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Preview: Warriors at Magic - No Durant, Iguodala on tail end of back-to-back tonight

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Golden State Warriors

Nothing is guaranteed with this Golden State Warriors team. Coming into the four-game road trip, most people had these games against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic tagged as the easy ones. With the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Denver Nuggets on the horizon, the consensus was that the Warriors would easily roll over these relatively weak Florida teams before facing “real” tests starting Saturday in Philly.

Welp. It hasn’t worked out like that so far. A tough road loss cemented by an absolutely ridiculous game winning shot from Dwayne Wade is still sitting like a brick in the pit of our stomachs, as the team heads to Orlando without a few critical players.

Presumably, this means that Kevon Looney will get the start - though Alfonzo McKinnie has an outside shot at it, just due to roster construction considerations. Without Iguodala, the bench rotations are going to be wacky, but are likely to feature much more Shaun Livingston than normal. A lot hinges on the availability of Jonas Jerebko, who is listed as “probable” but no detailed updates were available as of this afternoon.

Game Details

WHO: Golden State Warriors (43-17) at Orlando Magic (28-34)

WHEN: February 28; 4:00 p.m
WHERE: Amway Center; Orlando, FL


RADIO: 95.7 The Game

The Orlando Magic are a team on the cusp... of adequacy

Warriors fans will know all too well the struggle of being a bad team just trying to make the playoffs. Championships are questions left to another era. The focus of the annual struggle for teams this low on the pecking order of the NBA, is on just making the playoffs.

Currently sitting in the 9th seed, the Magic are on the cusp of achieving that. They’ve got enough young talent to compete already, and players that project to continue to (hopefully) improve.

Though they aren’t elite in any specific aspect, the Magic do boast a top-10 defensive efficiency rating, as per Unfortunately, that excellence is somewhat offset by an offense that struggles to score. They average around 106 points per game, which is bad enough to fall in the bottom five of the league (not adjusted for pace).

If you’re looking for a “star” player on the Magic, it’s probably Nikola Vucevic, who leads the team in points (20.6 per game), rebounds (12 per game), and steals (1). The seven-foot power forward made the All Star game this year, becoming the first Magic player to garner such an honor since Dwight Howard back in 2012.

Recently, Orlando has struggled to stay consistent. Though won eight of their last 11 games, they’ve dropped games to both the New York Knicks, and the Chicago Bulls - two of the very worst teams in the entire league. But the team somehow managed to sandwich in a win over the very good Toronto Raptors team in between those two losses, so I’m not sure what to make of them right now.

Hey, at least the Warriors aren’t boring, right?

For a team this stacked with all-world talent, the Golden State Warriors haven’t been as reliably dominant as most would expect. The team’s net rating of +6.5 is only good enough for second in the league, behind the surprising Milwaukee Bucks.

So yes, it’s been a somewhat underwhelming season. But can we talk about this?

Story time.

I used to work on a ropes course, which is a series of challenges designed to foster team building and facing fears. We’d get all sorts of leadership groups, and one of the core truths I found in facilitating these groups through challenges is that the youth groups were more malleable. You tell a group of kids to figure out a way to scale a 40-foot “ladder” made out of tree trunks that get progressively further apart and they generally go for it.

But the older people. Corporate retreats, managers, et cetera? If they gave you a ‘no’ it was pretty firm. There’s no talking a grown up into something if they’re not into it.

For the Warriors, EVERYONE knows that these regular season games don’t matter. We already did the 73 wins and no ring. So please, don’t put this on Kerr, this team and the players know they aren’t playing for anything meaningful till April.

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