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Nets look to clinch playoff spot vs. Magic

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

One step closer. On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets looked to inch one step closer to the playoffs and a date with the Philadelphia 76ers in round one. They were able to get the job done as they beat the Detroit Pistons. The magic number is down to one.

The Orlando Magic were eliminated from the play-in chase, and they hope they strike gold in the Draft. They completed a two game set against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night and took the loss in their home finale.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Ben Simmons. Dorian Finney-Smith missed Wednesday’s game due to a right wrist contusion. He’s listed as probable. David Duke Jr. was converted from a two-way deal from a standard contract Friday morning.

No Jonathan Isaac, Gary Harris, Paolo Banchero, Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr, Moritz Wagner or Franz Wagner.

The game

Brooklyn took the first game in November while Orlando got the second one in March. This is the last meeting between the teams this season.

Three-point shooting will tell the tale tonight. Since the All-Star break, the Magic are shooting 34.5% from 3-point range, good for 25th in the NBA. With most of Orlando’s rotation in street clothes, the Nets will have an even bigger advantage from deep. Against the Pistons, Brooklyn shot 17-of-43 — 39.5% — from 3-point range. Safe to say, if they do that again, they’ll have this one in the bag.

For the Nets, rebounding has been essential to their improved play recently. Over their last ten games, the Nets are 19th in rebounding rate. That’s not exactly great, but when you consider just how dreadful the Nets have been on the boards this season, that’s a major improvement. If they want to accomplish anything in the postseason, they have to build on that and get even better.

On the season, Orlando is allowing teams to shoot 70.8% inside the restricted area, second highest in the NBA. With this being night two of a back-to-back and the Magic missing a lot of talent, the Nets should look to drive to the basket at will. Spencer Dinwddie has been one of the best distributors since rejoining the Nets and had a career high 16 assists on Wednesday. The drive-and-kick game has done wonders for the Nets and if Orlando sells out to stop the threes, Dinwiddie can take advantage at the basket.

Player to watch: Jalen Suggs

As the Magic build their roster of the future, Suggs will play a big part of that. Although he’s only shooting 32.6 percent from three point range this season, that’s a big jump from the 21.4 percent he shot last year. If he’s able to continue building on that, he will become a much bigger threat on the court.

His defense has been an early calling card for him. Prior to the start of the season, Jackson Frank of UPROXX wrote about his defensive game and said:

“Suggs’ functional strength is arguably his best athletic trait. The fluidity with which he decelerates and preserves his balance on those closeouts underlines his core strength. It’s also evident in his on-ball chops. He applies his torso like a buffer to counter ball-handlers without falling for foul-baiting chicanery. Many young players will instinctively extend their hands as a reaction to movement and accrue unnecessary fouls. Suggs’ first thought is to absorb contact with his midsection, which protects him from sacrificing space and can even knock opponents off-kilter.”

With another solid draft pick and improved health along the roster, maybe the Magic can get into the play-in standings and beyond in 2023-2024.

Last time Mikal Bridges saw the Magic, he lit them up to the tune of 44 points on .591/.667/1.000 shooting. Bridges has been in a bit of a mini-shooting slump as he hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the field in the past three games and has been worse beyond the arc. He’s maintained his aggressiveness even as his shot isn’t there, so defenses still have to respect his scoring prowess. For the Nets, if they’re able to take care of business tonight, they can greatly reduce his minutes on Sunday and get him a little bit of a breather before the party gets started in the postseason. He’ll have a lot of work to do, but he’s ready for it.

Over the next two games, he has a chance to join some of the game’s elite...

From the Vault

On Wednesday, Pharrell Williams turned 50 years old. Skateboard P has lived a hell of a life, so let’s throw it back to two of my favorite Neptunes tracks.

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