By Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
7:43 PM EST, January 15, 2014
The Orlando Magic entered their game Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls bracing for the absences of two injured starters, center Nik Vucevic and swingman Arron Afflalo.
Vucevic is recovering from the concussion he suffered on Jan. 6, which was his second concussion since March 19, 2013.
Afflalo hurt his right ankle last Friday against the Sacramento Kings.
It's obvious that the Magic are a better team when both Vucevic and Afflalo are playing.
But now there might be enough data to show just how important Vucevic is to the team.
Prior to Wednesday, the Magic had played 10 games without Vucevic this season, and Orlando had posted a 0-10 record in those games.
Orlando Sentinel research shows:
• The Magic made 44.8 percent of their shot attempts in the 28 games Vucevic has played this season, but the Magic's shooting accuracy dropped to 40.9 percent in the first 10 games Vucevic missed.
• Opponents shot 44.4 percent from the field in games Vucevic has played, but opponents' shooting accuracy improved to 47.1 percent in the first 10 games he missed.
• In the 28 games Vucevic has played, the Magic outscored their opponents in the paint 1,044-1,016. In the first 10 games he missed, opponents had outscored the Magic in the paint by an average of 12.4 points per game.
Some caveats should be noted.
It's possible that the Magic have played tougher opponents in the games Vucevic has missed. To be sure, the Magic were on the road in nine of the first 10 games Vucevic missed, so it's fair to expect that the opponents played a bit better because they were in their home arenas.
In addition, the Magic also were missing Afflalo in two of the games Vucevic missed.
Afflalo, no doubt, is crucial to Orlando's success, especially on offense.
But going into Wednesday, Afflalo had played in 35 of the team's 38 games. The three games he missed aren't a large enough sample size to draw any definitive conclusions. However, the Magic lost all three of those games.
Nicholson in the post
Second-year power forward Andrew Nicholson arguably is the Magic's best low-post scorer. Through Tuesday, he had made 94 of his 184 2-point shot attempts (51.1 percent).
But Nicholson has spent a significant amount of his time on the floor this season positioning himself for 3-pointers, with 66 of his 250 overall shot attempts coming from 3-point range.
Given that he was shooting just 31.8 percent on his 3-point attempts, is it possible that he's not shooting enough in the low post?
Coach Jacque Vaughn was posed that question Wednesday.
"I think throughout the course of the game, whether he's taking four or five shots throughout the course of the game, there have been some touches on the post," Vaughn answered. "We'll continue to remind him that his ability to post-up for us, whether it's me calling plays for him or him getting there himself, he's good there on the post and creating space for us."
Reserve guard Ronnie Price was available to play for the Magic against the Bulls. Price remained in Central Florida during the team's five-game road trip. Price had a sinus infection, and doctors didn't want him to fly.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.
Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentinel