There are a couple afternoon/early evening games in the NBA this Sunday. Orlando and Detroit probably won’t take many eyes away from the NFL, even with the Lions in action yesterday. The Pistons are big favorites at home to the Magic.
First, some housekeeping. Aaron Gordon returned to the lineup on Friday after missing two games with a concussion only to strain is calf in the second quarter against the Trail Blazers. He will miss the game this afternoon and maybe more that just that. Evan Fournier is also out with a sprained ankle. Jonathan Isaac has missed the last 17 games with a sprained ankle of his own but he is on his way back and could play on Sunday. He’s listed as questionable.
Avery Bradley missed Detroit’s win in Indianapolis on Friday with a groin strain. He’s listed as questionable.
Orlando’s injury list is longer and much more concerning that Detroit’s. Luke Kennard stepped in for Bradley and shot the ball pretty well on Friday. He isn’t the defender Bradley is but has a well-rounded offensive game that won’t hold the Pistons back.
The Magic, however, will be without two wings averaging over 18 points per game. Gordon isn’t shooting 58 percent from three anymore but he’s the team’s best two-way player and weapon in transition. Fournier is Orlando’s best shooter. Both guys add an element to Orlando’s game that Mario Hezonja cannot replace.
The Pistons seem to be back on track after a head-scratching seven-game losing streak to start December. The Pistons won by double-digits in Atlanta in the middle of last week and beat the Pacers on Friday night in Indianapolis. That refocused energy is still new enough that it should carry them through this game. Detroit has far more weapons than Orlando does at the moment and while its defense certainly isn’t the same without Bradley, no one is likely to notice against Orlando.
I just don’t see how the Magic will score consistently unless Nikola Vucevic takes Andre Drummond out to the perimeter and really gives him problems. Other than that, Orlando can’t space the floor without Fournier and Gordon and isn’t much of a threat to force turnovers and finish on the break. This is probably the worst team in the NBA at this very moment.
Free Pick: Detroit -10.5