Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers: Game Preview

Markelle Fultz
by Dan Savage

Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Time: 6 p.m. ET

Location: VISA ATHLETIC CENTER, Orlando, FL

TV: FOX Sports Florida

Mobile: FOX Sports GO

Radio: 96.9 FM the Game / 98.1 SALSA Y MAS

ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic’s resiliency will be put to the test as they look to overcome the devastating injury news regarding Jonathan Isaac (torn ACL) and attempt to notch their sixth straight win, third since the restart, on Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers.

To say that the Magic’s offense has been impressive of late would be an understatement. Orlando is No. 1 in the NBA in scoring over the last 14 games – a stretch where the Magic have gone 10-4 – posting an average of 122.1 points per game.

Over their last five games, all wins, Orlando is averaging a ridiculous 127.6 points per contest, and eclipsed the 120-point mark in each of them. It’s the first time in team history that the Magic have accomplished that feat.

In the team’s win over the Kings on Sunday, Orlando tied a franchise record for points in a first quarter (44), scored a season-high 78 points in the first half, and matched a season high by knocking down 18 triples.

“Right now, we happen to be playing very good basketball,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman explained. “Those guys are focused in (on the Pacers) as we speak.”

In and Out: That task was made more difficult on Sunday night when, with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter, Isaac drove into the lane and attempted to split two defenders as he approached the basket. The 22-year-old forward was untouched on the play, but his left knee buckled and he collapsed to the floor in excruciating pain. As feared, an MRI revealed that Isaac, playing in just third game after injuring the same knee on New Year’s Day, had sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“This is a very unfortunate injury at a very inopportune moment, but Jonathan knows that he has the support of the entire organization behind him and we know through who Jonathan is and through history how he’s going to approach his rehab and I could tell you today in his mind is day one of his rehab,” Weltman said.

While it won’t be easy to overcome the loss of Isaac, who’s averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals this season while playing at an All-NBA defensive team level, Orlando can’t afford to dwell on his absence as it attempts to secure the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with six critical seeding games remaining.

“Especially the veteran players, they’ve been through this before in different stops,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said. “This is a Van Gundy-ism but adapting to change is one of the biggest keys for anybody in the NBA. Players get traded. Players get injured. Coaches get fired. And you have to turn the page quickly and be able to adapt and make the changes necessary so that you can play well as a group. It’s an unfortunate part of our league. But a part that’s critical for all of us – players, everybody – to embrace so that we can get the most out of every day.”

Rivals Report: Indiana comes into the contest on the second night of a back-to-back after cruising past the Washington Wizards, 111-100, on Monday.

The Pacers are also battling for postseason positioning in the East, currently sitting one game behind the Miami Heat for fourth in the conference and 1.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for fifth.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for us, it’s going to be interesting," Evan Fournier said of facing the playoff-bound Pacers. "It’s going to be a different type of intensity and focus and that’s exactly what we need. We came here for big games and you want to have fun, we haven’t played meaningful games in a while (with the hiatus), so playing against good teams is going to be fun.”

At the top of the scouting report is sure to be a note about containing forward T.J. Warren, who’s been sensational in two seeding games. After exploding for 53 points in Indiana’s restart opening win over the 76ers, Warren posted 34 points and 11 rebounds against the Wizards.

Quote to Note: “The goal from day one has been to be in the playoffs and be playing in a manner where we could be factor. My message to the guys ever since we got back is, we’ve had the majority of the year where we were a Top 10 defensive team and then a good stretch of games where we were Top 5 in offense. So, we’ve proven we can play well at both ends of the floor. Now, we have to be able to do that at the same time, so we’re more balanced and we have to be able to do it consistently.” – Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford

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