National Basketball Association
Magic-Raptors Preview
National Basketball Association

Magic-Raptors Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 2:51 p.m. ET

The Toronto Raptors can continue to press for the top spot in the Eastern Conference while simultaneously letting some more air out of the Orlando Magic's chances to crack the top eight.

The likelihood of each scenario seems to gain steam each day.

The Raptors close a home-heavy stretch looking for their seventh straight win at Air Canada Centre over the reeling Magic on Sunday.

Toronto (47-21) has stayed right behind East-leading Cleveland by winning 12 of its last 15, with 11 of the victories coming at home. The Raptors are 16-2 in their last 18 at Toronto, but follow this contest with eight of their final 13 on the road.


They recorded their third straight win to close a stretch of four games in five days with Friday's 105-91 home victory over Boston.

Luis Scola scored all 17 of his points in the opening 11 minutes and Kyle Lowry had 15 of his 32 in the fourth quarter to extend Toronto's Atlantic Division lead to 8 1/2 games over the Celtics.

After opening their busy week with Monday's 109-107 home loss to Chicago, the Raptors earned road wins of 107-89 over Milwaukee on Tuesday and 101-94 in overtime over Indiana on Thursday before beating Boston.

''It's a good win for us,'' Lowry said. ''It was a good test for us, four tough games and four tough teams, but it was fun.''

Toronto has enjoyed a dominating run in this series, though this season's first two games were split in Orlando. The Magic beat the Raptors for the first time since March 2012 with a 92-87 win Nov. 6, but Toronto's 106-103 overtime victory Jan. 14 was its 12th in 13 meetings.

Orlando's Victor Oladipo has averaged 22.5 points and 50 percent shooting in the series, going 6 of 9 from 3-point range. DeMar DeRozan and Lowry, meanwhile, shot a combined 9 of 39 on Jan. 14.

The Magic (29-39) were still considered one of the league's top defensive teams at that point but have dropped off since. They've surrendered 109.6 points per game in their last 27, with four teams reaching at least 120.

Three of Orlando's last four opponents have shot 50 percent or better.

The Magic couldn't help the Raptors on Friday, falling 109-103 to the Cavaliers for their sixth loss in eight games.

Oladipo scored a career-high 45 points and went 6 of 7 from beyond the arc, though he had only six points in the final 12 minutes.

''I'm still upset about the fourth quarter," he said. "I've got to demand the ball much more. That's something I need to learn and get better at."

While Oladipo made 16 of 22 shots, the rest of the team hit 35 percent.

Orlando would need to pass four teams for the final playoff spot with 14 games left on the schedule. The Southeast's last-place team opens a difficult four-game trip that also goes through Boston, Detroit and Miami. The Magic have lost 15 of their last 19 on the road.

Elfrid Payton's status is cloudy for Orlando after missing the last five games with an elbow injury. Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas has missed three in a row with a bruised left hand and is uncertain.


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