Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic (19-24), travel to the Little Caesars Arena to take on Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons (18-24) for a 7:00 pm tip on Wednesday, January 16. The previous two matchups between these two teams were split 1-1. November 7, the Pistons topped the Magic 103-96 led by Andre Drummond’s dominant twenty-three points and nineteen boards for Detroit, and Evan Fournier’s twenty-seven points and shooting 50% from three for the Magic. The next matchup was on Sunday December 30, where the Magic’s Evan Fournier made a buzzer-beater as time expired to win 109-107. Luke Kennard’s team high sixteen points really spoke to how poor of a night the Pistons had. The Magic had a three-pronged attack with D.J. Augustin, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic scoring twenty-six, twenty-two, and twenty-two points respectively.
In the 2018 Draft with the No. 6 overall pick, the Orlando Magic selected Mohammed Bamba. Bamba was supposed to take over from Nikola Vucevic at the end of the season with the center’s contract running up this summer. This plan has been scrapped due to Vucevic’s career year scoring career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. This has resulted in many trade rumors sending Vucevic to the Celtics. The problem this year for the Magic has been a lack of a strong point guard. This has made the Magic to throw their hat into the Markelle Fultz ring. Those rumors have fizzled out, but the new target is the Maverick’s out of favor Dennis Smith Jr. I would not be surprised if he was in a Magic uniform shortly.
After such an emotional game vs. the Clippers, it could be expected that the Pistons would struggle to match that level of effort and fight. This was shown through a quite flat performance vs. the Jazz. No Piston managed to score above twenty points. Blake Griffin was a rough 3-11 from distance, and Reggie Jackson 0-5. This embodied the theme that happened all year, the lack of Pistons shooting. The Pistons defense managed to hold the red-hot Donovan Mitchell under thirty points which is what kept the Pistons close in their 100-94 loss.
The Pistons are closely favored to beat the Magic and this game will probably come down to a coin-flip. The winner of the game will come down to who can win the battle of the centers. Vucevic and Drummond are among the league’s best center and we should expect the winner of this battle will carry their team to victory. I predict a low-scoring 102-99 Pistons victory due to both teams being in the basement in scoring.Watch out for one of either team’s three-point shooters, Fournier or Bullock, to catch fire. Orlando’s starting five should look like Augustin, Fournier, Isaac, Gordon, Vucevic and Detroit’s as Jackson, Brown, Bullock, Griffin, Drummond.