Raps Head To Orlando For Two-Game Set:
On the heels of an easy win over the shorthanded Lakers, the Raptors head down to Florida for a back-to-back against a hapless Magic team with the worst record in the NBA at 6-20.
The Raps, of course, just saw the Magic last weekend, pulling out an easy win on the back of OG Anunoby’s 32-point outburst and a 26-point, 10-rebound performance for Pascal Siakam. That game finished with a final score of 121-108, but the 13-point margin belies how one-sided it really was.
Toronto did have some trouble containing Bol Bol inside the paint and also let old friend Terrence Ross shake loose for 18 points on a perfect night from the field, but they limited Rookie of the Year frontrunner Paolo Banchero to just 9 points and built up a comfortable 21-point lead by the end of the third quarter.
When combined with the glorified scrimmage against the Lakers on Wednesday night, these two upcoming games against the Magic should provide an excellent opportunity for Toronto to work on putting together a competent half-court offense, and more specifically for Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes to break out of their recent slumps and suss out their ideal roles in Toronto’s attack. Notably, we saw some extra emphasis on Scottie posting up under the basket and playing more of a big man role in some of the transitional lineups versus the Lakers, and the team could experiment a bit more with that over this mini-series as they try to optimize his unique skillset.
Statistically, the Magic don’t do much of anything well, ranking 27th in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. They do tend to slightly edge out opponents in free throws and rebounds, but not by nearly enough to make up for allowing opponents to score at will, particularly inside the arc. The bottom line here is that the Raptors should be able to beat the Magic outright even without winning the possession battle – and if they can dominate possessions as they usually do, then this should be a walk in the park.
One point of note is that the Magic allow a lot of threes but actually contest them fairly well (34.2%), which is particularly intriguing for a Raptors team that’s been embroiled in a shooting slump up and down the roster. The Raptors can afford to approach this game (and really, this two-game set) as a litmus test for how a half-court offense built around Siakam can help some of the better shooters on the roster – in particular, VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., and Anunoby – get back into rhythm.
Defensively, the biggest concern will be once again containing Banchero, who is averaging 21.8 points and 6.7 rebounds on the season. Orlando’s other big threat is sophomore Franz Wagner, who has averaged 19.1 points on the year. The fact that their two best players are 20 and 21, respectively, really says all you need to know about a Magic team that was the fourth-youngest in the NBA heading into the season.
The Magic may have some more upside than some of the other teams in their tier once players like Gary Harris, Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs, and even potentially Jonathan Isaac return from injury, but for now they’ve been forced to deploy a crew of middling young guards (Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz) and big men (Bol, Mo Bamba, Moe Wagner) who shouldn’t provide much of a threat provided the Raptors come into the series with the right approach.
Toronto Raptors Results, Lineups & Injuries
@ Pelicans L 126-108
@ Nets L 114-105
vs Magic W 121-108
vs Celtics L 116-110
vs Lakers W 126-113
PF: P. Siakam, C. Boucher
SF: O. Anunoby, T. Young
C: C. Koloko, K. Birch
PG: F. VanVleet, D. Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: S. Barnes, G. Trent Jr.
Precious Achiuwa PF – Out
Otto Porter Jr. SF – Out
Juancho Hernangomez PF – Out
Orlando Magic Results, Lineups & Injuries
vs Hawks L 125-108
@ Cavs L 107-96
@ Raptors L 121-108
vs Bucks L 109-102
vs Clippers W 116-111 (OT)
PF: P. Banchero, C. Houstan
SF: M. Wagner, A. Schofield
C: B. Bol, M. Bamba
PG: M. Fultz, C. Anthony, R. Hampton
SG: F. Wagner, T. Ross, K. Harris
Gary Harris SG – Out
Chuma Okeke PF – Out
Jalen Suggs PG – Out
Jonathan Isaac PF – Out
Wendell Carter Jr. C – Out