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Game Preview: Knicks vs. Magic- 11/17/21

Let’s make it two of three.

NBA: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks (8-6) host the The Orlando Magic (3-11) on Wednesday in their third meeting of the year. Their last encounter was an embarrassment of sorts, but Orlando comes in on a three-game losing streak and look vulnerable.

The Knicks just won an encouraging team victory over the Pacers on Monday night. Against the Magic, will the Knicks win another confidence-builder or suffer another distressing setback? Tune in for tip-off at 7:30 PM.

WHEN LAST THEY MET

Oh, the humanity. In their first contest of the season, the Knicks dominated the Magic 121-96, as expected. Two nights later, the Magic levitated over New York with a 110-104 victory. The Orlandos were ignited by Cole Anthony (29 points) and the fourth-quarter flame-throwing prowess of Terrence Ross (22 points).

For the Knicks, Julius Randle collected 30 points and 16 rebounds. Derrick Rose added 23. The loss was their first of the season and a surprise. Fans who are given to panic began to do so and wondered if this year’s Knicks were legitimate. Come on…the Magic? Really?

Fortunately, cooler heads prevail here at P&T. Lol.

WHAT’S NEW WITH ORLANDO?

Though not without talent, the Magic are off to another rough campaign. They are 1-9 against conference opponents. That single win was against…yeah, whatever. Per game, they score 99.9 points and allow 110.1 points. They are twenty-seventh in both offensive and defensive ratings.

New coach Jamahl Mosley and his young squad won’t reach the playoffs, but can be a nuisance. Anthony averages 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. He showing star-potential on the team that Shaq built. Rookie Franz Wagner is playing fine in big minutes. Harlem’s own Mo Bamba continues to do Bamba-esque things.

The biggest question facing the Magic might be: where does PG Markelle Fultz fit when he returns from ACL surgery? He was improving in Orlando before getting hurt, but an ACL injury can diminish one’s skills, especially at his position. (I’ve had the surgery twice, but was never an NBA point guard.)

Anthony is excelling, and Jalen Suggs has great potential. Questions for the comments crowd: Should the Magic trade Fultz? What team needs him?

PROJECTED STARTERS

Sure, Anthony did all this stuff when he last faced New York:

Despite averaging a steal per game and holding a decent defensive rating of 111, Cole has defensive lapses. Kemba Walker played well on Monday and should continue his spirited play against the youngster.

With Suggs (ankle) and Fultz out, Gary Harris is playing significant minutes at the two guard. He has a woeful 84.5 offensive rating this season. Evan Fournier should benefit from this pairing. A bevy of three-balls might quiet the doubters who want him demoted to the second-unit.

The eighth pick in last year’s draft, SF Franz Wagner averages 13.4 points, four rebounds, and two assists. On Monday, RJ Barrett made up for sub-par play with a big late shot and strong defense down the stretch. More, please.

PF/C Wendell Carter, Jr. is sinking 2.1 threes a game. The big man (6’10”, 270 lbs) averages 13.7 points and 10 rebounds. Randle should work up a sweat chasing him around but has the advantage.

C Bamba is averaging 11.4 points and grabbing 9.4 rebounds. Mitchell Robinson (ankle) is not on the injury report, so he will likely start. Nerlens Noel is out again (knee). Taj Gibson will support off the bench.

PREDICTION

The Knickerbockers work their magic and pound the Pixie Dusters into powder. Double-digit victory. Madison Square Garden. Wednesday, 7:30 PM. Go Knicks.