Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers (March 28, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

The Los Angeles Lakers got big contributions from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to win the title. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers got big contributions from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to win the title. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic start a five-game road trip against the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers as they debut their new players and start a new generation and path.

Orlando Magic (15-30) at Los Angeles Lakers (29-17)


10 p.m./FOX Sports Florida




No Tickets Available on StubHub

2021 Season Series:

Tonight in Los Angeles; April 26 in Orlando

PaceOff. Rtg.Def. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR
L.A. Lakers99.2110.7106.054.226.715.227.7

OMD Prediction

Forget those stats listed above for both teams. The Orlando Magic are a completely different team than the one that accumulated those stats as new players make their debuts in a Magic uniform. Steve Clifford said the goal for the team in the short-term is to find something the group is good at and emphasize that early on as the team learns to play together.

The stats for the Los Angeles Lakers are also bunk too. The Lakers are without Anthony Davis and LeBron James, gutting not just the team’s star power but also their offensive heft. The Los Angeles Lakers are 1-3 with a 14-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers since James’ injury. The Cavs managed just 89 points in that loss, so the Lakers can still get down defensively a bit. But the stats are still noisy with such a small sample size. Cleveland is not exactly an offensive juggernaut.

It is hard to predict what any team will do. Orlando certainly needs a good shooting game to have a chance. But everyone is still piecing everything together. And the Lakers have no clue what to expect just like the rest of us.

20. Prediction. 108. 38. 107

3 Keys To Watch

Identity Watch

The Orlando Magic are going to be figuring everything out on the fly. That is the nature of this season. The Magic left early Saturday for Los Angeles so they could get a walkthrough and at least go over a few things on a court or a ballroom before Sunday’s game. The team should be able to get a practice in Monday before Tuesday’s game against the LA Clippers. That will be valuable time.

But a lot of this figuring is going to come in games. Coach Steve Clifford is going to have to come up with a plan, try to execute that plan and adjust that plan in games without practice time to review things and really test them out. That is far outside of his comfort zone. But the first key is to see what advantages he can press and emphasize so they can find their way to play.

Life without LeBron

The Los Angeles Lakers have played four games without LeBron James, going 1-3. Anthony Davis is still a ways away from a return. So the Lakers are trying to hold on and pick up as many wins as they can to cushion a fall down the standings. The team without James has not looked as strong, obviously, in some crucial ways.

In four games, the Los Angeles Lakers still have a strong defense at 106.4 points allowed per 100 possessions (buoyed by an 86-point effort against the Cleveland Cavaliers). The defense has cratered. In the last four games, the Lakers have the third-worst offense in the league at 100.0 points per 100 possessions. This is a Lakers team that does not have a ton of offensive force without James and Davis out there.

Who creates?

The biggest question mark for the Orlando Magic is who creates and gets the critical paint touches to free up shooters on the perimeter. How do the Magic get the defense to shift and rotate to find some advantage? Who breaks down the defense one on one? The Magic are going to be searching for this guy who can create an advantage or mismatches in the way Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic were able to in a pick and roll or Markelle Fultz could off the dribble.

The team’s answers right now appear to be Michael Carter-Williams and Dwayne Bacon. As imperfect as they are, both are good at driving into the lane and creating some level of chaos. Neither are great at finishing there though. The question will be whether the Magic will unleash R.J. Hampton and whether he is ready to attack off the dribble with some playing time available to him or if the Magic can run some of the same sets they ran with Nikola Vucevic in the high post with Wendell Carter.

Next. 3 goals for the Orlando Magic for what comes next. dark

These are all questions the Magic do not have answers for until they play the games.