Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks (Feb. 17, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Nikola Vucevic is building his All-Star credentials, but the Orlando Magic are sinking down the standings as the second quarter begins. Mandatory Credit: Kathy Willens/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Vucevic is building his All-Star credentials, but the Orlando Magic are sinking down the standings as the second quarter begins. Mandatory Credit: Kathy Willens/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are in their closing kick to the end of the first half of the season. With plenty of games at home, the chance to make the playoffs must begin with their game against the New York Knicks.

Orlando Magic (10-18) vs. New York Knicks (14-15)


7 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




$51-$463 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Knicks 91, Magic 84

in New York City on Jan. 18; Tonight in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
New York96.2108.2107.651.127.914.025.1

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic are hoping for some injury relief. They signed Chasson Randle after they got home to give them some depth and a chance to compete. Nobody wants to go out there with just eight players again. Orlando looked exhausted as the team’s road trip ended. There is at least a small hope that Al-Farouq Aminu or Evan Fournier could return. Being home might speed up their recovery.

The Magic made progress on their road trip. Even if it was small and the injuries hid them. They defended better, but their offense would go into long enough droughts for the game to get blown open — whether early or late. The Sacramento Kings played them with one hand tied behind their back.

The New York Knicks are playing really well. They play with intensity and energy at all times. And they have enough veterans to keep that level up throughout the course of the game.

38. Prediction. 106. 27. 102

3 Keys To Watch

All-Star Battle

NBA All-Star voting is over. The decisions for the rest of the roster will be up to the coaches now. They will have to make call among several frontcourt players and a lot of deserving players. Both Nikola Vucevic and Julius Randle deserve to be All-Stars this year. Both have had incredible seasons and both deserve the trip to Atlanta.

Vucevic is averaging 23.7 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists per game with a 55.1-percent effective field goal percentage. Randle is averaging 23.1 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game on a 53.0-percent effective field goal percentage. Both have had 40-point games and carried their teams in big moments. The biggest differentiator so far might be the Knicks’ record as they hang around .500 and fight to avoid the play-in tournament.

A head-to-head battle probably will not completely change any voters’ minds as the campaigning for those last spots begins. But it cannot hurt. And it should make for an entertaining game.

Rock Fight

When the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks played in January at Madison Square Garden, it was a noon tipoff that seemingly set basketball back several decades. Nobody enjoyed the slugfest of a game that saw the Magic especially struggle offensively in one of their first games without Markelle Fultz. If not for a Terrence Ross miracle fling, the game might have drifted easily toward a Knicks win. They still won thanks to the Magic’s fouling late in the game.

New York’s offense is still a bit of a struggle — 113.7 points per 100 possessions in the last 10 games (17th in the league). But the team plays such tight, energetic defense that it has not mattered. New York has a positive net rating. Orlando’s defense is playing better — 11th in the last four games. And the team is playing with more intensity and focus. But the Magic are still struggling offensively as they deal with their depleted roster.

New York can win ugly games. Orlando might need to make this one ugly again.

The simple things

Steve Clifford-coached teams, like Tom Thibodeau-coached teams, do a lot of simple things very well. The Orlando Magic have not always done these things effectively. They can point to turnovers especially as the biggest weakness in their foundation right now.

Orlando is 15th in the league in turnover rate at 13.6-percent. This is a team that is typically in the top-10 in the league in turnover rate and protects its possessions better than any team in the league. Clifford has pointed to the turnovers as a big reason the team has struggled offensively and struggled to put together complete games.

The Magic have also struggled with their fouling throughout the season. Although the team has committed the fewest fouls per game (17.1 per game), they give up 19.2 free throw attempts per game (the fourth-fewest in the league). Against the Knicks on Jan. 18, the Magic gave up 34 free throw attempts.

Chuma Okeke will be starting sooner than later. dark. Next

Orlando can win, but it has to do the simple things it has always done well — protect their possessions, rebound well and keep teams off the free-throw line. Slips in any area lead to trouble.