Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (April 16, 2021): 3 Things To Watch, Odds and Prediction

Fred VanVleet went wild on the Orlando Magic as they again failed to stay organized and keep up with the Toronto Raptors. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Fred VanVleet went wild on the Orlando Magic as they again failed to stay organized and keep up with the Toronto Raptors. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic return to Florida to take on the Toronto Raptors, hoping to build on the win Wednesday and take down an undermanned Raptors team.

Orlando Magic (18-37) at Toronto Raptors(22-34)

Time/TV: 7:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
Line: Raptors by 2.5
Tickets: $23-$241 on StubHub
2021 Season Series: Raptors 115, Magic 102 in Tampa on Jan. 31; Raptors 123, Magic 108 in Orlando on Feb. 2; Tonight in Tampa

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OMD Prediction

The Orlando Magic have proven a few things since the trade deadline. If they play hard and with energy, they can give themselves a chance. It helps too if the other team is undermanned or struggling. Orlando has something the team can build on after the energetic effort Wednesday. That has to be the baseline for how they play.

Getting some schedule luck does not hurt either. The Toronto Raptors have ruled out OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry. Gary Trent is doubtful too. The Raptors should have Fred VanVleet back in the lineup and the Magic know how dangerous he can be. Toronto is not a team to look past. They are tough, have solid shooters and play with good energy. Even undermanned Toronto remains a dangerous team. The Magic will be without Michael Carter-Williams for a while too after that nasty sprained ankle.

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3 Keys To Watch

Energy and activity

The easy way to figure out if the Orlando Magic are playing well is to see their energy and activity level. When they play at a high level defensively especially, they play a whole lot better. That has to be the start of everything. Since the trade deadline, the Magic have a defensive rating of 115.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. But in the team’s three wins since the deadline, the team posted a 103.7 defensive rating.

Going a bit deeper, according to NBA.com’s hustle statistics, the Magic average 12.7 deflections per game since the trade deadline. In their wins, the Magic average 15.0 deflections per game. Deflections in the way the NBA track them is not usually correlated with winning or defensive activity. But in this case, this is a situation where the numbers meet the eye test. The Magic are better when they are getting their hands on the ball and being disruptive defensively.

Khem’s new haunts

The Orlando Magic’s reunion tour continues against the Toronto Raptors and Khem Birch. Birch has fit right in with his new team since the Magic agreed to buy him out of his contract. And Raptors fans have fallen in love with him too.

Birch is averaging 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 24 minutes per game for the Raptors through three games. The team has really taken advantage of his screening ability and he has even displayed the expanded offensive game the magic could never really get to. Birch has fit right in for the Raptors and he could be due for a big game going up against the Magic’s high-energy bigs.

Cole’s World

Michael Carter-Williams gutted through the end of Wednesday’s win after a nasty sprained ankle. The Orlando Magic have ruled him out for Friday’s game and are expecting to be without him for some time now. That is going to push Cole Anthony back into the starting lineup and force R.J. Hampton and possibly the recently re-signed Devin Cannady into the rotation.

Anthony has been the bigger focus. He has struggled some offensively since returning from the rib injury that kept him out for two months. Anthony is scoring 11.0 points per game (the same as his season average) but posting just a 40.4-percent field goal percentage and 13.3-percent from deep.

Wendell Carter wants to impact winning. dark. Next

Orlando needs Anthony to be more efficient as a scorer and to be better at organizing the team as the point guard. This has been a key part for his development and an area he still needs to work on. He will likely get thrown back into the fire again.