Orlando (5-2), who lead the Southeast Division, are trying to wrap up a three-game road trip with a pair of victories after clamping down on New Orleans in the fourth quarter of a 115-99 victory Monday night.
Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Simmons each scored 20 points as the Magic limited the Pelicans to six baskets and 15 points in the final 12 minutes. Orlando also scored 25 points off 19 New Orleans turnovers and made 16 3-pointers.
Memphis (5-2) are atop the Southwest but looking to bounce back from a 104-99 home loss to Charlotte on Monday night. Tyreke Evans had 19 points and ten rebounds off the bench, but Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both struggled from the field as the Grizzlies shot a season-worst 34.4 percent.
Gasol, who leads the team in scoring at 20.1 points per game, is just 5 for 23 from the field in the last two games after averaging 25.0 points in his first five games. Conley is averaging 17.3 points but struggling to find his 3-point stroke and enters this game making just 26.1 percent of his shots from beyond the arc after hitting 40.8 percent in 2016/17.
Three keys to the game
Supersub Simmons - Simmons had barely averaged over 6.0 points in his first two NBA seasons, but he has thrived coming off the bench in Orlando. He's scored in double figures in all six games and has averaged 21.3 points on 60.0 percent shooting in his last three. Simmons also does a good job filling the stat line as he's also averaging 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists on the season.
And supersub Evans - Memphis also have some scoring punch off the bench in Evans, who at 13.7 points per game, is the only other Grizzlies player in double figures besides Gasol and Conley. Evans is more of a volume shooter than Simmons, but right now Memphis need him to keep shooting, and his 41.4 percent from long distance is well above his career mark of 29.9 percent.
Frontcourt firepower - The Magic lead the league in 3-point shooting percentage (44.1) through games played Monday, and the most surprising source is their frontcourt starters. Fournier, Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are a combined 46 of 90 from long range, with Gordon hitting at a staggering 59.3 percent clip (13 for 22) after failing to crack 30 percent in his first two seasons.
Matchup to watch
Nikola Vucevic vs Marc Gasol - Gasol made it trendy last season for 7-foot centers to set up beyond the arc to let fly as he made 104 3-pointers after making just 12 in his previous eight seasons. Vucevic showed flashes of promise from long range in 2016/17 when he made 23 of 75. This season, he's already drilled 13 of 32 as Orlando are averaging 12.7 3-pointers after making 8.5 per game in 2016/17. Whichever of these two big men can get going first could wind up leading the way to a victory.
Orlando Magic projected starting lineup
PG - D.J. Augustin | SG - Terrence Ross | C - Nikola Vucevic | SF - Evan Fournier | PF - Aaron Gordon
Memphis Grizzlies projected starting lineup
PG - Mike Conley | SG - Andrew Harrison | C - Marc Gasol | SF - James Ennis III | PF - Jerrell Martin
Fournier has enjoyed recent success against Memphis, averaging 22.0 points on 57.5 percent shooting and 4.0 assists while making 10 of 22 from 3-point range in the last three games between the teams. Vucevic has five double-doubles in his last seven games versus the Grizzlies and missed by one rebound in the other two to make it 7 for 7, and he's averaging 17.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in that span.
Evans could be in play for Memphis as he's averaged 16.6 points, 7.2 assists and 6.4 rebounds in his last five games against Orlando. Another stat that stands out is his 7.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games.
Memphis are 11-3 against the spread in their last 14 games versus Orlando, and the home team has also covered in the last four meetings between the teams. Given how both teams are averaging a combined 22 3-pointers per game, the over/under established at 206 feels a little low, but the Grizzlies have gone over the number just once in their seven games. The better play here may be taking the Magic as five-point underdogs.
Orlando's inside-out attack in the frontcourt is going to prove an interesting challenge for Memphis. Gasol and Vucevic likely will cancel each other out, and the X-factor likely will be Gordon. If he's hitting from the outside, the Magic then have four consistent scores to the Grizzlies' trio of Gasol, Conley and Evans. More important for Orlando is that Simmons has been on a tear of late and doesn't need the ball as much as Evans to do damage. Either way, this will wind up being a close game, and the Magic should have just enough to come away with a 105-101 win.
This game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Tennessee and Fox Sports Florida. Tip-off time is 8 pm ET.
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