Tom Thibodeau has transformed the New York Knicks, exciting fans of the much-beloved franchise. Their young stars are playing with tenacity and are proving they can compete alongside the Eastern Conference heavyweights.
Meanwhile, for the Orlando Magic, the 2020-21 NBA season is beginning to become a write-off considering their mounting injury woes. Nikola Vucevic is playing at an All-Star level, however, without significant consistent support, the side is falling down the Eastern standings.
Fixture: New York Knicks vs Orlando Magic - NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 7:00 PM ET. (Thursday 5:30 AM IST)
Venue: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
New York Knicks Preview
The New York Knicks have enjoyed a return to the playoff conversation and have an exciting side with bright prospects for the future. They have won 4 of their last 6 games and have benefitted from increased production and depth at the guard position.
Immanuel Quickley is rapidly rising up the rookie power rankings, after scoring 54 points across the past three games. His game will only grow under the tutelage of veteran leader Derrick Rose, who alongside stars Julius Randle and RJ Barrett can make the New York Knicks genuine contenders for seasons to come.
Key Player - Julius Randle
Julius Randle has comfortably been the New York Knicks' standout performer through their opening 29 games, in which he has played every night. Randle has surprised many by becoming one of the best all-round players in the league and is currently averaging 23.1 points, 11 rebounds and 5.6 assists - all career-high numbers.
Over their recent run of wins, Randle has averaged 30 points a game, including a 44-point piece against Atlanta and a monster 18 rebounds in Washington. Randle continues to prove his efficiency and worth to the New York Knicks, playing a career-high 36.7 minutes per game.
There is a strong likelihood Randle will gain his first selection for the All-Star game and is helping to generate a buzz around the franchise that could help bring in more star players in the future.
New York Knicks Predicted Lineup
G RJ Barrett, G Elfrid Payton, F Julius Randle, F Reggie Bullock, C Nerlens Noel
Orlando Magic Preview
The Orlando Magic are struggling, as they have won 2 of the last 10 matchups and have had to face an array of injuries throughout the season.
It took an impressive 42-point, 9-rebound showing from Vucevic to gain their last win on Friday. The Center continues to show All-Star quality and is the main reason the franchise have been able to stay in contests.
Unfortunately for the Orlando Magic, their season was doomed when Markelle Fultz tore his ACL, which proved a daunting precursor of what was to come as their injuries continued to pile up. Since their hot 4-0 start, the Magic have gone 6-18 and have fallen well outside the playoff picture.
Key Player - Nikola Vucevic
Without center Nikola Vucevic, the Orlando Magic would arguably be rooted to the bottom of the conference. Considering the Magic's injuries, Vucevic has had to put the team on his back and would be among the MVP contenders, were his side not performing so poorly.
Vucevic is averaging considerably more field-goal attempts for the Orlando Magic, while shooting at a career-high rate and is scoring a career-high 23.7 points per game. In the current NBA setting, Vucevic is an elite modern-day big man, shooting at 43% from the 3-point line while grabbing 11.4 rebounds.
Orlando Magic Predicted Lineup
G Terrence Ross, G Michael Carter-Williams, F Dwayne Bacon, F Gary Clark, C Nikola Vucevic
Knicks vs Magic Match Prediction
The New York Knicks arrive in Orlando as the joint-best form side in the East and sit 6 places above their opponents in the conference. The Knicks have proven they can be playoff contenders and are not afraid of any opponent, pulling off some outstanding wins already this season.
For the Orlando Magic, they have fewer weapons offensively, and therefore are likely to fall to the Knicks. Where they could gain an advantage is at center, especially since the New York Knicks are currently missing regular big man Mitchell Robinson due to injury.
Where to watch Knicks vs Magic?
The fixture will be available to fans of the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic locally on FoxSports Florida and on the MSG Network. You can also stream the game live or on playback with an NBA League Pass.