Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic Preview
Wizards 34-42 vs Magic 32-44
When: Friday, March 31st, at 7:00p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
TV: NBC Sports Washington, Bally Sports Florida
Radio: WYGM 96.9FM/ 740 AM, THE Team 980
Wizards: Brad Beal (Out, Knee), Daniel Gafford (Questionable, Foot), Kyle Kuzma (Out, Ankle)
Magic: Jonathan Isaac (Out, Hamstring), Kevon Harris (Out, Elbow)
Keep an eye on:
Wizards Youth Movement: has been sight to see as the season winds down. They're showing incredible promise and creating a lot of optimism for the future. Deni Avdija has taken strides over the few games and is a big reason why the Wizards are still fighting for a play-in spot when most thought that chase was over once Kyle Kuzma and Brad Beal went down. Over the Wizards last three games, Avdija is averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, on 56.5 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent from deep. Add in his always quality defense and you have a player starting to come into his own consistently instead of showing flashes throughout the season. Without a doubt the Wizards are better for it.
Corey Kispert has been solid all season, however, his three point shooting over the last three games has been nothing short of special. Kispert is averaging 20 points on a blistering 53 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He's making teams pay for going to trap Porzingis, on dig downs or losing him when he's coming off screens. With the Wizards fighting for their postseason lives (currently two games behind 10th seed Chicago for the final play-in spot), Kispert's long range shooting efficiency will be needed and then some.
Another bright spot is the growth of rookie guard Johnny Davis who has been very impactful on both ends lately. Its clear that the game has slowed down and he's a lot more confident and aware of the flow of the game. Davis is averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds in just over 22 minutes of action. He's competing and starting to show the toughness and skill that made him the 10th overall pick in last years NBA Draft.
Magic Balanced Attack: is special when they're on their game. The backcourt of Markelle Fultz and Garry Harris provides an athletic, skilled, savvy, versatile guard tandem that very few teams can match-up with. Both can score from three levels, create for others, rebound and defend. Both also can switch between being an off guard and primary ball handler during stretches of the game which causes match-up issues with opponents. Then when you have the fearless Cole Anthony coming in as a reserve, you see why the Magic has given teams fits all season.
However, the threat doesn't end there. The Magic front court is the strength of this team. You have soon to be Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero leading the team in scoring with 19.9 per game. Wendell Carter Jr (15.6 points, 8.8 rebounds) is a double-double machine, Franz Wagner (18.8 points, 4.1 rebounds) is a versatile efficient scoring forward that few teams can match-up with, his brother Moe Wagner (10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds) is more of a traditional big that does the dirty work and you have Bol Bol (9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) waiting in the wings who is basically a 7'2 wing.
The Magic are a match-up nightmare, they play hard and have talent....they just have to learn how to win. Lately, they've been making strides in that department..which is scary for the league.
Free Throws: is what Orlando relies on to make up for their subpar 3-point shooting. The Magic rank 6th in the NBA in free throw makes per game (19.8), 8th in free throw attempts per game (25.1) and 14th in free throw percentage (78.8%). They have TEN players on their roster shooting 76 percent or better from the line. Washington has to be excellent at defending without fouling or it can ugly in a hurry. Don't believe me? See no further than the Wizards 122-112 loss to Orlando back on March 21st. Orlando shot 24-25 from the charity stripe and cruised to victory. If Washington doesn’t keep the Magic off the line, it's highly likely the same result will occur.