Milwaukee Bucks (-4, 207 o/u) at Orlando Magic
There’s no doubt that the Orlando Magic (15-33, 5-15 home) are heading toward a lottery pick. The Jacque Vaughn-coached team has lost 12 of 14, and is currently on a six-game losing streak, during which time the team has given up more than 113 PPG.
But the team’s woes aren’t for lack of effort. Magic center Nikola Vucevic knows his coach is giving all he can.
“I think it’s been tough on him just like on all of us, he obviously knows that we’re capable of more,” Vucevic said “We know that we’re so close, we’re just missing that something that can take us over the hump.”
That hump may be closer than most people think, considering the Magic recently held the Memphis Grizzlies to 36 points in the second half. That’s the good news. The bad news, Orlando still lost the game, 103-94.
“You need that willingness to get dirty, play together and not mind getting hit and having confrontation and being OK with it,” Vaughn said. “You have to be scrappy. You’ve got to be dedicated to getting stops and it has to have a high value of importance to you. In the second half we did.”
The Magic are hoping to turn that second-half momentum into a 48-minute effort tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks (23-22, 13-12 away).
The Bucks are hovering around .500 and are 4-4 over their last eight. They come into tonight’s game on a winning note, though, after beating Miami 109-102 on Tuesday.
“They believe in one another and they believe they can win,” said Bucks head coach Jason Kidd. “Even when we were down [to the Heat], guys didn’t panic, guys didn’t take bad shots, our defense tightened up and we went from there.”
Against the Heat, the Bucks had seven players in double figures and shot 54.9 percent from the floor. The 109 point outburst was a rarity for the team, which averages under 100 points per game.
Usually, when the Bucks have success, it starts at the defensive end of the floor. Milwaukee is fourth in the league in points against, surrendering just 97.2 per night.
Offensively, the team doesn’t have a real go-to scorer. Point guard Brandon Knight leads the team with 17.9 PPG, but five different players average in double-figures.
“Different guys on different nights,” forward Jared Dudley said. “[T]hat’s the motto of our team.”
Regarding the o/u, the Bucks are 18-27-0 on the season, and 11-14 on the road. Look for this game to stay under (207).
(Photo credit: Mike (Flickr: Washington at Orlando 045) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)