The visiting Orlando Magic and host Miami Heat arrive for their in-state matchup Friday night both winners in three of their last four contests.
For Orlando, homecourt victories over NBA-leading Boston on Monday and Indiana on Wednesday mark the Magic’s first consecutive victories since Dec. 21 and 23.
Still 10 games under .500, they head to Miami seeking a third straight win for the first time since they had a six-game winning streak last month.
All five Orlando starters scored in double-figures in the 126-120 win over the Pacers led by rookie standout Paolo Banchero’s 23 points. Gary Harris knocked down all six of his 3-point attempts en route to a season-high 22 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The double-double marked Carter’s second straight and sixth since the calendar turned to 2023. The Magic are 5-1 in those contests.
While every Magic starter notched at least 13 points Wednesday – with Markelle Fultz and Franz Wagner both hitting that mark – Orlando’s bench provided an additional 37 points.
“We did a great job trying sharing the basketball. We might have over-shared a few times,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. Thirty-four of Orlando’s 46 baskets against the Pacers were assisted, with Fultz (eight) and Wagner (seven) leading the passing parade.
Orlando aims to continue its efficient offensive play against Miami, one of the NBA’s best defensive teams. The Heat are holding opponents to 108.2 points per game (second in the league), offsetting their league-low 108.4 scoring average.
Miami averages 8.5 steals a game and has held teams to 36.9% shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
In each of their last four wins, the Heat have held the competition to 98 or fewer points, including last time out — a 98-95 grinder over Boston on Tuesday.
Miami was without Jimmy Butler against the Celtics. Butler has missed 15 of 49 games this season, but Tuesday’s late scratch because of a back issue was his first time out of the lineup since Dec. 31.
Bam Adebayo, whose 21.6 points per game match Butler to lead Miami, picked up the slack with 30 points against the Celtics.
Adebayo is averaging 10.2 rebounds a game and his 1.1 steals game continue to contribute to the Heat’s defensive dominance.
“Bam has been a killer all season for us. We go as far as he takes us,” Heat forward Haywood Highsmith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He’s one of the best centers in the NBA. He’s definitely an All-Star. … Not only offensively, but defensively. He’s a two-way guy.”
Tuesday marked Adebayo’s fourth 30-plus-point game since Dec. 31, and his eighth double-double since Jan. 2.
Tyler Herro, Miami’s third-leading scorer (20.5) has been in something of a cold spell. He finished with nine points against the Celtics and is 6-of-34 (17.6%) from beyond the arc since Jan. 16.
— Field Level Media