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Warriors vs. Magic Preview: Home sweet home

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Golden State will be heavy favorites against Orlando.

Golden State Warriors v Orlando Magic Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

After a bittersweet four-game tour of Texas that saw them win two blowouts and lose two nail-biters, the Golden State Warriors return home, and they’re gifted a team on a slide.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (13-12) vs. Orlando Magic (9-16)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Draymond Green
Magic: Cole Anthony, Gary Clark, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis, Nikola Vučević

Last results:

Warriors: Beat the Spurs 114-91 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Magic: Lost to the Blazers 106-97 — 1-4 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 110.4 offense (20th), 110.6 defense (9th), -0.2 net (14th)
Magic: 106.1 offense (27th), 113.5 defense (20th), -7.4 net (29th)

The story

While the Warriors play of late has been a touch frustrating, much of it has been inspiring, as well. The Texas Tour was difficult because they lost the close games and won the blowouts, but that’s also a sign of the team moving in the right direction.

The Magic, on the other hand, are moving in the wrong direction. With Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, and Jonathan Isaac all injured, last year’s No. 8 seed is free-falling. They’ve lost 14 of their last 17 games, with the only wins coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets, and Chicago Bulls.

So let’s not sugarcoat this one. The Warriors should win, and they should win comfortably, for that matter. Now they just need to make it happen.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.

Curry has been balling out of his mind lately. He’s shot 50% or better from the field and 40% or better from beyond the arc in each of the last seven games. Where the Warriors have struggled this year has been in putting a quality team around him. But against a poor opponent like Orlando, Curry’s abilities are enough to win the game single-handedly, if he goes off.

Magician to watch: Cole Anthony.

First off, is that what a Magic player is? A Magician? Saying, “Magic player to watch” felt so stuffy, and “Magic to watch” obviously didn’t make sense, so I’m going with “Magician” regardless.

Anthony is not Orlando’s most important player (more on who that is in a minute). But the rookie has had to slide into a big role since Fultz’s season-ending injury. The stats aren’t particularly good: he’s averaging 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, but shooting just 37.5% from the field and 32.5% from beyond the arc.

But he’s had some special games along the way, including in each of Orlando’s three wins during their slide.

Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Nikola Vučević.

James Wiseman will be re-evaluated before the game, so there’s still a small chance that he should play. But even if he does, the Warriors will be playing small ball, which will pit Green against an All-Star center.

After Tuesday’s win, Green said that he loves playing center, but also admitted that the timing worked out well, since the Dubs hadn’t played a traditional center since Kevon Looney’s injury. Vučević may not fully be a traditional center — he loves his jump shots — but he has a wide array of post moves, is very large, and can rebound the heck out of the ball.

It will be a fun matchup.

Keys to victory

  • Play clean, smart basketball, with good decisions
  • Don’t play with their food too much before eating it
  • Be competitive on the glass
  • Be smart on defense

All in favor of a win, say aye.