ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic begin their final trip of the season as they close their 2020-21 campaign with four straight road games.
The Magic’s first stop (21-47) will be in Milwaukee as they face Central Division champion Bucks (43-25) at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
The game will mark the first of four consecutive contests against teams currently ranked fifth or higher in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“Our guys were disappointed with the way we played (against the Timberwolves); it wasn’t anything crazy, but there was a lot of energy in the gym, ”said Magic head coach Steve Clifford, whose team trained for the first time in addition to two weeks Monday. “To be challenged like that and face elite teams that play for something, it will be a good challenge for our guys. This is something that I think we will have the right attitude for.
While it is difficult to place high expectations and demands on a young, injury-ravaged team that includes a number of players in their rotation who have been on the squad for less than a month, there are certain elements of the game that they can play realistically. at a higher level to give themselves a chance to be more competitive against Milwaukee than they were against Minnesota.
“The NBA will bring you to your knees and in a situation like this where we’re going to play (three) more teams with as much talent as (the Timberwolves) or more, all down the road, we’ve got to have the right attitude,” Clifford said. “Hopefully we can get a game goal and a little bit of intensity.”
This will be critical against a Bucks team that holds the league’s fifth-best offensive rating (116.5) and ranks first in runs scored (120.0), fourth in quick break points (14.5) and third for 3 points (14.6) per game.
KEY STAT: RJ Hampton continues to take advantage of his increased opportunities in Orlando. Against the Timberwolves, the explosive combo guard posted a career-high 19 points shooting 53.8% from the ground and 50.0% from 3-point range. This is the third time in the last five games that Hampton has tied or established a new career with the highest number of points scored. Over that span, he’s averaged 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s definitely harder to do that sometimes when you face adversity, but that’s what separates the good teams and the great teams and teams that make it up and the teams that grow up. Right now it looks like it’s a tough season, but from here we really don’t have another place to go but at the top. It all starts in a few weeks when this thing ends. You have to find a way to come back to a standstill, reset and start over. “- Super sixth man magic Terrence Ross explains how a team can maintain a successful culture and believe in winning habits in the middle of a losing season.
INJURY UPDATE: For Orlando, Wendell Carter Jr. (left eye abrasion) is questionable, while Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle sprain), James Ennis III (right calf pain), Markelle Fultz (ACL tear, knee left), Jonathan Isaac (left knee) rehabilitation), Chuma Okeke (left ankle sprain), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain) and Terrence Ross (back spasms) are absent.
For Milwaukee, Axel Toupane (tense right oblique muscle) did not play against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.