The Miami Heat (18-17) end 2017 in Orlando facing the Magic (12-24) in the second game of a back-to-back set. The teams split their previous two games, with Orlando winning at home 116-109 on Oct. 18, and Miami taking the second contest 107-89 in Miami.
When: Saturday, December 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
TV: Fox Sports Sun
Radio: WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)
Win probability: ESPN predictor gives Miami a 47% chance to win the game.
HEAT: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside
MAGIC: Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Jonathon Simmons, Aaron Gordon, Bismack Biyombo
HEAT: Rodney McGruder (out, tibia surgery), Okaro White (out, foot surgery), James Johnson (out, ankle bursitis), Justise Winslow (out, knee strain), Dion Waiters (out, ankle sprain)
MAGIC: Nikola Vucevic (out, fractured hand), Terrence Ross (out, sprained MCL), Jonathan Isaac (out, sore ankle)
Orlando is 1-9, and Miami 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Magic is 7-9 at home, while the Heat is 10-8 on the road. Miami has won 11 of 20 games against Eastern Conference teams. Magic have won 7 of their 21 games Eastern Conference teams.
Dragic leads the Heat in points per game (16.2) and assists (4.4), Whiteside in rebounds (12.2) and blocks (1.5), Richardson in steals (1.2). Fournier leads the Magic in points per game (18.1), Payton in assists (6.5), Vucevic in rebounds (9.3), Biyombo in blocks (1.1), Payton in steals (1.1).
In the Heat's opening day loss to the Magic Whiteside suffered a bone bruise, which has bothered him for 2 months and counting. On Dec. 26 the Heat scored two less points than in October, but held the Magic to 89 points, or 27 less than the first game. With Gordon back and rested, Orlando defeated the Detroit Pistons 102-89 on Thursday, and should provide a competitive game against the Heat.
In the Detroit game Mario Hezonja provided a reason, which quickly turned viral, on why Orlando may have mistakenly drafted him ahead of Winslow in 2015.
The Magic had an issue with turnovers when Fournier and Gordon returned to the lineup following their absences.
"Detroit erased a 10-point deficit thanks to a 14-0 run in the quarter. A lot of that run was keyed by Magic turnovers. Orlando committed eight of the team’s 19 turnovers in the second quarter of that game, giving up the lead and having to scramble to get it tied at halftime.
"The same problem plagued the team in Tuesday’s loss to the Miami Heat. The Magic committed 10 of the team’s 17 turnovers in the third quarter when they gave up an 11-point lead.
"Return from injuries have certainly hurt the turnover picture. Evan Fournier committed four turnovers in his first game back Tuesday and then another three in Thursday’s win. Aaron Gordon had five turnovers Thursday. There is a bit of timing that both players have to get down as they return from injury with the ball in their hands."
Part of Orlando's success against Detroit came from setting a franchise record in free throw accuracy for a game.
"Orlando went 17 of 17 from the line. Team officials said it was a new franchise record for the free throws made in a game without a miss."
Don't let the Magic's 12-24 record fool you. The Nets took advantage of an undersized shooting guard in Tyler Johnson, point guard in Derrick Walton Jr., and not quite defensively elite three guard lineup without Richardson. The return of Gordon, with his athleticism, fired up the entire Orlando team against the Pistons.
Payton can be sneaky good when given room to create.