[Thanks to ::squints:: ‘Curtain Jerker’ for today’s game preview.
Magic will be very thin at PG today. Both Elfrid Payton and having-a-solid-year backup DJ Augustin are out tonight, leaving only Shelvin Mack. -yfbb]
Let's get the important stuff out of the way first:
Oh, the Bulls are probably gonna lose. But hey, that's ok! Good even!
A quick perusal of the advanced stats on NBA.com tells us that Orlando is fast (3rd in Pace), can score (2nd in Offensive Rating) and even play good defense (7th in Defensive Rating).
Meanwhile, the Bulls are the trifecta of slow (28th in Pace), ineffective on offense (30th in OR, and yes, that would be dead last) and thoroughly mediocre on defense (21st in DR)
So yeah, that's swell.
Now, I've watched a lot more Magic hoops than any sane man should. I am in a NBA Wins Pool with some coworkers and we each drafted three teams - mine were Toronto, Denver and Orlando. So I'm loving life so far, but there's a lot of season to go, and I'm reasonably certain that Aaron Gordon isn't gonna shoot 57% from deep all year.
Orlando isn't an Eastern Conference Finals contender, unless everyone on the team keeps hitting threes at an historic clip while continuing to play good defense. But there's no reason that in this dumpster fire of a conference Orlando can't snag one of the bottom three playoff spots and give a scare to a (non-Cleveland) first round opponent. Can easily see them being a tough out vs say a Milwaukee or Washington or Boston, someone of that ilk.
Which, given how brutal this team has been since Dwight Howard was rocking the pinstripes would be a welcome sight to Magic fans - and people like me who gamble on the Magic, and other NBA degenerates like anyone reading this preview.
But this is a fun team to watch, at least right now. Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic are all creative offensive players. Gordon especially seems to have tapped into his considerable potential - just in time for that contract extension! They run which suits them. Imagine that, coaching to a team's strengths! The Bulls...well, they aren't fun, except for our special boy Lauri Markkanen. He's fun. The rest of this group is not very fun at all.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Here's hoping Markkanen drops 30 and the Bulls lose by 15. Would be for the best for all parties really.