Orlando Magic at Miami Heat (March 11, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic has carried over his play from the bubble, putting up All-Star numbers to lead the Magic to a fast start. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic has carried over his play from the bubble, putting up All-Star numbers to lead the Magic to a fast start. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are back at it as the second half of the season begins in Miami against the Miami Heat.

Orlando Magic (13-23) at Miami Heat (18-18)


8 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




$21-$1,535 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Magic 113, Heat 107

in Orlando on Dec. 23; Tonight in Miami; March 14 in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

OMD Prediction

Steve Clifford is not thrilled there is so little time to prepare. That is the case for every team, of course. Every team had only one day of practice to get back into things before the gauntlet of the second half of the season begins. He said other coaches have told him they too are not practicing much. In any case, these first few games after the break may end up like early-season games — complete crapshoots.

The Orlando Magic were playing well before the break, minus that disastrous fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks. The team had found some groove offensively and were defending well at least in the half-court. It was not a complete picture by any means, but the team was finding some consistency. Of course, it was hard to make that last for 48 minutes. On the other hand, the Miami Heat are playing very well. And even being without Bam Adebayo, they should be a tough out.

110. Prediction. 104. 38. 107

3 Keys To Watch

Aaron Gordon and his impact

Steve Clifford said after practice Wednesday that Aaron Gordon did more with the team and participated at least in parts of the team’s practice. He has been upgraded to questionable, but he made it sound like his decision on whether to play will be dependent on how he feels Thursday morning after the practice. It sounded a lot more than questionable.

Regardless of any of that, Gordon’s return seems imminent and it will be a welcome return for the team. They have had to over-rely on their trio of Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier (the team has ruled Fournier out Thursday with a strained groin). Adding even another player who can consistently score even just 15 points would help. Not to mention Gordon has been one of the best catch-and-shoot 3-point shooters in the league this year. Getting Gordon back will help the team’s defense. He should also boost the offense by just giving the team another weapon.

Playing without Bam

The Miami Heat are dealing with their own (minor) injury issues to start the second half of the season. The team already ruled out Bam Adebayo with left knee tendinitis. It is not clear how long he will be out. But the Heat have relied heavily on Bam Adebayo to keep the team afloat while Jimmy Butler went through health and safety protocols. Adebayo is averaging 19.2 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game and 5.4 assists per game. That kind of versatile play should have put Bam Adebayo in the All-Star Game (maybe fore Domantas Sabonis? I don’t know, he was deserving too).

But without Adebayo? The Heat might have some trouble. The Heat are 1-2 in the games Adebayo has missed (he is remarkably resilient especially this season). The Heat have a 108.0 offensive rating with Adebayo on the floor, but that drops to 102.6 points per 100 possessions with Adebayo off the floor. They have plenty of other playmakers like Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn in addition to Jimmy Butler, who has been a triple-double machine, but Bam Adebayo has been unique this season. But they have lost a big piece of their attack.

Back to back

The Orlando Magic have some very weird back-to-backs coming in this early part of the season. They start off with one of the strangest ones ever put down on their schedule. They play at Miami on Thursday and then head to San Antonio on Friday. A Florida-to-Texas road trip is just strange (especially considering the San Antonio Spurs played Wednesday night and easily could head to Florida instead).

Next. Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs have most to offer Orlando Magic. dark

That begs a few questions for the Magic. First is whether the Magic might have a short leash on this game to prepare for that long road trip. Not that the Magic have the depth to do much different with their rotation. The second is whether someone like Aaron Gordon who is nursing an injury might be eligible for only one of these games. This might be the one to play with a long flight ahead later in the night. But this is a good start to the fresh weirdness of this season. The schedule-makers did the Magic zero favors.