The Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors meet on Friday night at the Amalie Arena for a matchup that doesn’t mean a whole lot. In the grand scheme of things, this is one of the most meaningless games on the board in the NBA tonight. The Magic were big sellers at the trade deadline, and are without Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Evan Fournier who all started the year in Orlando are on other teams.
It was a good move for a Magic team that severely disappointed before the trade deadline. On paper, the Magic looked like they might have had something this season. However, they underperformed and had to sell to prepare for the future. The Magic head into Tampa Bay with a record of 18-37. They have a two-game advantage on the Detroit Pistons for 14th in the NBA. Winning games isn’t a good idea for the Magic at this point. Tanking for the draft is the best path to take.
The Magic have been doing a pretty good job of tanking with a record of 1-6 in their previous seven outings. They ended a six-game losing streak recently with a win over the Chicago Bulls, 115-106. Orlando looked excited to play their former teammate, and took advantage of a team that overlooked them. It was only the second win this month for the Magic, as their last win before beating the Bulls was April 1 against the Pelicans in overtime, 115-110.
Prior to beating the Bulls, the Magic were steamrolled by scores of 124-87 against the Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs, 120-97. Even for teams in tank mode, there is still some pride left for some teams. After getting embarrassed like that, the effort meter went up for the Magic significantly to beat the Bulls, 115-106. And for the Bulls, that’s one ugly loss for a team that was hoping to get into the playoffs and do damage with Vuvevic. At 22-32 on the season, their chances are slipping away and the Magic landed a big blow.
The Raptors are already preparing for next season as well. The rest of the season is a feeling out process and opportunity for young guys to step up. With Kyle Lowry out again, Malachi Flynn has a big chance to gain more experience and develop for next season. We could be looking at the future of the Raptors. The San Diego State product has shown a lot of promise, and can only go up from here. With the Raptors banged up to the max going into Friday night, they may have to lean on Flynn heavily in this one. Head below for our free Magic vs. Raptors pick on April 16, 2021.
Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors NBA Betting Odds:
Magic vs. Raptors Prediction:
The Raptors are going to look a lot different on the floor tonight. Don’t tell Malachi Flynn and Chris Boucher that they’re Team B players, but the reality is this isn’t a complete Raptors team. Several key contributors for the Raptors, including Kyle Lowry, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam are all scheduled to be absent for the festivities on Friday night. Fred VanVleet is the only big starter expected to play.
Anunoby and Siakam are not injured, but getting the game off for rest. Expect Anunoby and Siakam to be back against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. With all of this talent not playing for the Raptors tonight, their offense is going to have to run through VanVleet and Flynn.
If they aren’t hot from the field, it’s hard to see where offense is going to come from for the Raptors. The Magic might have a beatable defense, but the Raptors are going to be severely depleted for this contest. I don’t have the most confidence in Khem Birch or Yuta Watanabe saving the Raptors if Flynn and VanVleet are off. Depth off the bench will be a tough situation for the Raptors.
Even when the Raptors are putting a better roster out on the court, they haven’t been a potent offense. The Raptors are 18th in the NBA with 112 points scored per game. They are shooting just 45% from the field for 24th in the NBA. Without the above-mentioned players active, expect scoring to be a major problem for the Raptors in this contest.
At least the Magic have recently gotten Terrence Ross back on the court, and Wendell Carter Jr., who the Magic acquired in the trade for Vucevic, has been showing potential. Carter Jr. had a big game with 19 points and 12 rebounds against his former team. He is likely going to have a field day without Siakam on the court tonight. Considering the talent absent for the Raptors, this looks like a good opportunity for the Magic to string together two wins.