Gameday: Raptors @ Magic, March 20

The Raptors are coming off an emotional loss at home against the Thunder (and the refs?) and at this point it’s only fair to feel sorry for the team that has to play them next. That honour belongs to the Orlando Magic who have already been eliminated from playoff contention with a 21-49 record.

Despite higher-hopes for a Magic team that attempted to improve its roster, the results have been anything but. Orlando is in the bottom half in both Offensive Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency this season and continue to trot out an increasingly injured roster. Fans of ex-Rap Terrence Ross won’t get a chance to see the high-flier as he’s likely out for the rest of the year with a bone bruise. Joining him on the bench is Jonathon Simmons and Evan Fournier, leaving a depleted roster to take on a Toronto team that is determined to lock up the number one seed in the East.

If there’s a silver-lining for the Magic it could be the return of Aaron Gordon. The forward passed the concussion protocol test after a five game absence and is expected to suit up against the Raptors at home. Gordon has been one of the few bright spots for Orlando this season (when healthy) with averages of 18.3 points, 8.4 rebounds 2.3 assists and just under a steal and block a game. To be fair this doesn’t change much for Toronto’s game plan. It seems pretty simple: Grab a win against a sub .500 team like they’ve done all season and prepare for Cleveland the next day.

Luckily for the Raptors almost everyone on the team is healthy. Fred VanVleet is currently being listed as day-to-day with a hand bruise and with a big matchup looming against the Cavs on Wednesday it’s highly plausible we see Casey give him the night off again in Orlando. With that being said, it was incredibly clear how much Toronto has started to depend on the undrafted point guard as a “closer” in the fourth quarter in their loss to Oklahoma City. VanVleet is already a calming and mature presence on the court and with tempers flaring late in the game his level-headedness was sorely missed.

Look, at the end of the day the Magic are 3-7 in their last ten and in a race to the bottom of the cellar to give themselves a shot at a number one draft pick. That isn’t to suggest they aren’t going to try, but the Raptors should be able to get off to a hot start on the road against a bad defensive team, then give their starters some rest before the battle in Ohio. Giddy up.

Tip-off: 7 p.m.




PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: DeMar DeRozan

SF: OG Anunoby

PF: Serge Ibaka

C: Jonas Valanciunas

PG: D.J. Augustin

SG: Arron Afflalo

SF: Mario Hezonja

PF: Aaron Gordon

C: Nikola Vucevic


Toronto comes in as 10 point favourites and after their disappointing loss at home. I expect them to come out with a point to prove, even if it is against the Magic. Toronto clinches the season series (they still play once more) in a 119-103 victory. Bring on Cleveland.

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