The Orlando Magic will go for their season-high fourth win in a row when they host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.
Orlando is coming off a 120-115 win on the road over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, which followed double-digit road wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets within the last week. The Magic sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings and are looking to improve upon that positioning in order to avoid the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
As Orlando (30-35) looks to climb from its current spot of eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, its front office is trying to determine what to do about fans in the stands. The Magic planned to keep the game open to ticket holders as of late Wednesday afternoon — after the NCAA and Golden State Warriors announced that they would play upcoming games in empty arenas.
“The health and safety of our fans, employees and players is our top priority,” the team said in a statement. “We are in contact with local health officials and the NBA as we closely monitor the situation. We encourage all to practice common CDC hygiene guidelines.”
On the court, the Magic are led by big man Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 19.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in 54 games. The 29-year-old Vucevic has posted a double-double in each of his past five games, giving him 36 double-doubles on the season.
Terrence Ross is averaging 14.8 points per game while coming off the bench for the Magic, and he will be a challenge for the Bulls’ second unit. Ross will look to stay hot after scoring 24 points on 8-for-19 shooting, including 5-for-11 shooting from 3-point range, in the win over Memphis.
Aaron Gordon will be another player for Chicago to watch. The athletic power forward is averaging 14.4 points and 7.6 boards.
Unlike the Magic, the Bulls (22-43) are looking at an early offseason rather than a projected playoff appearance. Chicago has lost 13 of its last 16 games but is coming off a 108-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Bulls rookie guard Coby White made his first career start and led the team with 20 points. The 20-year-old White, who was the No. 7 overall pick out of North Carolina in last year’s draft, is averaging 13.2 points on the season but has struggled with inconsistent shooting.
Zach LaVine, who has missed five straight games because of a quadriceps injury, is a question mark for Thursday’s contest. LaVine leads Chicago with 25.5 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.
Wendell Carter Jr. could match up against Vucevic or Gordon. The second-year big man is averaging 11.3 points and 9.4 rebounds, and this will mark his seventh game back from a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him for almost two months.
Orlando is 16-15 at home this season, and Chicago is 8-23 on the road.
The teams already have met once this season, with the Magic posting a 103-95 win on its home court Dec. 23. They are scheduled to meet for a third and final time April 13 in Chicago.
–Field Level Media