clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Raptors pay a visit to the Orlando Magic: Preview, Start Time and More

With the end of their four-game winning streak, the Raptors look to start a new one against Bismack Biyombo and the Magic.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It was starting to feel like the Raptors were immune to losing basketball games before Friday night, until Dwight Howard turned the clock back ten years with an impressive 27 point, 17 rebound performance in the Hawks 125-121 win over the Raptors. After setting a franchise record for margin of victory in their 128-84 victory against the Hawks earlier this month, the Raptors were quickly reminded that in the NBA, any night is fair game and any team can catch you sleeping.

That being said, the Raps still sit at 18-8 so far on the season and visit an Orlando team tonight, who despite their current identity crisis has shown flashes of competent basketball and sit at 12-16 so far.

The biggest story line tonight (or should I say the tallest) will be the Raptors taking on their old rim protector in Bismack Biyombo. This will be the first chance for Masai Ujiri and his staff to sit back and enjoy the $72 million that they saved in opting not to re-sign the Congolese centre. Hey, I love Bismack as much as the next guy, but despite the finger wagging, he is no Dikembe Mutombo and that’s some serious money for a guy who’s thunderous blocks disguise the fact that he can’t catch a basketball in the post and has little versatility on the floor.

The Magic are coming off of a win against Brooklyn, but have lost four of their last six contests and have posted a record of 5-9 at the Amway Center in Orlando. The Raptors took two of three meetings against Orlando last season, and look to find similar success against them this season starting with a big victory tonight.

Here are a few things to watch for in tonight’s contest

The Successor Meets his Match: Bebe vs. Bismack

After losing Biyombo to Orlando in free agency last summer, the Raptors knew that they had lost some leverage on the defensive end of the floor, and particularly around the rim. Despite the Raptors early success this season, this presence has been tough to replace, but we have seen at times what Lucas Nogueira has been able to do when assuming this role.

In terms of opponents efficiency around the rim, the two share quite similar numbers as opponents are shooting 49.1 percent (on 175 attempts) with Biyombo as the primary rim protector and 48 percent (on 135 attempts) with Nogueria protecting the rim. Bismack has recorded 38 blocks in 709 minutes and Nogueria 32 blocks in just 340 minutes.

One of the Raptors greatest units sees Joseph and Lowry manning the point, Ross and Patterson at the forward spots and Nogueira locking up the middle. This lineup has contributed an offensive rating of 130 and defensive rating of just 99.7 over 130 minutes of court time. Look for this to be a key lineup in tonight’s contest.

The Best Defense is a Better Offense

Tonight’s contest will feature the current top offense in the NBA (and currently in history, yep, history) in the Raptors offensive with a rating of 117.9 points per 100 possessions. Orlando on the flip side has been far from an offensive juggernaut, sitting at 26th in the NBA with an offensive rating of just 102.8. In fact, the only worst offensive team in the East is, yup you guessed it, the 76ers of Philadelphia.

A large part of the Raptors success has of course been the play of DeMar DeRozan, but even more so of All-star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been lights out over the month of December, averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on 55 percent shooting from the floor and 58 percent shooting from three-point land.

Pace and Space

It sounds cliche as hell, but in a game like tonight, pace and space will actually play a key role in tilting the advantage in the Raptors direction. Orlando’s roster is littered with large, slow moving bodies and the Raptors will have to take advantage of that when they can.

The Raps are a quick and athletic team that love to get out and get going when they can, scoring 13.5 percent of points off of fast breaks, good for ninth in the Association. The Magic on the other hand. The Raptors are also efficient when moving around and setting traps in the half court, as they set 12.2 screen assists per game, which is third across the league. The more the Raptors keep their feet moving and force Orlando to do the same, the more they will be able to control this game.

Where to Watch: TSN2, 6:00 PM EST