Struggling squads collide in Florida
At 21-37, Orlando almost needs a miracle to claw back into postseason contention. Last Tuesday’s roster shakeup, though, verified that Frank Vogel’s crew isn’t content to simply play out the string.
Terrence Ross will make his Magic debut this evening vs. Portland, with a 7 p.m. ET tip at the Amway Center. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Trail Blazers odds of -150 to emerge victorious. Orlando, on the other hand, represents a +130 underdog.
In advance of the All-Star break, general manager Rob Hennigan dealt Serge Ibaka to Toronto in exchange for Ross and a 2017 first-round pick. While the Magic undoubtedly sacrificed a stellar rim protector, Vogel seems likely to fall in love with Ross’ versatility. The Washington product’s averaging 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per tilt.
As a team, Portland (23-33) faces a similarly grim situation. Terry Stotts’ troops sit two games out of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference despite the nightly heroics of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Blazers made a move before the trade deadline, too, acquiring center Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder from Denver for Mason Plumlee.
Conceivably, Ross’ arrival in the Sunshine State should reduce some of the pressure on Aaron Gordon. The uber-gifted forward has battled through a number of inconsistent stretches in his third professional campaign. Of course, it’ll also take a bit for all of Vogel’s pieces to mesh. Look for the visitors to pile up a plethora of buckets here.