Pregame: What to Watch For, Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans
The Orlando Magic are entering the second night of a back to back. Orlando suffered their second loss of the season to a scrappy Charlotte Hornets team. Can they bounce back?
The Orlando Magic will face off against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight in the second game of their three-game road trip. Orlando has gotten some national spotlight and will need this win to keep that momentum going. This road trip will be a bit of a measuring stick for the Magic to evaluate where they are as a team. After getting blowout wins over two perennial powerhouses, the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, these three games will prove if that was all a fluke. The Magic played a tough game versus Charlotte but could not slow down Kemba Walker. Tonight, Orlando will be tested in the frontcourt by Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins. They have to respond in this game to validate the previous blowout wins.
In last nights loss, the Orlando Magic got manhandled on the glass. The Hornets outhustled the Magic picking up 59 rebounds to Orlando’s 40. Those rebounds often led to points. The Magic must do a better job of ending possessions if they want to win tonight.
The New Orleans Pelicans feature two of the leagues premier big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Davis and Cousins tend to have great games when facing the Magic. So far this season Cousins is averaging 32.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. Davis is averaging 25.4 points and 13 rebounds per game. Keeping these two under control will be quite a task for the Orlando Magic.
Look for the Magic to possibly go with a quicker lineup to coral Davis and Cousins. Rookie Jonathan Isaac will play an important role covering Davis with his length and athleticism. Khem Birch also has the agility to add a little more size than Isaac to possibly matchup with Cousins. The traditional bigs on the Magic roster(Vucevic and Biyombo) are just a tad bit slower than the Pelican duo and that might cause a problem on the defensive end. They are also a little bigger than Aaron Gordon and could cause him to get into foul trouble. Birch and Isaac should see plenty of game time tonight.
Points in the Paint
The New Orleans Pelicans are ranked second in the league in points in the paint with 52.3 points per game. To add on to that stat, the Pelicans score 47.6 % of their points in the painted area. New Orleans will look to get the ball near the rim to say the least. The Orlando Magic have allowed the most points in the paint in the league at 53.3 points per game. Look for the Pelicans to go to the paint early and often. How will Orlando adjust to cover up their biggest weakness against New Orleans biggest strength?