Wolves at Magic
6:00 pm CDT
The Wolves, winners of five straight games and current occupant of the third (!) spot in the Western Conference standings, head out on the road to face the bottom dwelling Orlando Magic this evening after sweeping their five game home stand. Recently, the Wolves have shown they are greedy for wins, and hopefully they will not look past the Magic at their next game in Houston against the high flying Rockets.
After a surprising 8-4 start to their season, the Magic have been in free fall, going only 4-27 since. They are also now missing their best player, center Nikola Vucevic, with a hand injury that has sidelined him since Christmas.
The Magic have been poor on both sides of the ball this season, and especially struggle to rebound on both ends, something the Wolves are well-equipped to take advantage of. They really should dominate on the offensive glass tonight with Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson.
Without Vucevic, the Magic’s main offensive weapons are Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Gordon is having something of a breakout year, having found a three-point stroke (37.4 percent on over five attempts per game) to go along with his superior athleticism at the power forward spot. He’ll be tough to handle for Gibson and the other Wolves’ bigs. Fournier is doing what he does: shoot it effectively from the perimeter. The problem for the Magic is that he in turn will have to guard either Andrew Wiggins or Jimmy Butler (likely Wiggins) and that’s not a match up he can thrive in. As an aside, it will be interesting to see if Fournier is still on the Magic past the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, the Wolves are riding high. They are on a five game winning streak and are separating themselves from the teams behind them in the Western Conference. They have struggled against Eastern Conference opponents, including their last two losses, on the road in Brooklyn and Boston. Tonight is an opportunity to grab a win on the road against an inferior opponent. Hopefully they won’t look past it.
The Wolves took care of the Magic 124-118 at home just before Thanksgiving. The Wolves had a huge lead in that one, but wound up losing the fourth quarter by 20 points to make it look (and feel,) a lot closer. Gordon put 26 on the Wolves, and the Magic also had Vucevic and Terrence Ross, both of whom will be out tonight. The Wolves had all five starters with at least 18 points, but got very little that night from the bench.
Our blogging buddies are over at Orlando Pinstriped Post. Be excellent.
Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.