victory, however they were also paced by the new Sun, Elfrid Payton, with 19 points. So too were the Pistons led by new Clipper, Tobias Harris, with 21 points.
So who are the Pistons now?
They are Blake Griffin’s squad. One of the richest men in the NBA, the Clippers rewarded Griffin’s commitment to the team after he accepted their five-year, $176 million deal by shipping him to Detroit less than six months later.
And in his brief stint, Griffin has made minimal affect on either side of the floor. While his numbers are steady at 19, seven and five, the Pistons are 6-6 in his time and have transitioned from 21st and 12th in offensive and defensive rating, to 21st and 13th.
But the Pistons are becoming every bit as desperate as the Magic to climb back into the win column. Having lost three of four, and six of eight themselves, they currently find themselves out of the playoffs, in the ninth position at 29-32.
And if Wednesday’s shellacking against the Bucks 110-87 is any indicator, the Magic may have their hands full.
The Pistons managed to hold Giannis to 11 points, while only needing 27 and 25 minutes from Andre Drummond and Griffin, respectively.
Drummond and Griffin should dictate pace in this match-up, as the Pistons trudge their way through contests as a bottom 10 pace team, and top 10 defensive rating. Expect this one to keep right around or just below 100 points for each squad.
The Orlando Magic are 45-60 in franchise history versus the Pistons and 1-1 this season.
The big story for Magic fans in this one will be the return of the sixth overall pick, Jonathan Isaac.
Isaac has been held out since reaggravating his ankle injury on December 26th after having first sprained it on November 11th. Originally slated to return in Wednesday’s contest with the Raptors, a late decision was held to withhold him.
"He’s not going to play tonight," coach Frank Vogel said before Wednesday’s game. "They’re going to hold him out one more game and see how he feels tomorrow. Just doing what the medical team asks me. They would prefer he has another day. It’s not about a setback or soreness. They just asked for another day."
Vogel and the fans must have been frustrated by this decision as the Magic have nothing to do this year but development their young talent.
On being asked what Isaac expects from himself:
"Just play," Isaac said of what he expects hitting the floor again. "Just get out there and do what I do. Play hard and honestly just see what happens. I think I’m going to surprise myself if I just go out there and play basketball."
Isaac has come back a bit rusty as expected on the offensive end going just 2 of 6 and 3 of 8 in his two appearances with the Lakeland Magic, but Vogel expects him to make his presence known on the defensive end of the floor:
"I want to see what he can do on the defensive end," Vogel said. "We know what his instincts bring to the table. He’s got to make sure he is following all his assignments out there and understanding personnel and player tendencies.
The Magic have offered Rashad Vaughn another ten day contract. Expect him to get some minutes tonight in an effort to earn a longer look.
If the Magic are trying to accelerate their chances to lose, don’t tell NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has made it clear the ramifications of such an act could prove disastrous for any organization that provides evidence of such activity.
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