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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic: World Champs vs. Crew Of Stand-Ins

The Magic are missing an awful lot of NBA players...

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Happy holidays, sports fans, and let’s keep the good times a-rollin! The Milwaukee Bucks, fresh off a thrilling comeback win on Christmas Day, travel southwards to sunny Florida and visit the Orlando Magic, who are stuck at the bottom of the standings (again) and are missing a huge portion of their standard roster.

Where We’re At

All of a sudden, the Bucks are fully reinforced, with Brook Lopez as the only player remaining on the injury report as of Monday evening. While Lopez’s back surgery will remain hanging over Bucks fans’ heads like a dark cloud until he returns, Milwaukee faithful were delighted to welcome back Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, and especially Donte DiVincenzo on Saturday.

Donte had an uneven season debut, but for someone who had been stuck in a walking boot during the postseason parade last year, he seems like he is ready to contribute during whatever minutes he can earn.

Speaking of absences, here’s where the Magic are as of this morning, per

(deep breath) According to this, unavailable tonight will be Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Michael Carter-Williams, Markelle Fultz, RJ Hampton, Jonathan Isaac, E’Twaun Moore, Terrence Ross, Jalen Suggs, and (possibly) Mo Wagner.

Put aside the fact that the Magic are objectively terrible, Orlando is simply missing an entire rotation’s worth of NBA-level players, and is replacing many of them with lesser talents like Admiral Schofield and Hassani Gravett, new starters who just signed a second 10-day deal. They still will be able to deploy Wendell Carter Jr. and old friend Robin Lopez, as well as some of their young prospects like Franz Wagner...but in an NBA season that already comes with considerable ups and downs, the Magic are stuck in a deep valley right now because of health and availability. The Bucks may opt to rest certain players tonight, both to preserve them for later in the year and perhaps level the playing field a bit.

Player To Watch

Make no mistake, today’s entry is Donte DiVincenzo, and for good reason. The Big Ragu has a tough road ahead of him; in his fourth season, Donte finds himself firmly behind Grayson Allen, George Hill, and Pat Connaughton (and probably Wes Matthews too) for backcourt minutes. This is a problem I’m sure the Bucks coaching staff is delighted to have compared to the absences they’ve dealt with recently, but Donte himself is likely less delighted; he’s already seen the team acquire and extend a potential replacement (Allen), while Connaughton has continued his excellent season and Hill/Matthews continue demonstrating that they hold a firm grasp on Coach Bud’s trust. Is DiVincenzo going to be a contributor when the going gets tough? Will he be able to break into the playoff rotation? His work towards that goal starts now, as these next 50ish games will determine the next direction his NBA career takes.


Game 36: Against Orlando, the Bucks will...

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