Scrimmage Preview: Isaac and Fultz Return for Magic’s Final Scrimmage

Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz
by Dan Savage

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Date: Monday, July 27, 2020

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: VISA ATHLETIC CENTER, Orlando, FL

TV: FOX Sports Florida

Mobile: FOX Sports GO

Radio: 96.9 FM the Game

ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic received a plethora of good news on Monday when it was announced that both Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz would be able to return to the lineup for the team’s final scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets.

“Their minutes will be restricted, but it will be good to have them both out there,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said.

After suffering a posterior lateral corner injury and a bone contusion to his left knee on January 1, it was thought Isaac was lost for the season. However, courtesy of a four-month-plus NBA season hiatus and Isaac’s diligence to his rehab, the Magic’s 7-foot forward is able to make his return.

“In the times that he’s played in practice, he’s done so much work that he’s actually looked very good,” Clifford said. “He’s felt good, so this will be the next step in his returning. It’s good to have him back and he’s excited to play and obviously we’re ecstatic that he’ll be out there.”

Isaac’s return is also in part thanks to an organizational effort from the team’s high performance, training, rehabilitation and physical therapy staff to the coaches and to leadership in basketball operations. With Isaac’s faith in their ability and belief that they hold his best interest at heart, he was fully committed to their rehabilitation plan that included many two-a-day training sessions.

“I believe that I could get back,” Isaac said. “I just locked in and said, ‘I’m down for the two-a-days, I’m down for the work,’ and we put it and I’m glad to be back to this point.”

Fultz’s return comes after he missed the team’s first two scrimmages while working his way back into game shape. The Magic’s starting point guard arrived late to the campus and missed Orlando’s first seven practices as he dealt with personal matters not related to COVID-19.

“I’m actually feeling really good, (my conditioning) has been coming along well,” Fultz said. “That’s why everything has been going so good. I’ve just been pushing myself. I know I have to adapt to getting to game speed, but I’ve been feeling really good.”

In and Out: Aaron Gordon will not play the team’s final scrimmage against the Nuggets due to mild left groin muscle soreness (precautionary reasons).

Rivals Report: The Nuggets mark the Magic’s third straight scrimmage opponent that is Top 3 in the Western Conference standings.

Denver also ranks towards the top of the league in dribble-handoffs run per game. For an Orlando team that’s been attempting to clean up its dribble-handoff and high pick-and-roll defense, it should prove to be a valuable matchup.

“They’re a very good team for us to play,” Clifford said. “We ended up playing, which I think will help us, three very terrific teams in these scrimmages and it’s allowed us to, so far in the two that we’ve played, get a lot out of it.”

The Nuggets have rolled out a few unconventional lineups during the scrimmage season. Their starting lineup for their opening scrimmage against the Washington Wizards featured 7-footer Nikola Jokic at point guard, 7-foot-2 Bol Bol at small forward and 6’11 Mason Plumlee at center.

All of that is predicated on Jokic’s immense skill and passing ability for a big man.

“It’s all set up by Jokic’s skill level, passing, decision making,” Clifford said. “Obviously, he’s a thinking man’s player and he plays like a point guard in a center’s body.”

TV Update: FOX Sports Florida announced on Monday that it will be airing the Magic’s game against the Nuggets live. Previously, the contest was going to appear on the network via tape delay.

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