The Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic square off at the Anway Center. The Magic are going to have a new look on Friday night without Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon on the court. Vucevic is off to Chicago in an attempt to get the Bulls in the playoffs, while Gordon is going to Denver to solidify their status as one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference. The Magic are in full tank and rebuilding with the Vucevic and Gordon deal.
It’s a wise move by the Magic, but they didn’t have much of a choice with Gordon, as he didn’t want to be in Orlando any longer and demanded a trade. Gordon suffered through an injury this season, so the Magic know what life is like without him. However, Vucevic off the court is going to be different and weird. Not in a good way. Vucevic was the focal-point of the Magic offense.
Everything ran through him. The 30-year-old scored 24.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game with the Magic this season. The fact that Vucevic is out of his 20’s now, and the Magic are in rebuilding mode, it was best to deal him at the peak. It has been an ugly season for the Magic, and it’s not going to get any better now. That’s partly by design, as the front office is looking to tank for the draft.
The Magic own a record of 15-29 and are only ahead of the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference. They’re 16.5 games behind the 76ers for the lead. Naturally, they aren’t catching the Sixers or making the playoffs, but just to give you some perspective of how bad the Magic have been this season. It can’t be stressed enough that this was with Vucevic, so the front office is doing an excellent job at tanking and bettering their chances in the draft lottery.
Portland is looking to get better, and they did that by adding shooter Normal Powell from the Toronto Raptors. They had to part with Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, but it adds an additional scorer to an already dangerous Blazers’ offense. Making his much anticipated return on Friday night is Jusuf Nurkic. Powell is unlikely to play, though Nurkic is listed as probable. He’s been out since a 111-87 loss against the Indiana Pacers on January 14. Head below for our free Trail Blazers vs. Magic pick on March 26, 2021.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Orlando Magic NBA Betting Odds:
Trail Blazers vs. Magic Prediction:
The Magic are coming off one of their biggest wins of the season against the Phoenix Suns on Monday. As a 9.5-point underdog, the Magic won straight up by a score of 112-111. If you need a lesson in why you shouldn’t play heavy favorites on the moneyline then there you go. Vucevic was responsible for 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Evan Fournier chipped in with 21 points and 2 assists.
Besides those two, Chuma Okeke off the bench was the only Magic player to record at least 15 points. We of course aren’t going to find Vucevic or Fournier on the court against the Blazers tonight. Despite the win against the Suns, the Magic are scoring just 104.5 points per game for 29th in the NBA. They’re 30th in the league with a shooting percentage of 43.2%.
This was with a scorer like Vucevic in the lineup for the Magic. What do you think is going to happen with Vucevic and Fournier on other teams now? That’s exactly what the front office expects given their goals for the rest of the season. The only thing the Magic did well was offensive rebound. They were fifth in the league in that respect, but now with Vucevic gone, that’s going to take a hit as well.
The Trail Blazers are coming off a 125-122 win against the Miami Heat last night. The Trail Blazers on a back-to-back is the only thing working in favor of the Magic tonight. They were losers against the Mavericks, 132-92, and Nets, 116-112, so that was a nice win in Miami to get off the snide. With CJ McCollum and Nurkic back now, they’re a much healthier squad and should be able to have mismatches galore against the Magic.
The offense was still playing well without those two, but expect a lot more on both ends of the floor with Nurkic in the lineup. The Blazers are ninth in the NBA with 114.7 points scored per game, though can be better than that when healthy. If they are interested in playing tonight, this should be a blowout in Orlando.