Nikola Vucevic, Jimmy Butler highlight Magic-Heat matchup

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The Orlando Magic, who are set to visit the Miami Heat on Thursday night, are led by center Nikola Vucevic, who is bursting with pride after having competed this past weekend in his second All-Star Game.

"It means you belong with the best players in the game, so it's special," Vucevic told The Orlando Sentinel. "Hopefully, it's not (my last All-Star Game).

"Once I retire, I will look back and tell my kids: 'Hey, for All-Stars, I played with Dirk Nowitzki. I played with Dwyane Wade. I played with LeBron James. I played with all those guys'."

In the meantime, Vucevic is committed to trying to help the Magic reach the playoffs for the third straight year. But the Magic, who haven't actually won a playoff round since 2010, are off to a poor start at 13-23.

The All-Star break came at a good time for the Magic, who will try to snap their five-game losing streak.

Orlando is 5-11 on the road, and the Magic are four games out of a playoff berth.

Miami, which made the NBA Finals last year, is 10-8 at home. After a slow start, the Heat have moved into playoff position by winning seven of their past eight games.

These two teams have not met since Opening Day on Dec. 23, when the host Magic defeated the Heat, 113-107.

The Heat, however, have been a much better team later in the season. In 12 seasons under coach Erik Spoelstra, Miami has won 62 percent of its games after the All-Star break.

On the current Heat team, there are no All-Stars this year ... but Jimmy Butler is Miami's franchise player. Butler has missed 14 games this season due to injuries, but he is now healthy, and he leads the Heat in scoring (20.5), assists (7.8) and steals (1.9).

"You can see we trust him," Heat guard Goran Dragic said. "We want him to have the ball in (clutch) moments.

"It's awesome to watch him. He can manipulate games by getting to the foul line."

Indeed, Butler leads the Heat with 8.3 free throws per game.

Orlando doesn't have anybody who gets to the line as frequently as Butler. Vucevic leads the Magic in scoring (24.6) and rebounds (11.6), but he gets to the foul line just 2.6 times per game.

Evan Fournier is second on the Magic in scoring (18.5) and leads them in free throws per game (5.0).

However, Fournier missed Orlando's most recent game due to a groin injury and is listed as day-to-day. He joins several Magic players hit by the injury bug, as Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are out for the season. In addition, Cole Anthony and Aaron Gordon are likely out for the contest.

Miami also has injury issues. Center Bam Adebayo, who is second on the Heat in scoring (19.2) and leads the team in rebounds (9.5) and blocks (1.0), missed Miami's most recent game due to tendinitis in his left knee.

The Heat also have two role players on the injured list: Meyers Leonard (shoulder) and Avery Bradley (calf).

But if the game comes down to the Butler-Vucevic matchup, here are some interesting numbers.

In 29 career games against Orlando, Butler is averaging 15.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. In four games against Orlando last season, Butler averaged 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Vucevic is averaging 17.8 points and 11.0 rebounds against Miami (30 games). Last season, he averaged 19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in four games against the Heat.

--Field Level Media