The Magic seemed to have an easy assignment in their last game. Didn’t quite work out that well.
And now they face a much bigger task with the Los Angeles Clippers coming to town with the league’s second best record at 14-5.
The Clippers have won 8 of their last 10 (Magic have dropped 8 of their last 10), defeating the Heat on Thursday without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who have both missed the last two games for health and safety protocols. Stepping up in their absence - the Clippers were also without Patrick Beverley due to knee soreness - were veterans Nicolas Batum, who had 18 points and shot 6-for-9 from deep, and Lou Williams, who added 17 points off the bench.
The star duo is expected to be back in the lineup when the Clippers face the Magic.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are out of health and safety protocols and available to play tonight vs Orlando according to source.— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) January 29, 2021
The Clippers enter with the league’s second best offensive rating at 115.6 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks. They are just outside the top 10 in defensive rating at 109.0 (11th), combining for the fourth best net rating in the league at 6.6.
Six rotation players shoot over 40% from deep for the Clippers, making them the most efficient outside shooting team in the league at 41.8%.
Paul George = 48.4% on 7.8 attempts per
Nicolas Batum = 46.1% on 4.7 attempts per
Marcus Morris = 43.5% on 4.6 attempts per
Luke Kennard = 42.3 % on 3.7 attempts per
Kawhi Leonard = 41.9% on 4.9 attempts per
Patrick Beverley = 41.4% on 4.4 attempts per
That’s a stark comparison to the Magic, who rank towards the bottom of the league in three-point shooting (though their recent surge pushed them up to 22nd at 34.9%) and have just one regular shooting above 40% from deep in Nikola Vucevic (44.4%).
Protecting the perimeter will be a focus for the Magic, who allow opponents to connect from deep at a 36.8% clip (17th in the NBA). Orlando, of late, have also allowed far too many points on fast breaks and in the paint, as the shorthanded Magic have slipped to 20th in defensive rating, allowing 110.7 points per 100 possessions.
Some familiar faces return as former Magic point guard Tyronn Lue returns to Orlando as head coach of the Clippers. Serge Ibaka is also in his first season with the Clips, providing a difficult matchup for Vucevic.
Who: Orlando Magic (8-11) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (14-5)
When: Friday at 8 p.m.
Where: Amway Center - Orlando, Florida
TV: Fox Sports Florida (with special guest analyst Jonathan Isaac!)