Washington Wizards (12-24, 5-14 Away) vs. Orlando Magic (17-20, 12-8 Home)
Date: January 8, 2020
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Tip-Off: 7:00pm EST
Line: Magic -9.5
Season Series: Magic lead 3-0
The Magic currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot in the East with a 17-20 record. Orlando has been playing solid basketball as of late, going 3-1 in their last 4 games.
The Magic will play Washington for the final time this season as they try to go for the series sweep, 4-0. They will also look to add to their home win total, which currently stands at 12.
Statistically, Orlando has struggled in most areas except for rebounding and defense. The Magic average 44.8 rebounds per game, which is ranked 18th in the NBA. Their offense, however, has been very poor. They rank dead last in the league with just 103.2 points per game.
While getting everyone involved seems to be somewhat of a key focus, Orlando is only 22nd in the league in assists, with 22.8 assists per game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Magic have been stalwarts. They only allow 103.8 points per game, which is 2nd best in the NBA.
Evan Fournier has been a “Wizards killer” throughout his career, and he continues to be a focal point in Orlando’s offense this year. The 6-foot-7 Frenchman leads the team in scoring with 18.8 points per game. Additionally, he is chipping in 3.2 assists per game and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Fournier’s shooting efficiency has been lights out this season. From the field, the Orlando guard is making shots at a 47.1-percent clip. He is also great from long-range, making 40.7-percent of his threes.
The Wizards have felt the effects of Fournier’s career-high year in their meetings so far. When facing Washington, he is averaging an impressive 24.7 points per game to go along with 53.3-percent shooting from the field and 59.1-percent from three.
The Wizards are coming off yet another impressive win against the Boston Celtics on Monday night, 99-94. They also beat Denver, another top-tier team, just a couple of days before 128-114. Washington’s record now stands at 12-24.
While this season is a learning period with numerous inexperienced players on the roster, this team has nevertheless contended night in and night out. After a long home-stand of 6 games, the Wizards are back on the road in Orlando tonight.
Washington’s offense still continues to rank among the league’s best, as they average 115.6 points per game. That ranks 5th in the league. They are also top ten in assists with 25.8 assists per game, good for 8th in the NBA.
The two main areas Washington has struggled in this season have been defense and rebounding. In regards to the latter, the Wizards average 42.3 rebounds per game which is second to last in the league. Their defense is also worst in the league, with 120.1 points allowed per game.
Ish Smith has been on an absolute tear as of late. His string of quality performances continued against Boston, scoring 27 points. Smith also chipped in 4 assists and 4 rebounds. His accuracy remains steadfast, as he torched the nets with 66.7-percent shooting.
For the season, Smith is averaging a solid 11.4 points per game, 4.3 assists per game and shooting 37.1-percent from three. In his last 10 games, Smith has kicked it up a notch with 16.9 points per game, in addition to a blazing hot 41.2-percent from three.
Jordan McRae will be matched up with Evan Fournier in tonight’s game. The former Tennessee Vol will have his hands full defending against the Frenchman’s lethal shooting.
Against Orlando, McRae is averaging 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Fournier has the advantage over his counter-part in most categories except rebounding and turnovers. McRae’s rebounding skills could come in handy by initiating fast-break opportunities and going at Fournier when he isn’t fully prepared.
Lastly, McRae’s defense might also be an asset, as Fournier has a higher turnover rate against Washington than Jordan does against Orlando. A couple of quick steals could throw Fournier off his game.
Michael Carter-Williams (OUT), Jonathan Isaac (OUT)
Bradley Beal (Questionable), Garrison Matthews (Day-To-Day), Rui Hachimura (OUT), Moe Wagner (OUT), Thomas Bryant (OUT), Davis Bertans (OUT), C.J. Miles (OUT), John Wall (OUT)
This is definitely a winnable game for Washington. We have seen how well they have fared against top-ranked opponents. Now, it is time to see if they can play with the same level of intensity against a team more in their weight-class.
I think the Wizards will continue their hot streak and keep the momentum going. Look for Washington to control the pace from the get-go. Washington will lead much of the game, by a slim margin, and then close it out in the 4th for their 6th win on the road this season.