The Orlando Magic (15-24) are getting further and further away from a playoff spot. They only have one win in the last six games and if they continue with these performances they will be out of contention for the postseason. They lost against the Lakers at the Staples Center 111-95 in a game where they managed to score just nine points in the third quarter. Serge Ibaka had a double-double grabbing 10 rebounds and Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic also added 10 boards a piece. Bismack Biyombo also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards, while Aaron Gordon had just two points without making at least one field goal and missing all five shots. He, Jodie Meeks, DJ Augustin and Elfried Payton combined for six field goals from 27 attempts.
After four straight wins, we can say without any hesitation that the Los Angeles Clippers (26-14) are back in the saddle. They defeated injury-riddled Miami Heat 98-86 in a game where they didn't put a lot of effort in. They were leading by 24 points in the last period, but eventually allowed for the visitors to cut that deficit in half. In this game, the Clippers had almost twice as many assists than the Heat, 27 compared to 14 for Miami, but LA's team had a poor 3-point shooting performance, hitting just nine shots from behind the arc, out of 30 attempts. JJ Redick replaced Austin Rivers who missed this game because of an illness, and dropped 25 points on the Heat defense, adding seven rebounds to that. Chris Paul had a crazy night with assists, dishing 18 times to his teammates, and finish the game with 19 points and six rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had the same number of rebounds as Paul assists, 18 but only managed to score seven points. Marreese Speights was excellent off the bench with 19 points in just 14 minutes on the court. He shot 6-8 from the field. Raymond Felton had a solid game with seven points, five assists and seven rebounds.
Keys to the Game
- Domination in the air, since they have the stronger frontcourt and they have enough players to stop DeAndre Jordan who is among the top rebounders in the NBA.
- As we said their backcourt had an awful shooting night against the Lakers and they have to improve that in order to win in this match.
Los Angeles Clippers
- Tight defense in the paint and around the perimeter, because Vucevic and Ibaka have been the Magic's first offensive options in the past few games.
- Chris Paul has to dictate the pace of the game as he has no worthy opponent among the Orlando team and he should exploit that.
Orlando Magic Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Elfried Payton / SG –Evan Fournier / SF – Aaron Gordon / PF – Serge Ibaka / C – Bismack Biyombo
Serge Ibaka will have a favorable matchup against Luc Mbah a Moute, and Orlando needs to play on the Spanish International as much as they can on the offensive part of the court.
Los Angeles Clippers projected starting lineup
PG – Chris Paul / SG – Austin Rivers / SF – JJ Redick / PF – Luc Mbah a Moute / C – DeAndre Jordan.
Chris Paul is a much better player than Elfried Payton and the Clippers point guard will know how to use this matchup to his advantage. Austin Rivers is supposed to be back in this game and if not Jamal Crawford will take his place.
I think that the Clippers are an absolute favorite in this match. Orlando is showing signs of crisis and they cannot handle the Clippers at their usual performances. I think that the adjustment of Blake Griffi's return from injury is finally gone and that the Clippers have fully adjusted to playing under these circumstances.
Tip-off is at 10:30pm ET - Staples Center - Los Angeles, CA