Team Records: Orlando (13-26) at Portland (28-8)
Game Info: 7 PM, TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -14
Refs: Scott Foster, Karl Lane, Leon Wood
The Skinny: The Blazers look to close out their long 7 game homestand with a 6-1 record as they welcome a struggling Orlando Magic team to town. Orlando has lost five straight going into Saturday’s matchup, including a blowout loss in LA Friday night. Orlando is only 3-15 against teams with winning records.
Last season: The two teams split the season series, with each winning at home. Portland has won four of the last five home games against Orlando.
Projected Magic Lineup:
PF: Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State-3rd Season) – 7.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.3 APG
SF: Tobias Harris (Tennessee-4th Season) – 18.1 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.9 APG.
C: Nikola Vucevic (USC-4th Season) – 18 PPG, 11 RPG, 2.2 APG
SG: Victor Oladipo (Indiana-2nd Season) – 14.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.9 APG
PG: Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette-Rookie) – 6.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.4 APG
Player to Watch: Nikola Vucevic (pictured at right) – Nikola is basically the last good thing to happen to the USC basketball program. A standout on a bad team in college, he has firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Included as a piece in the Dwight Howard trade, Nikola is a double-double machine with an improving inside game. He has a solid midrange jumper especially on the baseline. His defense is a bit behind his offense but its getting there. He may never be a star but he’ll be a solid center that a good team, whether Orlando or someone else, would love to have in its starting lineup.
Did You Know?: The all-time most points scored by any Orlando player against the Blazers was 41 by Shaq on March 2, 1996 as part of a lopsided 115-89 Magic win.
Song of the Day: “Magic Dance” by David Bowie. From the classic movie “Labyrinth” and now I will not hear you tell me this movie was anything but awesome. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder), C Robin Lopez (Hand)
Orlando: Out-PF Aaron Gordon (Foot), Questionable-SG Evan Fournier (Knee), PG Luke Ridnour (Ankle), SF Tobias Harris (Ankle)
A few years into a rebuild, you would have hoped for Orlando to be in a better place than this. Well they’re not. The team is pretty darn terrible, Oladipo has regressed, Payton is at best a few years away and their top pick Aaron Gordon is hurt. Orlando is 27th in offense and they are at best a crap shoot at that end of the court. They lack any reliable big scorer, can’t make 3s and aren’t even that good at the line. Their defense is batter, but not by much, ranking 20th in the NBA and they do a decent job of defending the three point line but inside the arc they are pretty terrible. What’s more, they seem to be getting worse. You’d hope that if you were a Magic fan that this team would give you some sign that they knew what they were doing. Well, they certainly aren’t at this point.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play their game. Even shorthanded, the Blazers are by far the better team. If they play their game, this game shouldn’t present much of a challenge.
Orlando wins if: They hold Portland under 90 points. Orlando needs to hope Portland has an off night to have a reasonable chance of winning this game. Even then, that may not be enough.