Wednesday, November 28 at 10:00 PM ET
Coverage: NBA TV
Two reeling teams look to get back on track when the Orlando Magic visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. The Magic have lost three of their last four games while the Trail Blazers have dropped three in a row.
The Magic are now 10-11 under new head coach Steve Clifford, which has them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The team turned around a 2-6 start and got impressive wins against the Spurs on the road and against the 76ers at home, so they're proving they can beat anyone on any given night.
This is the fifth year for the Magic's core of Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier and this season's fourth and fifth-leading scorers, Terrence Ross and D.J. Augustin have been with the team for three years, so that continuity has helped the Magic post their second-best net rating (-3.1) in seven years, per NBA.com.
Clifford is known as a defensive head coach but according to NBA.com, he's helped Orlando to their highest offensive rating in eight years at 105.7 points per 100 possessions. A big key to the Magic's offensive turnaround is that their assist-to-turnover ratio is at 1.92, third in the league and they're assisting on 65.1 percent of their shots.
After three straight losses, the Trail Blazers have gone from first place in the Western Conference to serious concerns. Damian Lillard put up 30 points against the Clippers last Sunday but the Trail Blazers were flat and losing Jusuf Nurkic to a shoulder contusion at halftime and blowing a lead that climbed as high as 15 points didn't help.
The Trail Blazers were outscored 38-16 in the third quarter alone, with Tobias Harris leading the comeback to carry the Clippers to a 104-100 win. Portland was playing solid basketball but they've been outscored by 75 points in the last three games, the largest margin of defeat over the past week in the entire NBA.
The Orlando Magic are:
8-0 ATS in their last eight games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
6-1 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning straight up record
6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall
5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against a team with a winning home record
The Portland Trail Blazers are:
1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss
1-5 ATS in their last six games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
0-4 ATS in their last four games overall
0-5 ATS in their last five games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
The Orlando Magic are a well-oiled machine on defense but sometimes their lack of firepower makes it difficult for them to keep up on offense throughout the course of an entire game. Aaron Gordon will be a game-time decision, depending on how well his back injury responds to treatment and his presence can be the difference here.
Gordon is not only Orlando's second leading scorer and rebounder (16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds) but he's also been a defensive stalwart for them and him not being on the floor could be a major problem for the Magic when facing one of the best offenses in the league.
The Magic lost a heartbreaker to the Warriors, 116-110 on Monday and the back spasms that took Gordon out of the game through the third quarter were a primary reason for the setback. Gordon has emerged as Orlando's defensive stopper and we all know what he's capable of on offense, so take the Magic if Gordon plays.
NBA Pick: Magic +8 (-110) at Jazz Sports