Orlando Magic vs. Portland Trail Blazers (March 26, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Terrence Ross was finally able to find a rhythm, but his shots and the Orlando Magic's shots would not fall to get the team back into the game. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Terrence Ross was finally able to find a rhythm, but his shots and the Orlando Magic's shots would not fall to get the team back into the game. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic begin their new era against the Portland Trail Blazers to close a three-game homestand at the Amway Center before heading out West.

Orlando Magic (15-29) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (26-18)


8 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




$32-$9,300 on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Trail Blazers 106, Magic 97

in Portland on Feb. 9; Tonight in Orlando

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

OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic that defeated the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday is a completely different team than the Orlando Magic that will take the court Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Magic hit the reset button, nuking their roster and carving a new path forward. That does not leave a lot left on the team. The immediate question for the Magic is who is playing and will they know the plays anyway?

This game very well could resemble other short-handed games in Magic history. Orlando could come out playing hot and with a lot of energy and steal a win (especially against a Portland team that struggles defensively) or they could run out of gas and get blown out of the water because they do not have enough talent or practice time. Everything is a bit of a mystery.

Prediction. 115. 34. 105. 38

3 Keys To Watch

Who are you?

At the time of writing this on Friday morning, all the Orlando Magic’s trades are official. R.J. Hampton tweeted a photo from inside the Amway Center, shouting out his shooting coach Mike Miller, Thursday night. It is safe to assume he and Gary Harris are in Orlando. Whether they have cleared their physicals (Harris has been out since mid-February with a thigh bruise) in time to play will be a question mark. At the morning shootaround, Clifford was not anticipating any of them would be available and prepared as if he would have eight players available with Terrence Ross still out.

But this roster is undoubtedly different. Four of the five starters from Wednesday’s win are no longer with the team. The Magic, before adding the players who were acquired in the trade, only have eight players available. Their projected starting lineup for Friday may well be Michael Carter-Williams, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis, Chuma Okeke and Khem Birch (with Mohamed Bamba, Chasson Randle and Karim Mane off the bench). Without new players arriving, Bamba would have to at least suit up even though he has missed the last two games with a toe injury. Bamba was not listed on Thursday night’s injury report.

Orlando certainly has to hope that at least some of their new players are available to help. How much they will be able to install and get organized will be the bigger question.

C.J. McCollum’s return

Damian Lillard torches the Orlando Magic. For some reason, he has a special place of hate in his heart for seeing Orlando blue and he just goes after them. Or maybe it is the Magic’s drop coverages and inconsistent play at point guard for much of the last decade. One of those two. Playing the Portland Trail Blazers starts with Lillard. But now that he has his backcourt mate back, the questions get more complicated.

McCollum has been back for six games after a broken leg derailed what was looking like a career season. It sure does not seem like he has missed a beat. He is averaging 19.5 points per game and shooting 38.6-percent on his 3-pointers (shooting nearly all threes for the moment) in 29.0 minutes per game. That includes Thursday’s 35-point, six-3-pointer performance against the Miami Heat. He is still clearly getting his rhythm, but McCollum remains as potent as ever.

After the career game

Chuma Okeke scored a career-high 17 points, making all six of his shots including four 3-pointers. Okeke showed a ton of poise and confidence hitting big shots after players set him up and found him open for three. Okeke had been going through a bit of a slump, making only four of his previous 18 3-pointers.

Next. Grading Orlando Magic's trade deadline. dark

Okeke is still trying to fit in and find his place in the league. It is still clear he is getting comfortable back on the floor and figuring out his spots to be more aggressive. That would explain some of his inconsistency this year. But this could be a game where Okeke has to do more. The Magic are clearly pushing some of their young players up now with all the injuries and trades. Okeke is going to get his chance to spread his wings a bit more.