The Back Story (Clippers lead season series 1-0): The Clippers cruised to an easy win over the Magic with big nights from Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic led the way for the Magic.
|Magic 90, Clippers 114
The Big Picture: There is a decidedly different mood heading into this rematch. The last time the Clippers faced the Magic, it was the first game of seemingly daunting 7-game road trip. The Clips were playing well below expectations and there were murmurs of unrest beginning to spread throughout Clipper Nation. Fast-forward 9 games and the Clips have run off an 8-1 streak. While the Clippers still lack a real signature win, recent play has quelled much of the anxiety regarding the team's slow start.
The Antagonist: The Magic are what many expected they would be - not very good. They certainly have some nice pieces but it is clear they are still a season or two away from becoming contenders, even in the watered-down East. Vucevic has been a bright spot for the apparently tanking Orlando team, averaging 18.6 points and 11.7
points rebounds a game this season. He also has a history of big games against the Clippers. But he is currently day-to-day with back spasms, so we will see if he suits up tonight. Surely it would be beneficial for the Clippers if Vucevic didn't step on the court.
- Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers offense finally seems to be coming together, now ranking 3rd in the league. The defense has made strides as well but still rests in the middle of the pack. The Magic are mediocre to poor across the board, though both their pace and defensive rating are not that far behind the Clippers.
- Blaked or Fryed? Blake Griffin has been on a hot streak, one that has garnered him a Western Conference Player of the Week nod. Channing Frye has a history of giving Blake fits, Frye's length has always been a bother to Griffin's T-rex-esque arms. Griffin was able to get 20 points last game but on 8 for 18 shooting. He was also limited to 4 rebounds. Can Blake put together a more dominant performance this time around?
- Taking care of business: The Clippers have let some people down this season by not winning the games we hope to win. However, one nice thing about this season is the Clippers are actually winning the games they are supposed to win. The Clippers are 8-0 against sub-500 competition. This is a welcome change ofter seasons of dropping games to lesser opposition. Hopefully they stretch that to 9-0 tonight.
- Heartbreak in the bay: Last night the Magic lost on a 3-pointer by Steph Curry with only seconds left. This after leading much of the 4th quarter. How much will they have left, emotionally and physically, when facing the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back.
- Connections. The other half of the Clippers starting backcourt, shooting guard J.J. Redick, played his first six and a half seasons in the NBA in Orlando. Matt Barnes was a starting small forward for the Magic in one season of his well-traveled NBA career. Beloved Clipper pro Willie Green was claimed by the Magic and is getting playing time for them. Doc Rivers coached the Magic for four seasons (plus 11 games) at the start of his coaching career. Hedo Turkoglu had his best seasons with the Magic, playing a key role on the team that went to the NBA Finals. Glen Davis was in Orlando until he was bought out last season, allowing him to join the Clippers.
- Get the Orlando perspective at Orlando Pinstriped Post.
- Wikipedia: Magic (Pilot Song). Not to be confused with Magic (Olivia Newton-John song). "Magic" is a popular 1974 song by Scottish pop rock band Pilot, and was the first hit single for the group. It was written by William Lyall and Pilot's David Paton for their debut album, From the Album of the Same Name.