Orlando Magic at New York Knicks (March 18, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Nikola Vucevic did not have his best game against the New York Knicks, but there was plenty of slack to pick it up for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic did not have his best game against the New York Knicks, but there was plenty of slack to pick it up for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic hit the road to face the New York Knicks in one of their last opportunities in a few weeks to face a team with a losing record and end the team’s eight-game losing streak.

Orlando Magic (13-26) at New York Knicks (20-21)


7:30 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




$31-$292 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Knicks 91, Magic 84

Magic 107, Knicks 89

in New York City on Jan. 18; in Orlando on Feb. 17; Tonight in New York City

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
New York96.7108.7108.751.527.914.125.1

OMD Prediction

Both Steve Clifford and Tom Thibodeau are cut from the same cloth. In fact, Thibodeau helped introduce Clifford to the NBA. The two are close friends and share similar defensive philosophies. They also share a penchant for preparation and details. The last thing anyone should do is give them the time to prepare. Clifford has proven that with Game 1 victories in the last two postseasons. Orlando had three days off to prepare for this gauntlet to come.

The New York Knicks are playing really well despite back-to-back close losses to the Eastern Conference’s best teams in the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. But the injury bug has hit them hard too. The Knicks will be without Austin Rivers and Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley and Elfrid Payton are uncertain to play. The Magic know firsthand how difficult it is to play without a point guard. And the Magic have the prospects of Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon returning on top of a defense that is playing well. Someone just has to score.

Prediction. 98. 38. 95. 27

3 Keys To Watch

The Magic on Rest

The times the Orlando Magic have had a few days between games have been exceptionally rare this year. That is the nature of this schedule. Three days off with two days to practice in between? That is a luxury that everyone understands Clifford will not waste.

The Magic this year have been pretty good when they have had some time between games. The Magic have had just six games where they had two or more days of rest and are 4-2. They have scored 111.2 points per game in those games (which includes the outlier loss to the Boston Celtics after the Celtics had too many players in health and safety protocols). That meant the Celtics also had plenty of days off too.

Clifford said the Magic had two good days of practice and if they can get some guys healthy, the team should be ready to play really well and build off the defensive success of the last week.

All-Star Battle

A lot of the discussion for the final Eastern Conference All-Star spot came down to a debate between several post players. But most centered the discussion on Nikola Vucevic or Julius Randle — assuming Domantas Sabonis would make the cut (he would eventually as an injury replacement). The battle between Vucevic and Randle is a good one between two playmaking bigs who can step out to the perimeter and make good decisions to anchor the team.

How these two face-off is going to be central to this game. And, at least so far, Vucevic has fared really well. In the two games this season, Vucevic is averaging 20.0 points per game and 15.0 rebounds per game. The Knicks have not been able to handle him on the inside. Randle is averaging 23.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. The two big men have essentially canceled each other out. With Mitchell Robinson out, the Knicks will lean more on Nerlens Noel to defend Nikola Vucevic. And there might be more heads-up matchups.

Point Guard Depth

Getting the big men the ball might be the issue for both teams. The New York Knicks will be without Derrick Rose and Austin Rivers. And Immanuel Quickley is doubtful and Elfrid Payton is doubtful. The Orlando Magic know that feeling of playing without a true point guard. It can be extremely difficult to get organized.

Next. How Khem Birch can help Orlando Magic strike a deal. dark

The Knicks are an OK offensive team, but much of their strength is built on their defense. So Orlando will have to reduce turnovers to press this advantage at point guard. And yes, it is an advantage even with just Michael Carter-Williams and Chasson Randle to handle the point. This game could be a bit of an organized mess in the halfcourt. Do not expect a ton of points.