Final: MAGIC 122, BUCKS 110
The Orlando Magic stunned the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their opening round best-of-seven series on Tuesday afternoon. They take a 1-0 series lead for the second consecutive year.
Center of Attention
Orlando Magic center, Nikola Vucevic, dominated his way to a playoff career-high 35 points and added 14 rebounds.
“I came out with an aggressive mindset. Coach wanted me to be aggressive and take on that role and I want to do that.” Vucevic said postgame.
Last year, Vucevic faced a lot of criticism following the team’s elimination in five games by the Toronto Raptors. A series in which the Magic also “stole” Game One.
“Hopefully we learned from last year that one game is just one game. You have to put it behind yourself and get ready for Game Two.” Vucevic added.
The Bucks, the odds-on-favorite to win the NBA championship, appeared distracted by the Magic’s pesky defense all afternoon. The league’s #1 scoring team made just 14 of 42 three-point attempts. The Magic forced 16 turnovers, including five by reigning NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“Obviously, our main focus was trying to make it hard on Giannis, to protect the paint,” Vucevic said. “We did that as a team. Gary (Clark) did a great job fighting him and we were able to help.”
Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points on 12 of 25 shooting and 17 rebounds.
Next Man Up
The Magic, a +775 underdog at sports books prior to tip, were missing five rotation players in Game 1. Starting forward, Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and reserve guard Michael Carter-Williams (foot) are expected to return for Game 2 after missing Tuesday.
Forward Al-Farouq Aminu (knee), center Mo Bamba (illness) and forward Jonathan Isaac (knee) are out the remainder of the season.
Those injuries have provided ample opportunity for reserves like forward Gary Clark. Starting in place of Gordon, Clark went 4 -12 on 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points. Though the stat sheet may not show it, it was Clark’s active hands on defense that made it a tough night for Antetokounmpo.
Terrence Ross (18 pts.) and DJ Augustin (11 assists) led the way off the bench for the Magic.
Game 2 of the series is Thursday at 6P ET on ESPN from Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.