When: 7:00 pm EDT
Where: Amway Center; Orlando, FL
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Orlando Magic started the season 1-7 but have played pretty good basketball as of late. The Magic are 3-2 over their last five games and, as crazy as this sounds, their victories came against good teams in the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns.
The schedule is doing everything possible to give Orlando a victory tonight. The Magic have played their last five games at home and they last played on Friday night, so they’re well rested.
The Hornets, meanwhile, are on the third game of their Florida road trip after two grueling games against the Miami Heat. Thanks, NBA.
Orlando Magic overview
If you didn’t see Paolo Banchero’s freshman season at Duke last year, the kid’s a stud. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft is crushing it so far with averages of 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Banchero has been day-to-day with a left ankle sprain and is expected to be a game-time decision tonight.
Joining Banchero in the starting lineup are point guard Jalen Suggs (13.0 PPG, 4.9 APG) who’s shooting just 28% from the 3-point line. Shooting guard Franz Wagner averages 15.1 points but is shooting just 23% from deep. Power forward Bol Bol (11.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.9 BPG) is a good interior defender while center William Carter Jr. is having a great season with 16.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.
Orlando’s bench is really thin outside of wing Terrence Ross (10.2 PPG, 42% 3PT). Guards Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz both currently injured. Big men reserves Chuma Okeke and Mo Bamba don’t instill much fear into the hearts of their opponents.
How the Hornets can win
Defensively, the key for the Hornets is limiting Paolo Banchero. Orlando doesn’t have any real offensive creators - no Magic player is averaging at least five assists per game - so their offense can grind to a halt at times. If Banchero can be contained, the Hornets should like their chances with other Magic players having to look to create their own offense.
Offensively, the Hornets are just a completely different team with LaMelo Ball running point. The ball just flows so much better and transition plays materialize in the blink of an eye. Orlando ranks just 20th in Defensive Rating so this would be a great time for the Hornets to rediscover their offense with Ball at the controls.