Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Game 4 Preview

Gary Clark
by Dan Savage

Date: Monday, August 24, 2020

Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

Location: THE FIELD HOUSE, Orlando, FL

TV: FOX Sports Florida / NBA TV

Mobile: FOX Sports GO

Radio: 96.9 FM the Game / 98.1 SALSA Y MAS

ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic have a formula that gives them a chance to upset the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, the Milwaukee Bucks, in their first-round playoff series.

Low turnover numbers, limiting points in transition, quality ball movement, aggressive rebounding and minimizing the number of fouls committed are all essential ingredients to that winning recipe.

Unfortunately for the Magic, in Game 3, they were a number of ingredients short.

“Loose rebounds, fifty-fifty balls, (the Bucks) were quicker to the ball last night,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said. “I thought the turnovers were a big key, obviously, and we were minus nine on the glass, and they had fourteen fastbreak points. And Giannis (Antetokounmpo) lived in the paint last night. He was great and we weren’t nearly as good as we had been before that. So those are things that we have to re-commit to, our help defense on he and (Eric) Bledsoe because when they’re in the paint like they were last night it just makes it hard.”

In both of their losses this series, the Magic have played significantly better in the second half. They spent part of their film session on Sunday breaking down the reasons for their slow starts and searching for ways to come out in Game 4 with more force to help them even the series.

“We have to win the first quarter (in Game 4),” Clifford said. “We can’t play against a team as good as they are always from behind. It puts so much pressure on you and the other part is when you get running up and down the floor with them, they’re just able to have those six-zero, eight-zero stretches.”

The Bucks finished the regular season with the NBA’s top ranked defense and when they’re able to get a large lead, gain momentum, collapse on action in the paint and play at a fast pace, they make it nearly impossible for an opponent to mount a successful comeback effort.

“Win the first quarter,” Magic point guard Markelle Fultz said. “Just coming out in that first quarter, our first unit and even our bench, being ready on both ends of the floor (and) playing our game. We have to win that first quarter. I think that’s the big thing for us.”

Despite the loss in Game 3, there were some positives Orlando can look to build on. The Magic shot 47.5 percent from 3-point range, knocked down a franchise playoff-record 19 triples, forced the Bucks to commit 19 turnovers, and played significantly better in the second half.

“For us, I think it’s just emphasizing that we’re going to get shots, we have to keep shooting them and we’re going to knock them down,” Fultz said. “That goes into our preparation coming into the game and our confidence (as well).”

In and Out: The Magic listed Aaron Gordon (strained left hamstring) and Melvin Frazier Jr. (sore lower back) as questionable for the team’s fourth contest against the Bucks and Michael Carter-Williams (strained tendon, left foot) as doubtful.

Gordon continues to make progress, but once again, the determining factor will be how he feels on Monday after going through practice and workouts on Sunday.

Key Quote: “We’re all locked in. From these two losses, we realize how much of a hole we put ourselves in that first quarter in Game 2 and Game 3. And turnaround to see in the third quarter, beginning of the fourth, how close we are. If we clean up some things in that first quarter, I think it’s one of those things that as a unit, we’re really still confident that we could turn this thing around.” – Gary Clark on the Magic’s mindset heading into Game 4.

Rivals Report: For two consecutive games, Milwaukee’s on-the-ball pressure has set the tone out of the gate.

Eric Bledsoe’s on-the-ball aggressiveness has caused issues for Orlando, especially Fultz, who struggled in Game 3. The Magic’s primary ball handler went just 2-for-9 from the floor and was limited to just five points and five assists, while also committing five turnovers.

“The first half, certainly, we were able to put our print on it defensively,” Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Overall, the competitiveness of the group has been good the last two games and we’ll need it in the next game.”

Milwaukee was also given a boost by the improved play of Khris Middleton. After he went just 5-for-20 from the floor and 2-for-10 from distance in the first two games of the series, the All-Star forward broke out for a 17-point performance, knocking down three triples, while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists.

“We wanted him to be aggressive and get back into his rhythm,” Antetokounmpo said. “He played amazing. He got his threes, he got his twos, he made his moves, and I was happy to see Kris out there playing like that. We’re going to need him. We need him now. We’re going to need him in the future. He’s an unbelievable player. Nobody can deny that.”

Also falling into the unbelievable player category was Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak had arguably his most effective game of the series, notching 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while shooting an extremely efficient 85.7 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from long range.

“All of us feed off of Giannis, his leadership, his energy and his competitiveness,” Budenholzer said of the reigning MVP. “He’s our leader and we needed it.”

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