From Harden to Luka to Giannis.
Things certainly don’t get any easier for a shorthanded Magic team that just dropped two games in Texas. They now return home to face the team that defeated them in the playoffs last season: the Milwaukee Bucks.
The shorthanded Magic again will be without Evan Fournier, who will miss his sixth straight game because of back spasms. Going an extended stretch without your starting two guard, who is typically one of Magic’s few dependable outside shooters, simply is not good for a team that currently sits tied with the Pelicans for dead last in three-point shooting percentage at 32.2%.
They face a Bucks team that is at the opposite end of the spectrum, shooting 40.1% from deep, good for fifth best in the league. The Magic have struggled to defend the perimeter of late, allowing the Mavs to knock down 20 of 40 three-point attempts and the Rockets to make 22 of 47 attempts. Allowing the opposition to hit a combined 42 threes over two games, while the Magic counter with a whopping grand total of 14 (14-for-60, 23.3%), leaves no chance of success, particularly when your starting point guard isn’t around to help create in other ways.
On the season, the Magic have allowed opponents to hit 36.4% of their 33.8 three-point attempts per game (11th best in the league). The Magic will need strong rotations and closeouts against a Bucks team with an abundance of deep threats like Khris Middleton (50.9% on 5.7 attempts per), Donte DiVincenzo (47.1% on 5.1 attempts), Pat Connaughton (52.2% on 3.3 attempts), Jrue Holiday (40.0% on 4.5 attempts), and so on.
And let’s not even get into the problems created inside the arc by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks, after starting 2-3, have won four of their last five, beating the Cavs on Saturday without Giannis, who missed the game with back spasms (listed as probably for Monday’s game).
One positive is that Nikola Vucevic had his way with the Bucks in the postseason, averaging 28 points per on 50.5% shooting, including 40.9% from deep. Vooch’s long range stroke has carried into this season, shooting a career- best 42.1 percent on a career-high 5.7 attempts per game. Without that jump in efficiency, the Magic might be struggling to hit the 30% mark from deep as a team.
Another positive: the Magic will debut their new and improved orange city edition jerseys for the first time....
Tonight we get to see these threads on the court pic.twitter.com/56aQYCLgbN— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) January 11, 2021
The orange court looks the same as last season, which seems like a missed opportunity.
And hopefully the few thousand fans in attendance give a warm welcome back to D.J. Augustin!
Who: Orlando Magic (6-4) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (6-4)
When: Monday at 7 p.m.
Where: Amway Center - Orlando, Florida
TV: Fox Sports Florida