Raptors vs Magic Live: After opening their time in Orlando with wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, The Toronto Raptors have somehow remained as legitimate contenders despite losing Kawhi Leonard in the offseason and have reiterated that fact in the NBA bubble by beating the likes of LA Lakers and Miami Heat. The Orlando Magic, on the other hand, had their winning run in Disney World halted by the Indiana Pacers.
After a quiet outing to open the seeding game schedule, Siakam warmed up in the Raptors win over the Heat, scoring 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter.
The last time Siakam faced the Magic was a forgettable one, as he finished with 10 points of 4-for-22 (18.2%) shooting, thanks largely in part to the elite defense of the lengthy Jonathan Isaac. With Isaac out after suffering a torn ACL Sunday, the Magic will now have to figure out how to slow down the Raptors All-Star forward.
Aaron Gordon will likely take the most of the assignment with Gary Clark, James Ennis, Wes Iwundu and potentially Michael Carter-Williams each taking turns guarding Toronto’s leading scorer. Last postseason saw Siakam have a coming-out party of sorts against Orlando when he led the Raptors to a Game 3 win with a 30-point, 11-rebound double-double.
We could very well see him have his bubble breakout performance against the Magic on Wednesday.
How will the back-to-back affect Orlando?
During the seeding games, each team has one back-to-back on their schedule. The Magic just happened to draw the defending champs on the second end of theirs. With travel out of the equation, it’s a little different from a typical back-to-back situation but as a reference point, Orlando was 1-9 on the second night of a back-to-back prior to the season’s restart.
It’s high stakes for the Magic, who, depending on their performance in the seeding games, will finish seventh or eighth in the standings, setting up a postseason date with either these Raptors or the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
Every game counts, including their meeting with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
Will Steve Clifford go deeper in the rotation to combat fatigue? Will Orlando have enough in the tank to contend with a more rested Toronto team?
Is it Norman Powell’s time?
As mentioned earlier, Pascal Siakam had a rough go the last time these two teams met in late November. In fact, it was an overall ugly game for pretty much every Raptor not named Norman Powell.
In a 90-83 grind-out win, Powell finished with 33 points on 12-for-18 (66.7%) shooting from the field and 5-for-8 (62.5%) shooting from deep in a starting role. The rest of the team shot 19-for-66 (28.8%) from the field and 6-for-30 (20.0%) from deep. I don’t expect the rest of the team to shoot that poorly on Wednesday, but maybe Powell can replicate that performance while coming off the bench.
So far, Powell has been unable to pick up where he left off prior to the season’s suspension, averaging 7.5 points on 28.6% shooting in the Raptors first two seeding games. In Monday’s win over the Miami Heat, Norm showed some encouraging signs, getting to the rim for an explosive dunk, connecting on a triple and dishing out five assists. Can he build upon the momentum of the positive things to have a breakout performance of his own?
The Toronto Raptors are more or less guaranteed to finish as the second seed in the East. With four players averaging a career-high in points and Kyle Lowry managing almost 20 a game, Nick Nurse side hasn’t found it difficult to outscore opponents, especially given their second-best defensive rating in the NBA.
More importantly, the onus of production gets distributed out with multiple players capable of scoring over 20 on any given night. It was Lowry and OG Anunoby against the Lakers with Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet going off against the Heat. Expect scoring bursts from several players against the Orlando Magic too.