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ORLANDO MAGIC AT THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS – PLAYOFF GAME 2

The Milwaukee Bucks take on the Orlando Magic tonight in game 2 of the 2020 NBA Playoffs first round. The Magic hold a 1-0 lead in the a best of 7 games series, a result that shocked the NBA world. It’s game day Magic fans!

This game has a UK tip time of 11pm. As always the matchup will be broadcast live and on demand via the NBA League Pass. Unfortunately this game has not been selected for broadcast here in the UK by Sky Sports. If you are planning on watching live expect to be up until around 1:30am if the game does not go to overtime.

Orlando Magic UK have an in depth preview of the series which is available to view here: https://letstalkmagic.com/blog/the-2020-nba-playoffs/

GAME 1

The entire basketball world knows what happened, the Magic stunned the Milwaukee Bucks with a brilliant 122-110 victory.

That win came from energy, discipline and determination on the defensive end. Choking off Giannis Antetokounmpo at every opportunity saw him often forced to give the ball up. The rest of the Bucks squad were equally met with a defensive aggression and focus fans have not seen from Orlando in many months. This in part led to 16 Bucks turnovers, from which Orlando scored 25 points.

Shooting 49% from the field, including 39% from the 3 and 94% from the free throw line saw the Magic take the lead with under 4 minutes played, keeping it the rest of the way.

Those two important season stats were met again, lead at the end of the 1st quarter and going into the 4th then Orlando get the win!

A GAME OF RESILIANCE AND HIGHS

Each time the Bucks threw their offence at us the Magic rallied, took the punch and came again. Nikola Vucevic scored a playoff career high 35 points and had 14 rebounds. Terence Ross hit 18 points, Gary Clark 15 and James Ennis 11.

DJ Augustin had 11 points with 11 assists as he pulled the strings for the second unit to boss the Milwaukee bench. Someone who’s contribution does not show up in the stats is Wes Iwundu, playing with tenacity and constant energy.

Markelle Fultz got his first career taste of playoff basketball. He hit 15 points and got 6 assists. Kelle looked good, built for this stage.

The 4th quarter got nervous for Magic fans as Milwaukee cut the lead to 6. The response was emphatic as Orlando answered with two scores from Ross (including a highlight dunk), Vooch and DJ taking the lead back out to 14. Evan Fournier had been without a field goal until the last 5 minutes of the 4th but the impact of his trio of 3’s late was to finish Milwaukee’s challenge.

Giannis scored 31 points and had 17 rebounds. I didn’t notice at the time but in the final 11 minutes of the game the Magic defence of him was such that he did not score a field goal!

MAGIC INJURY REPORT

The Orlando Magic have 3 long term absences: Jonathan Isaac (11.9 PPG) (torn ACL) and Al-Farouq Aminu (4.3 PPG) (torn meniscusand Mo Bamba (5.4 PPG) (comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation).

Aaron Gordon (14.4 PPG) (hamstring) is listed as unlikely to play but is pending further evaluation.

Michael Carter-Williams (7.2 PPG) is listed as out.

ORLANDO MAGIC STARTERS

The Magic’s depth chart excluding the long term injuries looks like this:

Point Guard: Markelle Fultz, DJ Augustin, Michael Carter-Williams
Shooting Guard: Evan Fournier, Terence Ross, Melvin Frazier Jr
Small Forward: James Ennis III, Wes Iwundu, Vic Law, BJ Johnson
Power Forward: Aaron Gordon, Gary Clark
Centre: Nikola Vucevic, Khem Birch

There remains flexibility with players like Iwundu and Clark able to play in either the SF or PF position.

With the injury update available at this time the Orlando starting line up of choice for Coach Clifford is likely to be unchanged. That would be Markelle Fultz (12.1 PPG), Evan Fournier (18.5 PPG), James Ennis III (6.6 PPG) & Nikola Vucevic (19.6 PPG), being joined by either Gary Clark (3.7 PPG) again.

From the bench would come a combination of DJ Augustin (10.5 PPG), Terence Ross (14.7 PPG) Khem Birch (4.4 PPG) and Wes Iwundu (5.8 PPG).

Further reserves being BJ Johnson (3 PPG), Vic Law (1.9 PPG) & Melvin Frazier Jr (2.1 PPG) are also available to choose from. 

OUR OPPONENTS – THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS

The Milwaukee Bucks came into the series as the top seed in the East with a 56-17 record, the best combined season record in the NBA. In the bubble the Bucks went 3-5.

They are an offensive juggernaut both in the paint and from the 3. Defensively they pack the paint and dare teams to shoot the 3. Stat wise Milwaukee are a top team in every category.

THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS SQUAD

The Buck’s depth chart looks like this:

Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVicenzo, George Hill
Shooting Guard: Wesley Matthews, Pat Connaughton, Kyle Korver
Small Forward: Khris Middleton, Sterling Brown, Thannis Antetokounmpo
Power Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams, DJ Wilson
Centre: Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez

Coached by Mike Budenholzer and an assistant team that includes Chad Forcier (assistant coach at Orlando 2016-18) the Bucks are a well run team. Budenholzer is the reigning Coach of the Year and is in the conversation for the award again.

In Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks have the current NBA MVP. He is a dominant force for them scoring 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds & 5.6 assists per game. Supported and surrounded by good players in a likely 10 or 11 man rotation that features Khris Middleton (20.9 PPG), Eric Bledsoe (14.9 PPG), Brook Lopez (12 PPG) and Wesley Matthews (7.4 PPG) as the starting lineup of choice. From the bench comes George Hill (9.4 PPG), Pat Connaughton (5.4 PPG), Kyle Korver (6.7 PPG), Robin Lopez (5.4 PPG), Ersan Ilysova (6.6 PPG) and Donte DiVincenzo (9.2 PPG).

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MAGIC HISTORY WITH THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS

The teams met 4 times in the regular season with the Milwaukee Bucks winning them all.

On November 1st in the first game played the Bucks won 123-91 in the Amway.

On December 9th the Magic lost on the road 101-110.

December 28th saw Milwaukee secure a home win 100-111.

The final game was on February 8th and again the Bucks took the win in the Amway 111-95.

Across each of the four games the Milwaukee Bucks defence prevailed, restricting the Magic field goal percentage each time to around 37 or 38%.

Last season we lost the 3 game series 1-2. The head-to-head record in the 114 regular season games played sees the Bucks leading 61-53.

In playoffs the Bucks and Magic had met once previously in 2001, wheer the Bucks won 3-1.

PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

In this weeks Penny For Your Thoughts preview episode Paul, Geraint & Mikey talk about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWHZ5s7VeSU

Both Mikey and Paul have never been so happy to have been wrong in their prediction for a Bucks 4-0 series win!

You can catch the previous episodes and subscribe to our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl72EQRVc39Ozngxkz3vYrQ

KEYS TO THE GAME

In our preview post for the series I wrote how the Magic need to defend the 3, take care of the ball and not foul. Those issues had been a factor for the Magic since the restart. They are also areas the Milwaukee Bucks seek to exploit. The Magic addressed those issues in the most emphatic way.

I will change one thing I wrote and say this, the Magic need to avoid silly fouls. In game 1 the Magic committed 26 fouls, a lot for our team. Those fouls in many cases were good fouls, breaking the Bucks rhythm and frustrating Giannis.

Tonight Orlando’s defensive discipline must remain. The handling errors can not return, removing a source of points for opponents.

We have to contain Giannis, Middleton and Bledsoe again. Very few defences manage that task but our defensive game on Tuesday gave them a hard time and can again. Milwaukee will no doubt make some adjustments and we have to be able to adapt.

Milwaukee are hurt, embarrassed and therefore dangerous. Remember game 2’s defeat in Toronto last season, but unlike last year the Magic squad has that experience and knowing the response is coming are better equiped to face it. Orlando will still be undermanned with injury, far from ideal when facing a wounded team like the Bucks are.

For Orlando to win again it will require all of the above. To again hit the 3 ball consistently and to score in close on a swarming Milwaukee defence. The team leaders will again need to inspire, to fight and for all to play to their best.

WE BELIEVE IN OUR TEAM!

LET’S GO MAGIC!!