Magic-Bulls Preview

Orlando Magic Status Check:
Record: 29-17
Division: 7-5
Conference: 23-11
Home Record: 16-7
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 91-81 loss to Miami
PPG: 94.3 (21st)
Opponents PPG: 92.0 (4th)
Offensive Rating: 104.5 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 102.0 (11th)
Pace: 89.4 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .508 (4th)
Turnover Percentage: .149 (25th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .753 (4th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .261 (20th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .202 (18th)
Opp. eFG%: .473 (9th)
Opp. TO%: .124 (28th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .186 (4th)
Leading scorer: Dwight Howard (21.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Orlando Injury Report:
Von Wafer: did not play yesterday against Miami (strained lower back)

After going 4-2 on their home-stand, the Bulls head to Orlando to start a two game road trip. One of the Bulls losses during their last home stand was to the Magic, but the Bulls can get their revenge on national TV tonight.

For the second straight game, Chicago will play a team that is coming off a game against the Miami Heat the night before (The Heat won both of these games, over Philly and Orlando). So Chicago is getting Miami’s table scraps at this point.

The Magic fell to the second place Heat last night, shooting under 40 percent, while also committing 18 turnovers. Dwight Howard scored 18 points and grabbed eleven rebounds, but didn’t record a block and had four turnovers.

Dwyane Wade scored 31 points overall, and 14 in the fourth quarter to help Miami beat their in-state rivals.

Howard played 41 minutes, Jameer Nelson played 34 and Jason Richardson logged 32. The tired legs will benefit Chicago tonight.

The Bulls topped the Sixers on Saturday night, as both teams were playing on the tail-end of back-to-backs. Without Derrick Rose, C.J. Watson stepped up and scored 20 points. Joakim Noah recorded another double-double (13 points, eleven rebounds) thanks to his solid free throw shooting (7-10).

The Bulls were dominated in the paint though, getting outscored 40-22. They were also outscored 19-5 in fast break points.

As usual the Bulls won the game on the offensive glass, bringing down 17 offensive rebounds, to the Sixers’ nine. They will need this effort again if they want to beat the Magic. It is going to be a tough battle on the boards, as Orlando is fourth in defensive rebounding percentage (.753).

The Magic won by five the last time these two teams met, to even the season series at one game apiece, and snap the Bulls eight game winning streak. Tonight will be the final time these two teams meet this regular season. As of today, Chicago is the first seed in the East and Orlando is the third, meaning these teams would meet in the Eastern Conference Finals (if both got that far). But there are a lot of games left, and things are bound to change.

And there could a big change for this match-up. And that change’s name is “Derrick Rose.” Rose nearly had a triple double (21 points, ten assists and eight rebounds) in the first game, but didn’t shoot particularly well (38.9 percent). He shot even worse in the second game, going just 6-22 (27.2 percent), but he still scored 17 points and added nine assists.

Rose is shooting 61.3 percent at the rim this year, but has gone just 46 percent from that area against the Magic. It may not matter much, as Rose could miss his fourth straight game due to a strained groin (he’s listed as doubtful). The Bulls are 9-4 without Rose this season, and 2-1 during this stretch (beating Miami and Philly, while inexplicably losing to Portland). Rose may not return until this Saturday, when Toronto visits the United Center.

Howard has been his usual dominating self against the Bulls, averaging 28.5 points and 16.5 rebounds. His counterpart, Joakim Noah, is averaging 6.5 points on 31.2 percent shooting. Jo is averaging ten boards a game, including four offensive. But it’s pretty clear why nearly every team in the NBA wanted Howard when he was “available.”

The Magic are 16-7 at home, holding opponents to 91.7 points in the Amway Center. Their last home loss came on March 1st against Oklahoma City.

Orlando is just 8-8 on the second night of back-to-backs though. They score 91.8 points per game when they come in with no rest.

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