Orlando Magic at the Chicago Bulls: Game Preview
ORLANDO – Familiar faces in new locations will be the theme of the Orlando Magic road matchup against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
For the first time since the blockbuster deal, in which two-time all-stars Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu went to Chicago in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two future first-round picks, the Magic (17) -37) will face the cops (22-31) at 8 p.m. ET.
“I’m going to consider it another game,” Carter explained. “Since it’s so new, I will of course have a certain chip on my shoulder. I’m a competitor so I’ll go in, play my game and, like I said, help my team win. ”
Both teams have gone through an adjustment phase since trading. Orlando is 2-8 since the departure of Vucevic, who has been on the roster for nine seasons, while Chicago is 3-7 and still looking to find his defensive rhythm with his new pieces. As much as it is an adaptation for the teams, all of the players involved are still trying to gain a foothold with their new squads in a shortened season where there isn’t much practice or non-working days to get used to new environments .
“It will definitely be something special and strange for me,” said Vucevic. “Of course a team with whom I have spent many years. There have been a lot of changes, but there are some players that I have played with (and) the coaching staff for years. It’ll be weird to see me play against the Magic jersey in a Bulls jersey. I look forward to it. I think it will be fun to see these guys, play them and compete against each other at the same time. ”
Vucevic’s influence in Orlando is not to be underestimated. His development as a player was instrumental in the organization ending a six-season playoff drought and then reaching the postseason for two consecutive seasons.
“My time in Orlando was very special for me,” added Vucevic. “I came there as a kid and left nine years later. What I’m really most proud of are the past few years because we’ve been through a lot. We went through a makeover, and then another makeover, and then we made the playoffs two years in a row and I was able to become All-Star twice. These things will always be special to me that I could achieve with magic. ”
His legacy with magic lives on. Young players like rookie Chuma Okeke and the promising young center Mo Bamba have expressed their appreciation for the example of Vooch on and off the pitch several times.
“Vooch was one of the people who showed me and helped me with the pieces when I got here,” Okeke said. “(He was basically telling me) how to do the things he does like a vet does. Just to look at him and follow his steps, both off the field and on the field, how he carries himself, how he works, how he comes to the gym on non-working days, and how he exercises on non-working days. If you just look at the stuff and see how he prepares for game days, it translates into the games, and you can tell by the numbers he puts up. ”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Hopefully the fans will remember me as someone who has always played hard, competed and done my best. And hopefully there they will remember my legacy as something good. It was definitely a very special time for me and something I will always remember. Orlando will always be home to me. In any case, a lot of great things happened for me there. At least now I can talk about it without crying (laughter), which is not bad. It’s a step forward. “Vucevic about his legacy with magic.
INJURY UPDATE: For Orlando, Bamba (left hip bruise) and Okeke (painful right hip) are in question, while Markelle Fultz (ACL torn, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) and Porter (left foot pain) are out.
For Chicago, Garrett Temple (right Achilles tendon) is likely.
KEY STAT: The Magic signed a 10-day deal with Donta Hall on Tuesday. Hall played 12 games with Ignite and Raptors 905 of the NBA G League that season averaging 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 62.5 percent off the floor.
During the 2019-20 campaign, the University of Alabama alum appeared in nine combined games with the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets, averaging 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
RIVALS REPORT: In this edition of our Rivals Report series, the legendary Chuck Swirsky is added. Swirsky is in his 13th season as a play-by-play announcer on Bulls Radio and in his 23rd season in the NBA. Swirsky also delivers an in-season column on Bulls.com and is inducted into three Halls of Fame: the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the WGN Walk of Fame. He was kind enough to take the time and give some insight into the condition of the cops.
Savage: “Nikola Vucevic has now played ten games with the cops. How did he fit in and what did you see from Vooch during your time in Chicago? ”
Swirsky: “Number one, I have to anticipate that because I’m not part of the team every day. We don’t travel. But everything we hear from his teammates about Zoom calls and from head coach Billy Donovan worked so well. He’s very popular and respected, which doesn’t surprise me considering what we’ve heard from Orlando, even before trading, about what a great guy he was and how he fits in with his Orlando teammates. He does the same thing in Chicago. We’re talking about a highly intelligent man who has adjusted well, considering that when trading began, the bulls were ready to start nine out of ten on the streets. So he ran pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, he went to the edge on dives, he made the middle class, and he shot the three. Everything is as advertised (in terms of) what it might bring the cops. He did it considering he is still getting to know the system and the system is still getting to know him. ”
Savage: “When I watch the bulls from afar – I know a lot of the teams that have made trades are looking at it right now – it seems like they are still trying to figure it out on the defensive. How do you see the coming together and how important is that for this team? ”
Swirsky: “It’s extremely important. However, this is not an excuse, this is the truth. They had no downtime for training, just like any team in the league. Exercise is now like an afterthought. The cops play every other day. Orlando will be the first of three games in four nights. The cops have just finished five games in seven nights. Those games suddenly turn one game three, three five, five out nine, and sometimes the players are, I look at them and say to myself, ‘These guys are running on fumes. ‘My admiration goes to the players and coaches in the NBA who keep these players mentally captivated and do their best with strength and conditioning, coaches and nutritionists to keep these players as fresh as possible. From a defensive standpoint, I think it’s a new system for Vooch. If you bring a player with you who has had a significant time in big business, it’s just not the player we’re talking about, but the four, six or seven players, it’s going to be playing in a rotation. So you want to find out if you can overshadow on a doubles from a defensive standpoint? Where is your weak help? How are your communication skills? If you grab the rebound, are you the outlet passerby on the wing or are you going to the middle of the court? All of these things the players learn and they do, Dan, on the fly. What I have been able to judge over ten games is that it is an ongoing job and it will take some time. We can’t really see the benefits of this trade until next year with the training camp. But I believe that this deal will benefit both clubs. Ultimately, this is what it is all about. I don’t think GMs sit in a conference room after a deal and say, “We got the best out of this deal.” I think there’s so much respect for GMs and the admiration they have for one another. This was a deal the bulls really had to make, and this was a deal Orlando really had to make. Here, too, it helps both teams. ”
Savage: “I’m going to look at the deal again. Chicago partially managed to pair Vooch with Zach LaVine and create a nice combo there. How did these two work together, especially on the offensive? ”
Swirsky: “It was wonderful on the offensive. Zach was a mediator, and as you know, I think one of Vooch’s greatest advantages is his ability to lead a crime at the top of the circle. I think he’s a really talented passerby. He’s very smart, and his roles to the brim are strong and crucial. He can finish around the tire. He loves that little jump hook on the block and no one can stop him and they know he’s coming. I think it’s just wonderful to see these two all-stars click in ten games. You are very selfless. There is a lot of respect the two have for each other. There are no ego problems here. I give Zach a lot of credit because when we made that deal, Zach was the first to acknowledge, “Hey, I always wanted to play with a really talented Big,” and these players are hard to come by. They are represented by the same agency so I think they have already done some kind of electroplating. For Orlando’s benefit, they kept Vooch informed. This deal was no accident. After the players exhaled a little, understanding that this trade was taking place and that it was going under, I think it benefited both of them. “