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Orlando Magic at Utah Jazz Game Preview: Rookie rivals Part Deux

Orlando Magic (7-14) @ Utah Jazz (5-14)
EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
7:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • Radio 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

So . . . the last seven games weren't that great in Utah Jazz -land. But tonight they have to get better, as they will face off against the Orlando Magic. The Magic are on a long road trip, injured, and aren't some dominating force of nature. If there was a game the Jazz were destined to win it would hopefully be of greater importance than an early season game against an Eastern Conference for in December. But destiny aside, tonight should be a very winnable game.

The Magic have two more wins than the Jazz, but play in the East and are having their troubles on this 6 game road trip (currently 1-3). Jacque Vaughn's team plays pretty fast (11th best in pace), but have the 28th worst offense in the land (by Off RTG), and don't scare anyone on defense either (17th by DEF RTG, 19th by Opp PPG). They'll be bereft of the services of two of their rookies (Aaron Gordon and Roy Devyn Marble). Nikola Vucevic is hurting, hasn't played at all this month, is questionable, but not expected to play either. That's a bummer for Orlando because he's averaging 19 and 12 this season.

Offensively the Magic are spectacular three point shooters (37.1%), are horrible at getting to the line or making their freebies, and very rarely get their own offensive rebounds. They are also on the sloppier side of the spectrum, and turn the ball over 16.0 times a game. A really bad offense will face off against a really bad defense tonight, so that's always exciting.

On the other side of the ball, Orlando really gang rebounds their defensive glass, don't foul much, and the other team isn't pressured that much bringing the ball up the floor.

I don't know how this game is going to go, but I know how it SHOULD go -- a Jazz win. But the teams have to take the court and decide that.

Orlando Magic Players:

2014 2015 Game 020 ORL at UTA - Magic Players

Yes, if Nik isn't playing the Jazz should run amok in the paint. Tobias Harris is having a great season, but I'm not sold on him just yet. Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier are legit, and they have guards for days with Elfrid Payton, Luke Ridnour, Willie Green, and Ben Gordon on deck. Kyle O'Quinn will get the start if Big Nik isn't able to go, and he's a very efficient player who makes all of his free throws. He's essentially an upgraded version of Jason Maxiell.

If the Jazz can establish their paint dominance it could be a good game for the team.

Utah Jazz Players:

2014 2015 Game 020 ORL at UTA - Jazz Players

Yes, our bench guards are not so hot right now. But like the Magic, the Jazz are really dependent upon the starters. Alec Burks isn't going to play tonight, otherwise it would have been fun to see him up against Evan Fournier. What we have instead if Round 2 of the rookie fights. Last season it was Trey Burke vs. VIctor Oladipo; this season it's going to be Dante Exum against Elfrid Payton.

Fun stuff.


  • Alec Burks (UTA) is out
  • Jeremy Evans (UTA) is in
  • Aaron Gordon (ORL) is out
  • Roy Devyn Marble (ORL) is out
  • Nikola Vucevic (ORL) is questionable, but not expected to play

There are good players on both teams banged up, but I think Vuc is a bigger critical component to not only these two teams, but for this game.

Marquee Match-up:

There's much to pick out here, Trey vs. Victor, Dante vs. Elfrid -- but I'm going with Gordon Hayward and Tobias Harris. While I think G-Time is better, Harris is on his way to being a legit Top 30 SF (if he's not already), and he is having a great season.

If Gordon can get to the rim, get to the line, and get some quick team fouls on Orlando their defense may become a house of cards, and allow for dribble penetration handoffs to Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert. On the other side of the ball, Harris actually has big game ability and can blow up. Both guys will have to keep each other honest on offense and defense.


These are the starters as far as I can tell (from a few hours ago)

2014 2015 Game 020 ORL at UTA - Starters

If Nik can play that changes a dynamic, but the last time I checked he wasn't going to. I've missed last minute things before, so I could be wrong about this. If I am I will make the appropriate changes. At this stage we need to see more Rodney Hood. Also, less of Joe Ingles, and more Dante Exum, Ian Clark, and Toure' Murry. But that's just what I think . . . I know I'm likely to get a boomerang to my head for saying that though.

Fearful Prediction:

Our defense sucks, but we win anyway. Mainly because Orlando's offense is really bad and they are tired and injured.