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Magic vs. Heat preview: Magic plod on with their depleted frontcourt sans Gordon, Isaac and Aminu

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A rash of injuries have swept through the Orlando Magic’s frontcourt this season and this week is no different. Can the subs step up in their absence?

NBA: Preseason-Miami Heat at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Things aren’t getting any easier for our Orlando Magic.

After losing Aaron Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu for an undetermined amount of time, the Magic suffered yet another scary blow with Jonathan Isaac Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Isaac avoided major injury, but his absence comes at a cost to the Magic, who will have to get crafty in replacing the trios minutes. Mo Bamba and Nikola Vucevic were a disaster when paired together in 2018-19. Khem Birch could be another project running next to one of them but would bog down spacing in an offense already devoid of any.

The Magic could look to spread out small-ball lineups with Wes Iwundu or Melvin Frazier spending time at the four alongside three of Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, DJ Augustin and Terrence Ross.

Or, the Magic could go with unproven youngster Amile Jefferson in spot minutes.

One thing head coach Steve Clifford has been adamant about: NBA players can’t succeed without regular, consistent minutes. That theory is about to be put to the test.

The Miami Heat

The Magic should have what may be considered an overrated advantage in a fatigued Miami Heat unit who played the Toronto Raptors Thursday night. However, Kevin Garnett recently expressed skepticism about that on Bill Simmons’ podcast, stating that he was always in better rhythm on the second night than the first.

So, the Magic may or may not have an advantage depending on which stance you take.

Either way, they’ll be facing one of the most impressive teams in the East (other than Milwaukee who has risen above everyone). Though they lost by a shocking 18 points to the Washington Wizards to end the year, they had previously won five straight before that.

The Heat are ninth in scoring (112.4 points per game) and 12th in limiting their opponents (108.2). While the defensive statistic is evident of a team 22nd in pace, the eighth overall offensive rating promotes a determinably effective half court offense.

They score the ninth-most points while taking the second-fewest shots in the NBA.

They are first in the NBA in scoring efficiency as well as second in three-point shooting and effective field goal percentage. They are fifth in assist per made field goal and are the very best in the NBA at getting to the free throw line (26.8).

One of the reasons they shoot so well? This guy...

Herro is already a double-digit scorer shooting above 38 percent from three as a rookie. He’s an above average rebounder and can facilitate a bit. He has indisputably stood out as one of the ten best rookies from this class.

Fellow rookie Kendrick Nunn has been just as impressive earning rookie of the month honors for the second consecutive month.

All-Star hopeful Bam Adebayo is the anchor that drives the defensive engine on this unit and he prevents things from being any easier on that end. He’s getting an eye-popping 15.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 Stocks (steals/blocks).

And of course, there’s Jimmy Butler, who leads the team with 20.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists.

Duncan Robinson has been excelling in Justise Winslow’s place, averaging double-digits in scoring while shooting 49/46/96 percent!!! Truly incredible numbers in a growing sample size. He’s fifth in the league in percentage but shoots twice the volume of anyone above him.

The Heat are also seventh in rebounding and third in opponent three-point percentage making them a frightening matchup. Their recent loss to the Wizards as well as fatigue could give the Magic a shot. Vegas has the line at just over a point.

But it will be a tall order.

Who: Orlando Magic (15-19) vs Miami Heat (24-9)

When: January 3rd, 7:00pm

Where: Amway Center - Orlando, FL

TV: Fox Sports Florida

Line: Heat -1.5

Injuries:

Orlando - Jonathan Isaac (out indefinitely), Al-Farouq Aminu (out indefinitely), Aaron Gordon (day-to-day, achilles), Michael Carter-Williams (day-to-day, shoulder);

Miami - Justice Winslow (out indefinitely, back), James Johnson (day-to-day, illness). Udonis Haslem (day-to-day, illness)