Pregame Report from AdventHealth Training Center
ORLANDO- The Orlando Magic are coming off one of their best performances of the season.
They shined on both ends of the floor and received quality contributions up and down the roster on their way to a convincing victory over the Boston Celtics, owners of the NBA’s best record.
Now, the Magic will look to build on that momentum when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at 7 pm ET as Orlando attempts to notch its ninth home win in its last 12 games within the friendly confines of Amway Center.
“Our energy, our effort, our ability to impact shots,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley of what’s led to his team’s success. “Defensively, I’m just proud of what we’ve done in these fourth quarters. Really sitting down and guarding. Making it a priority. We know that’s where we have to hang our hats.”
Orlando received a big boost in that area with the return of Jonathan Isaac, who missed two-and-a-half seasons of action as he recovered from a devastating left knee injury. Although he hadn’t played in NBA action in 904 days, Isaac picked up right where he left off, notching 10 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals in just under 10 minutes of action.
Perhaps his best sequence of the night came during a stretch late in the third quarter when he hit a corner three, came down on the other end, poked the ball away from Jaylen Brown, and then set up Paolo Banchero for a two-handed slam .
“I think I can guard anybody through five,” Isaac said. “So, to take the challenge on my first night back and to stick with (Jayson Tatum and Brown), I want it. I just want to continue to work and show what I can do. I want that to be my staple. A big staple of our team is defense. Look at the way (Jalen) Suggs came into the game and maybe didn’t get as many shots as he wanted, but the way that he grinded and stuck with Tatum was amazing. So, I want guys to feed off of me and be that battery pack to lead us to wins.”
The Magic will certainly look to set the tone on the defensive end against a Pacers squad that snapped a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday with a win over the Chicago Bulls. With Tyrese Haliburton sidelined, Indiana’s attack is led by Buddy Hield, Myles Turner and rookie Bennedict Mathurin.
Held currently leads all NBA players in 3-pointers made this season, knocking down 185 of them. The next closest player is Portland’s Anfernee Simons, who is 20 triples behind the 6-foot-4, 220-pound guard. Myles Turner is averaging career highs in both points (17.3) and rebounds (7.8) per game while also blocking 2.4 shots per contest.
If not for Banchero’s tremendous first-year campaign, Mathurin would be one of the lead candidates in the league’s Rookie of the Year race. The sixth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is second in points per game (17.5) among rookies, trailing only Banchero, who leads his class with 20.7 points per contest.
IN AND OUT: When’s the last time we’ve seen an injury report this short for Orlando? Only Kevon Harris (G League – Two-Way), Caleb Houstan (G League – On Assignment) and Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) will be unavailable for the Magic on Wednesday night.
Indiana’s injury report is not yet submitted. However, Kendall Brown (G League – Two-Way), Haliburton (left knee, elbow; sprains), Andrew Nembhard (illness), and Daniel Theis (right knee surgery) all missed his game against the Bulls on Tuesday.
KEYSTAT: All eyes were on JI Based on Nielsen household impressions in the Orlando market, Isaac’s return in his team’s win over the Celtics was the most-watched Magic game on Bally Sports Florida since Dec. 29, 2020.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Much love. I appreciate it. I know it’s been a tough road. I know it’s been a long road. For the Magic fans to stick with me and await my return, it feels great. I just want to win. I want to continue to work and bring a championship to this city. That’s what we’re going to continue to do.” – Isaac on his message to Magic fans
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.