Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The Los Angeles Clippers (31-16) had won five straight games heading into last night’s matchup against Milwaukee. Tonight, the Clippers will face the Orlando Magic (15-31) in the second game of a back-to-back. The Magic played the Lakers in the STAPLES Center Sunday night, losing 96-93.
In that 96-93 loss, the Magic showed their new pieces as Otto Porter, Jr., Wendell Carter, and RJ Hampton all made their debuts after the Magic moved their top three scorers in a bevy of midseason trades. Orlando held a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Lakers, who were missing LeBron James and Anthony Davis, ripped off a decisive 12-1 run to secure the win. Dwayne Bacon led the Magic with 26 points, while Chuma Okeke added 14 points. Michael Carter-Williams went down with a knee contusion in the game.
Prior to last night’s game, the Clippers took down the Eastern Conference’s top team Philadelphia 122-112. Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, while Terrance Mann added a season-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Paul George added 24 points for the Clippers, who led by as much as 19 in the final quarter.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams. Back on January 29, the Clippers won handily 116-90. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, both of whom were coming off a five game absence due to health and safety protocols, combined to score 50 points. Orlando, who was a totally different team then, was led by Terrence Ross with 24 points off the bench.
The Magic will be without Terrence Ross (knee), Cole Anthony (rib), and Garry Harris (thigh), and Michael Carter-Williams is questionable with his injury from Sunday’s game. Los Angeles will be without Patrick Beverly (knee), Serge Ibaka (back), and Rajon Rondo (groin).
Magic Looking for Chemistry With New Players
The Orlando Magic committed to a full rebuild, parting ways with leading scorers Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon in deals that netted several draft assets along with Otto Porter, Jr., Wendell Carter, Jr., RJ Hampton, and Garry Harris. Porter, Carter, and Hampton made their Magic debuts against the Lakers and combined to score 23 points off the bench. Look for increased production in this game as the Magic had a day to get the trio more accustomed to the system.
Meanwhile, the absence of Terrence Ross, Cole Anthony, and Michael Carter-Williams means the Magic will rely on the trio of newcomers, plus Dwayne Bacon (10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and Chuma Okeke (14 points against Lakers) to shoulder the scoring load.
As a team, the Magic have an effective field goal percentage of 49.8%, 30th in the league. Orlando is sixth in the league in turnover percentage (11.9%), 19th in offensive rebounding percentage (21.8%) and 28th in free throws per field goal attempts (.169). Defensively, the Magic are 20th in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (54.4%), 23rd in opponent turnover percentage (11.5%), second in defensive rebound percentage (80.2%), and fifth in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.165).
Clippers Go For Season Sweep Against Orlando
The Clippers are on the back end of a back-to-back and will go for the season sweep of Orlando a night after playing Milwaukee (this article does not include those stats). Going into Monday night, the Clippers had won five in a row, including a victory over the East’s top team in Philadelphia. Tonight, the Clippers get a little schedule relief, but there are many unknowns about the new-look Magic.
For Los Angeles, what has been known is consistent play by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. George (23.5 ppg/6.3 rpg/5.5 apg/42.6% 3pt) and Leonard (26.0 ppg/6.3 rpg/4.8 apg/39.5% 3pt) lead the way offensively as one of the best scoring duos in the NBA. A host of role players like Nicholas Batum and Marcus Morris (12.3 ppg, 46.2% 3pt) stand ready to make defenses pay when they over-rotate to cover Leonard or George.
.@terance_mann, jelly fam 🍇
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 30, 2021
Offensively, the Clippers are solid, ranking in the upper half of the league in the four factors (effective field goal percent, turnover percent, offensive rebound percent, FTs per field goal attempts). The Clippers are second in effective field goal percentage (56.6%) and 13th in free throws per field goal attempts (.193). The Clippers are 13th in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (53.7%) and ninth in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.182).
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Clippers should win this one, as they are the much better team. But, two things could make this a closer game. First, the Clippers had a tough matchup against the Bucks last night. Secondly, the Magic are a totally different team, which means there isn’t much of a scouting profile on them. I’m good with the Clippers up to eight points, but if the spread is larger than that, will pick the Magic to cover.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
The problem in this game is the Orlando offense, which is largely dependent on the integration of their new pieces. There’s a good chance the Magic could hit some dry spells in this game, which is not good for an already poor offense. The Clippers could use their bench more in this one because of the matchup and last night’s tough game, which could also suppress scoring. So, without knowing the line, I’m taking the UNDER.