Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets (Feb. 25, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

James Harden made his debut for the Brooklyn Nets with a strong showing in the Orlando Magic's loss. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
James Harden made his debut for the Brooklyn Nets with a strong showing in the Orlando Magic's loss. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic look to bounce back from Tuesday’s disappointing loss by heading to Brooklyn and trying to keep pace with the star-powered Brooklyn Nets.

Orlando Magic (13-19) at Brooklyn Nets (21-12)


7:30 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




No Tickets Available on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Nets 122, Magic 115

in Brooklyn on Jan. 16; Tonight in Brooklyn; March 19 in Orlando

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic’s win streak came crashing down in a major heap during their loss to the Detroit Pistons. It was a night where they both did not play with great attention to detail on either end and they just did not have it that night. They got plenty of open shots and just did not make them. And frustration only grew from there as the team seemingly rushed headlong into the paint.

The biggest concern for the Orlando Magic then heading into their game against the Brooklyn Nets is about the discipline it will take to stick to the team’s gameplan even through a lot of frustrating moments. There is no slowing down this Nets’ offensive juggernaut. Even if Orlando plays great defense — which the team is — the team is going to need its offense to come along for the ride. Hopefully, Tuesday was the time the Magic got the bad game out of their way.

147. Prediction. 110. 38. 122

3 Keys To Watch

Lying fallow

The most nerve-wracking moment of the game for the Orlando Magic right now is any minutes that Nikola Vucevic is not playing. The team’s offense just starts to crater and stall when Vucevic is not on the floor. Even during this winning stretch in the last six games, the Magic struggle a ton with Vucevic off the floor.

The Magic have a +4.2 net rating (109.8/105.7 offensive/defensive split) with Vucevic on the floor the last six games. With him off the floor, the Magic have a -1.2 net rating with a 94.2/95.3 split. There are other players that have this significant of a swing — especially Michael Carter-Williams and Evan Fournier. In other words, the Magic’s bench has struggled a ton.

The moments when the second unit are in right now are deciding a lot of games. The Magic’s starters need to play well. But Orlando needs the second unit at least to tread water. Go back to the first meeting with the Brooklyn Nets back in January. The Nets turned a close game into a double-digit lead with Vucevic off the floor late in the third and early fourth quarters.

Keep Pace

The Brooklyn Nets currently boast the best offense in the NBA, scoring 118.0 points per 100 possessions. With an offense like that, it does not seem to matter that they have fifth-worst defense in the league. The Nets are really testing the limits of how bad a defense can be for a contending NBA team. Teams regularly score on the Nets with ease. It is just hard to keep up that level of scoring to stay with the Nets. Especially when they are at full strength.

A big thing Brooklyn does is play at a breakneck pace. They are eighth in the league in pace with 101.3 possessions per 48 minutes. Brooklyn’s ability to constantly put pressure on defenses with the two best isolation players in the league and then plenty of shooters around them makes it hard to keep up.

The Magic are playing at a faster pace lately too. For the season, they are playing at 99.5 possessions per 48 minutes (17th in the league). In the last six games, the Magic’s pace is up to 100.7 possessions per 48 minutes (10th in that time). This is a good thing. Orlando needs to play with more energy and pace in general. It certainly is part of this increase. But the team can get out of control and Orlando cannot outscore Brooklyn.

Dress to impress

The Brooklyn Nets’ biggest weakness is their inside play. They do not have much of an interior presence to speak of. They give up 51.6 points in the paint per game, 29th in the league. The Nets have a 72.1-percent defensive rebound rate, the sixth-worst in the league. Teams can beat the Nets if they gamble on the offensive glass and attack the paint effectively.

Next. Nikola Vucevic isn't flashy, but he's an All-Star. dark

Nikola Vucevic certainly can do all of that. He torched the Brooklyn Nets for 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five steals in the Orlando Magic’s narrow loss. That was perhaps the first game of the season where everyone began to understand Vucevic was having a different kind of season. The Magic will need a whole lot from Vucevic to keep pace in this game. But he gives the team a huge advantage.