Orlando Magic vs. Miami Heat: Game Preview

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

Pregame Report from AdventHealth Training Center 

ORLANDO – It’s been a tough stretch of basketball for the Orlando Magic. 

Orlando has won just three of its last 11 games as its faced challenging opponents, managed an arduous travel schedule and dealt with a series of injuries and illnesses. 

But the team is finally getting healthy and it’s looking to once again rack up wins regardless of who laces them up across the court. 

The Magic (22-20) will attempt to get back on track when they square off with their Sunshine State rivals, the Miami Heat (24-18), at Kia Center on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. 

“Every game is another opportunity; that’s the great part about the NBA,” said Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley. “You can hurt for the one that you lose, but then you get another opportunity to change it on Sunday.” 

The Magic will have their work cut out for them against a Heat team that’s had their number this season. Miami claimed a 115-106 victory in Orlando on Dec. 20 and then followed that up with a 99-96 home triumph on Jan. 12. And in both of those outings, the Heat did not have six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, who’s expected to play on Sunday. 

“You take it one game at a time, but you know you’re always going to be battling Miami,” Mosley said recently. “So, I think you look at that as a little bit of heightened focus … You look up at the standings and there is that group of teams that are bunched together.” 

Miami is extremely disciplined defensively, committing the third-fewest fouls (18.4) per game in the NBA. They also do a tremendous job of limiting the opposition’s offensive opportunities by allowing just 12.9 second chance points per outing – the fourth-lowest total in the league. 

Miami’s defense is anchored by center Bam Adebayo, who tallied 21 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists in his last meeting with Orlando.  

“With (players like) Bam and (Nikola) Jokic, they’re all different in their own way,” said Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. “It’s about going into each game knowing their strengths and weaknesses and attacking those things.” 

IN AND OUT: Franz Wagner (right ankle; sprain) is questionable, while Gary Harris (right calf; strain) is out for the Magic. 

Wagner has missed the last eight contests with an ankle injury that he suffered early in Orlando’s road game against the Sacramento Kings. Prior to going down, the Magic forward was having an All-Star-caliber campaign, averaging 20.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per outing. 

For Miami, Tyler Herro (right shoulder; strain) is probable, while Jamal Cain (G League – Two-Way), R.J. Hampton (G League – Two-Way), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (left groin; strain), and Dru Smith (right knee; surgery) are out. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Honestly, I’m not really surprised in myself. I know what I’m capable of. Just to be back out there is just really, really good. I just find the joy in that and whatever else happens, happens. My teammates are finding me in my sweet spots, and I’m shooting with confidence make or miss. I’ll shoot them over and over; whatever the result is. That’s one of the things that we preach in the locker room is the process over the results. We get good shots, you shoot them. Make or miss. We’re not trying to miss any shots. My work has just been showing in these last three games. Hopefully I will continue that for the next couple of games.” – Carter on his performance over the last three games 

KEY STATS: The Magic are getting bodies back in the lineup and that means they can once again utilize their depth. Orlando’s reserves are averaging 43.4 points per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA. The Magic bench has scored 40-plus points 27 times this season, 50-plus points 12 times, and 60-plus points twice, including a season-high 69 points against the 76ers on Friday.