by Ya Mudda
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their tour of Florida tonight visiting the Orlando Magic. The Magic currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 5-6 and are coming off a tough loss to the Washington Wizards. Victor Oladipo, who is probably the leader of this young Magic team, has missed the last two games but will be returning to action tonight to face the Timberwolves, which makes this match up all the more tougher.
The Magic, eerily similar to the Timberwolves right now, have both superstar big men over the last few years and have chosen to rebuild through the draft. Both teams are very young and inexperienced but the talent on both rosters is immeasurable. I fully expect tonight to be a battle between two teams who are tanking; this could be an exciting game to watch as both teams have a similar road ahead of them in terms of developing the raw talent that they possess and adding more key pieces through the draft.
The Magic are a disciplined team as you would expect from a Scott Skiles coached team but they do have some relative weaknesses, firstly they are not a great defensive rebounding team, even though they are 7th in total rebounds per game they currently sport a defensive rebounding percentage of 74.7% which ranks 23rd in the league. We know KARL loves to crash the boards occasionally so maybe this could be a chance for him to shine.
Even though we would all love the young guns from both sides to come out running this game may end up being a battle in the half court as both teams play at a similar pace and don’t really like to run out.
Match-ups to watch:
Rubio vs. Payton: Both of these point guards are very good defenders, one could argue that Rubio is the best. Advanced stats say that when Rubio is on the court the Timberwolves give up 91.9 points while when he’s off the court the Timberwolves give up 109.1. That is a massive difference; it’s no coincidence that his return also marked the return of the Timberwolves winning ways. Ricky gives the sophomore point guard fits tonight.
KARL vs. Vucevic: This should be a fun match-up purely from an offensive point of view; both of these big men are solid in the post and have a jump shot that extends about 20 feet out. KARL is a better defender however and I predict he wins this one handily.
Wiggins vs. Oladipo: Victor Oladipo (isn’t it fun to say) is a feisty guard who’s not afraid to take the big shot (see Thunder game from two weeks ago), he’s also very important to the Magic, the offense is five points better when he’s on the court and not only that the energy he brings is unmatched by any of the reserves. Oladipo is going to be a tough cover for Wiggins if he has a good shooting night, if not; I think Andrew can neutralize him by matching point for point.
Lavine vs. Hezonja. I don’t care if they don’t match up; this is just an excuse for me to talk about these two guys. Lavine has been more than serviceable in Rubio’s absence but he’s not a genuine starting point guard (he’s more a 2 guard in my opinion) and will revert back to bench duty. Mario Hezonja is probably the 2nd coming of Michael, he also plays with so much freedom and swag, Skiles may not be giving him a lot of game time but boy when he’s in is he fun to watch. I like Mario Hezonja a lot if it isn’t obvious by now.