The teams: Charlotte Hornets (14-9) at Orlando Magic (13-11)
The location: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)
The time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
The television broadcasts: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Florida
After a few days of rest following Saturday night's loss to the Boston Celtics, the Hornets take the court on the road to face the Magic. Orlando had a five-game win streak around the turn of December, but they've won only two of their last five games, against Denver and Brooklyn.
Despite that, the Magic have been playing pretty good basketball lately, as they currently occupy a playoff spot in a surprisingly resurgent Eastern Conference. At first glance, they might resemble some recent teams in Charlotte, playing at a slow pace, and not having a very potent offensive game, but defeating opponents on the strength of their defense, which ranks sixth in the league in efficiency.
Other than a pretty strong inside-out defense, the Magic don't have many areas where they truly stand out in one way or another. They attempt a lot of shots from inside the arc, but are last in the league in fouls drawn rate, which is a pretty interesting combination. The Magic don't yet have the chemistry (or talent, but it's probably an on-court issue) to drive to the basket very often, and the team's shots at the basket are normally taken by Aaron Gordon, who hasn't quite developed the ability to consistently create his own shot yet, or Elfrid Payton, who, shall we say, is not an outside scoring threat. Nikola Vucevic, their star big man, is actually shooting more often from long twos than at the rim this season, which would seem to bring down the team's efficiency.
Especially because of the long rest, the Hornets will have a very good chance to win this game against a divisional rival who is also looking for a playoff spot. It's a pretty good matchup for the Hornets, who will be able to exploit the shakiness of the Magic bench, and should have the opportunity to limit the Magic to a low-scoring game. As a team, the Magic get a lot of their scoring opportunities from offensive rebounds, and the Hornets are one of the best teams in the league in preventing second-chance points.
The Hornets have struggled on the road at various points this season, so that may bring down their expected performance a little bit, but the Magic are a team that will provide Charlotte with a lot of opportunities to take home the win.
Also, it's always fun to see former Indiana teammates (and Tom Crean's personal saviors) Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo play against each other. So you can keep an eye out for those two as well, especially if one team takes a big lead.