For the first time since March 2, the Orlando Magic will play a basketball game on their home court.
The Magic may have been the default home team during their first round series against the Bucks at the NBA bubble in Disney World, but that setting hardly provides Amway Center’s comforts of home.
“It’s been a long time and we wish our fans could be there,” Clifford said. “But hopefully if we play the way I feel that we’re capable of, maybe later in the year we’ll get more people in there.”
The Magic return to Orlando to close out the preseason with two games against the Charlotte Hornets. Steve Clifford will continue to ramp up the Magic’s minutes as we inch closer to the Magic’s regular season opener on Dec. 23 against Miami. Clifford soon should have Terrence Ross back in the lineup after he missed the first two preseason games due to a toe fracture.
James Ennis, Clifford said, is not quite as close to returning as he recovers from a calf injury.
The Magic will get their first look at LaMelo Ball, the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. Ball is one of the key additions Michael Jordan’s squad made in the offseason, representing another Eastern Conference team that made significant personnel moves in hopes of leapfrogging the Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Ball came off the bench in his preseason debut and missed all five of his shots in a scoreless outing, but did have 10 rebounds and four assists in 16 minutes. He followed that up with a 12-point performance, but again struggled with his shot, going 3-for-10 from the field.
The Hornets also made a big splash in free agency, signing Gordon Hayward for like a billion dollars after three injury plagued seasons in Boston. Hayward averaged 12.5 points in his first two preseason games while shooting over 50% from the field. But the 30-year-old suffered a fractured finger on his shooting hand during the Hornets loss on Monday and his return is based on pain tolerance and comfort level.
So not a great start for the injury prone vet who is looking to help a young team that went 23-42 last season compete for a playoff spot.
Who: Orlando Magic (1-1) vs. Charlotte Hornets (0-2)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Where: Amway Center - Orlando, Florida
TV: Fox Sports Florida