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Clippers vs. Magic Preview: The Clips hope to get back in the win column

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After starting their road trip with two losses, the Clippers have a good chance to right the ship against Orlando.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information:

Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL

When: 4:00 p.m. PST

How to watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups:

LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat

Orlando Magic: D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic

Injuries:

Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute (left knee) - doubtful

Magic: None

The Big Picture:

The Clippers have had a difficult start to their road trip, losing to two consecutive playoff teams, albeit in varying fashion. LA was seemingly in control against OKC Tuesday before falling off in the second half, while the team fought back to take the lead and remain competitive late against Philadelphia Thursday. The second-half comeback showed the Clippers still have some fight in them after 48 minutes (over two games) of being relatively beat down.

The Antagonist:

The Orlando Magic represent a reprieve from the schedule gods, even though the Clippers are on the second night of their first back-to-back of the season. The Magic are 2-5 this season, their two wins coming by a combined total of six points. Orlando has somewhat eschewed the league-wide trend towards small ball. They still start two traditional bigs in Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic alongside Aaron Gordon, who could easily function as a big on another team.

The Magic have a league-average defense, buoyed by the overwhelming length of their front line, particularly when rookie Mo Bamba comes into the game. However, their offense is among the worst in the NBA, as it has been for a few seasons. The spacing that has come to define the highest-scoring teams in the league doesn’t really exist in Orlando. Vucevic is still an efficient scorer in the post, but no one else on the Magic has been a substantial threat on offense.

What to watch for:

  • Will the Clippers be tired from yesterday’s game against Philadelphia? This is the first back-to-back of the year, and the Magic have been waiting in Orlando since Tuesday. Four starters played above 30 minutes against the 76ers; it will be interesting to see if Doc Rivers is tempted to dig deeper into his bench if the Clippers look listless during the game.
  • Marcin Gortat had perhaps his worst outing of the season against Philadelphia. He only played nine minutes and was overwhelmed by the physicality and skill of Joel Embiid, ceding the majority of his time to Boban Marjanovic. Gortat has been underwhelming throughout the season, but the matchup against Vucevic plays to his strengths. Vucevic is certainly a skilled post player, but he lacks the strength or range of Embiid, which should allow Gortat to defend him capably. Furthermore, Vucevic is a notoriously bad defender, giving Gortat the opportunity to flex his offensive muscle.
  • Tobias Harris gets to face off against one of the teams that traded him, and will likely be defended by the player Orlando attempted to replace him with — Aaron Gordon. Harris has had a phenomenal start to the regular season. He doesn’t need any extra motivation to continue his scoring tear, but practically every NBA player loves a revenge game.
  • The Magic may have the weakest point guard rotation in the entire league, which makes Patrick Beverley’s defense a little superfluous. This would be a good time for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to reassert himself and inject some juice into the Clipper offense.